Topic: News And Events

How to support high-risk loved ones during the outbreak

 

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is committed to helping keep all members of the communities we serve safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the majority of our patients and wellness class participants are of the aging population, we take seriously our commitment to those who are most vulnerable.

We encourage everyone to engage in social distancing as recommended by the CDC. That means staying home unless absolutely necessary and avoiding close contact with anyone outside of your immediate family.

We know this is a time of uncertainty and stress for everyone, and can be particularly frightening for older people and their caregivers and other loved ones.

Here are a few suggestions for helping older relatives and friends through this time of necessary social distancing.

Set a daily Facetime date.

Social interaction is important. It helps us feel connected to those around us, which can lower stress and anxiety. Choose a time each day to speak on the phone with your elderly loved one. An even better option is to use your iPhone to Facetime or your desktop computer to Skype with the person so face-to-face discussions can be had.

Check on your elderly neighbors.

It’s important to make sure the people in our community are being taken care of during this tumultuous time. If you have an aging person in your neighborhood, stop by briefly to see if there is anything they need. Make sure to back up from the door after ringing the doorbell or knocking to allow a safe, 6-foot distance between you and them.

Leave a care package at their door.

Many older people are currently afraid to enter grocery stores or pharmacies to purchase essentials and food for fear of coming into contact with the virus. If you have items at home to spare or are young and healthy and able to pick up a few extra things during your own, necessary trip to the store, consider purchasing groceries for your loved one or neighbor or even just a few items to make them smile. Drop them off at their door with a note so no contact is needed.

Send them links to verified information.

Information – and therefore misinformation – is everywhere right now. Social media is a particular hotbed for articles concerning the pandemic, much of which contains facts that are not verified. Turn to sources like the CDC and share verified information from credible sources with the people you love so they can stay informed but also avoid panic.

Reach out for help.

If you are a caregiver struggling with the challenges of helping a newly homebound elderly loved one, call the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Helpline at 866.474.5230 to connect with our Caregiver Support Network for advice. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough or shortness of breath, contact your primary care physician immediately or call the Yale New Haven Health COVID-19 call center at 833-ASK-YNHH (833-275-9644.)

Agency receives Patient and Family Satisfaction Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice recently received Fazzi’s 2019 Patient and Family Satisfaction Award of Distinction.

The awards are determined in the home healthcare and hospice fields by the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) – a set of surveys that asks patients to report on their experiences.

VNACHCH received an overall rating of hospice care of 96 percent, higher than the national average of 85 percent and the state average of 88 percent. The agency saw high responses in all survey categories, including communication, timeliness of care and information continuity. Of those surveyed, 96 percent responded that family members were always treated with dignity and respect, and 93 percent said they were never confused by information provided by the hospice team.

With respect to symptom management, 85 percent of respondents said their loved one got as much help with pain as needed and zero clients responded that they did not feel the received adequate help with pain management. In terms of emotional support, 93 percent of families said the emotional support during the hospice experience was what they needed, and 89 percent said the same of their emotional support after their loved one died.

The HHCAHPS and Hospice CAHPS Top 25 award is presented annually to organizations that subscribe to Fazzi’s Patient and Family Satisfaction Services and have demonstrated superior performance in overall satisfaction results, according to information from Fazzi, which is a national consulting, education, revenue cycle and best practice research firm that specializes in the home health and hospice industry.

VHA Community Healthcare & Hospice was recognized among the top 25 percent nationally of best practice agencies in Fazzi’s database, based on a comparative analysis of overall satisfaction.

“They are proven leaders that have excelled in one of the most important measures of an agency’s quality program – patient and family satisfaction,” the Fazzi announcement of top agencies reads. “We are incredibly proud of these agencies’ significant accomplishments and pleased to be their partner in one of the most important quality initiatives.”

VNACHCH named Top 500 agency

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice has been named a Top 500 Agency nationally in the 2019 HomeCare Elite®, a recognition of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. For 14 years, HomeCare Elite, a market-leading review, has annually identified the top 25 percent of Medicare-certified agencies and highlighted the top 100 and top 500 agencies overall.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, which is based in Guilford with an office in Hamden, was named a top agency for the sixth time and a top 500 agency for the first time with this most recent recognition.

The ranking is developed by ABILITY® Network, a leading information technology company helping providers and payers simplify the administrative and clinical complexities of healthcare; and sponsored by DecisionHealth, publisher of Home Health Line and the Complete Home Health ICD-10-CM Diagnosis Coding Manual.

The rating is based on performance measures, including quality of care, quality improvement, patient experience, best practices implementation and financial management – all data taken from publicly available information.

Janine Fay, president and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, credits the staff and a commitment to high-quality care and the betterment of health and wellness in the community with the agency’s ability to achieve recognition as one of the HomeCare Elite.

“For more than a century, our agency has been dedicated to providing healthcare at home. Whether we are caring directly for our patients, supporting families through our Caregiver Support Network, or reaching out to the community through our various health and wellness programs, we are devoted to our mission to be beside individuals at every turn on their healthcare journey,” Fay said.

In order to be considered, HomeCare Elite agencies must be Medicare-certified and have data for at least three outcomes in Home Health Compare.

Annual Report 2019

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are the face of home healthcare.

In an effort to share the stories of who we are, what we do, and why we remain committed to our mission, VNACHCH shares testimonials from staff members, caregivers, volunteers and patients in our latest annual report – complete with statistics about the care we provide and number of individuals we help on a yearly basis.

Caregivers Denise Brouillard and Patty McGuire share thoughts on the hospice care their loved ones received and the way their lives were impacted through this service. Our staff – ranging from members of our intake staff and community health staff to our field workers in nursing and therapy – share their perspective on their daily operations and the unique touch they bring to time with patients.

Within this report, as always, we thank our many donors who support our nonprofit efforts to help individuals facing a healthcare crisis remain at home, and to improve the health and wellness of the community at large.

We also celebrate the work of our affiliates, including Strong House Adult Day Center, which celebrated 25 years in 2019.

Our focus in the year ahead is to not only continue to provide compassion and care of the highest quality to our home healthcare patients, but also to grow our wellness offerings in the community and to increase our ability to grant the wishes of hospice patients.

“When you have healthcare challenges, we can help you face them,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice CEO Janine Fay. “We are members of your community who you can trust to help you stay the course when life takes an unexpected turn. We are devoted to our work and always grateful for the support we receive.”

To view the annual report, click here: VNA_AR19

To learn more about ways to give to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, click here. 

#GivingTuesday event Dec. 3

Click here to register for our event.  Click here to make a donation!

Help us warm up the giving season

What if the whole world came together one day a year to make a difference? What would you want to make possible?

The staff, board members and volunteers of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice want to help every person in the communities we serve to stay out of the hospital and at home, where they want to be, while facing a healthcare crisis. Whether someone is recovering from illness or surgery, living with a chronic condition, or facing the end of their life, we want to be beside them each step of the way. We want to be beside their loved ones and caregivers to offer support and resources. We want to provide wellness opportunities, education and advice to members of the community through clinics and classes.

At VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice, we are the face of home healthcare and this #GivingTuesday we are asking for your help.

Now entering its eighth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving and local nonprofit VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is excited to be part of the movement.

Celebrated nationwide on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday has become known as the day that launches the giving season.

Tickets are now available for VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s #GivingTuesday event, set for Dec. 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, located at 5 Indian Neck Ave.

Each $20 ticket to the event includes food catered by La Cuisine, a beer ticket, entertainment, a raffle and silent auction and the opportunity to network with fellow community members. The first 150 registered guests will receive a commemorative seasonal gift.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a nonprofit devoted to being beside home healthcare patients, their families and the community at every turn. Each year, the agency helps thousands of people remain at home through all stages of their healthcare journey, from beginning to end.

“All donations raised at the #GivingTuesday event will allow us to take this journey with the people we serve throughout New Haven and Middlesex Counties, and help them live life to the fullest,” said Janine Fay, President & CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. “Help us warm up the giving season by giving to our effort to keep as many people as possible home for the holidays.”

Shore Publishing and Zip06 is proud to be the official Media Sponsor for this event. Other sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit bit.ly/VNAGivingSeason to register for the event, bit.ly/VNAGiveTues if you can’t attend but would like to give, or contact Abigail Storiale at 203.458.4277 or astoriale@vna-commh.org for sponsorship opportunities.

 

A huge thank you to the sponsors that have come on board!

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Food generously donated by:

 

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Shore Publishing

Walking Tall

National Safety Month tips for staying confident on your feet

Anyone can have a slip.

Literally, staying on your feet is not always an easy thing, which is why during the month of June – recognized as National Safety Month – the National Safety Council is promoting education on the prevention of slips, trips and falls.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, falls are the leading cause of accidental injury for people age 55 and older, despite the fact that they are a preventable health problem. Individuals who have had changes in balance or a decline in physical mobility, those with a chronic illness or visual impairments, hearing deficits or foot problems, and those taking more than four prescription medications are at increased risk.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers Steady Steps, an award-winning fall risk reduction program, to help reduce the incidence and negative impacts of falls. Of our participants, 85 percent lower their risk of falls, improve balance and learn how to prevent falls from occurring.

The program, which is funded by a grant from and based on research by the experts from the Connecticut Collaboration for Fall Prevention and the Yale School of Medicine through the Department of Aging, is led by a team of nurses, physical therapists and certified instructors.

It includes screenings in the home or community setting, assessment of risks for falls and development of a personalized plan, assessment of home safety hazards, a balance assessment and blood pressure evaluation along with a medication review, and the teaching of simple balance exercises.

When it comes to avoiding falls, there are some simple steps everyone can take.

Dress for success

Cute shoes may be calling, but one of the most important things to do to prevent a fall is to wear the right footwear for your environment. Make sure to consider the conditions of where you’re headed and how much walking you’ll be doing when selecting shoes. Slip-resistant shoes can be helpful, but at a minimum make sure your shoes are broken in to reduce the slippery nature of the soles. You can do this by scuffing the soles on concrete before wearing them. Even around the house, make sure the soles of slippers are rough and don’t walk around on wood or tile floors in socks.

Hit the lights

Make sure when you are working or navigating a new environment that the lighting is appropriate, and take care when getting out of bed at night for a trip to the bathroom or kitchen. Adequate lighting helps you to see objects in your path and to avoid missteps that can lead to slips and falls.

Know your surroundings and announce yourself

We’ve all tried at some point to be a master of maneuvering – to sidestep through that tight space carrying something in our hands – but the best way to be safe is to be sure you have plenty of visibility and a path to move through while walking. It can also be helpful to announce yourself when in a shared or public space. Open doors slowly and tell others when you’re moving around them but are outside their line of sight, for example walking behind them.

Focus on fitness

Staying flexible and agile can help you to avoid falls, or minimize the impact if a fall takes place. As part of its Steady Steps program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice offers programs tailored to participant’s fitness and ability level including sitercize, Exercise for Better Balance and Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®, all of which can help reduce the risk for falls.

For more information on dates and times of Steady Steps programming, visit vnacommunityhealthcare.org/calendar.

Local nurse receives Nightingale Award

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Nurse Patty Tsou was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

 

Perhaps Patty Tsou was just destined to be a nurse.

Her mother was a registered nurse, as are her siblings. Despite the strong family ties, Tsou resisted the calling at first.

“I went to school to be a teacher, but I called my mom two years in and said I wanted to switch to nursing. She cried and said, ‘You were the one I always knew would be a nurse,’” Tsou recalled.

Now, more than three decades later, the VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice RN continues what became a true love affair with her profession. As a result, she was honored with The Nightingale Award for Excellence in Nursing at Anthony’s Ocean View in New Haven Thursday, May 2.

For the ceremony, she wore her Ona M. Wilcox College of Nursing pin alongside her mother’s St. Raphael School of Nursing Pin, just as she does every year on National Nurses Day.

“Every day I get to teach, just not kids,” Tsou said with a laugh, referencing her once potential field and the many skills she later found home health nursing requires. Not only do nurses provide clinical care, they also work to educate patients and their caregivers on self-care to manage chronic conditions and to otherwise help them recover from surgeries and illness.

“I see people in their environment. I’ve been to squalor and I’ve been to mansions, but at the end of the day [our patients] are all just people who need help,” she said.

During her career, Tsou has always been willing to go the extra mile. When she was assigned to Spanish-speaking patients, she learned the language on the job by carrying with her a pocket Spanish dictionary and eventually becoming fluent in what she termed “medical Spanish.”

“People appreciate the effort,” she said. “As a nurse, they’re always happy to see you, but even on my worst days, I still know they’ve made a difference.”

Tsou has been an employee of VNACHCH for 10 years.

According to VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Director of Nursing Karen Naccarato, Tsou has been described by her patients as a wonderful representation of VNACHCH who is “helpful, accommodating and a real comfort.”

Naccarato said Tsou goes above and beyond for her work, whether it’s serving as a preceptor to new employees, participating in new projects or allowing students to shadow her for the day.

“She truly exemplifies the qualities of excellence for the Florence Nightingale Award,” Naccarato said. “Patty brings forth much home care experience, professionalism, compassion and kindness when caring for her patients.”

The Nightingale Awards program was developed in 2001 to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. The program honors nurses from all health care settings and all Registered Nurses and LPNs involved in clinical practice, leadership or education may be considered.

Nurses can only be nominated once in their lifetime for the award. Nominations are made by the health care organization with which the nurse is affiliated. Award winners are selected based on criteria that examines what set the sets the nurse apart from others, how they impacted patient care and the profession, how they’ve shown commitment to the community and whether or not they’ve achieved a life-long legacy in a particular arena.

It’s Not All In Your Head

Dispelling myths about mental wellness during National Mental Health Month

Many understand the importance of mental wellness and the concept of self-care to prevent mental or emotional struggles, but far fewer may realized the far-reaching impacts mental health problems have in the life of every individual. Although we may think of mental health as something that does not affect us if we do not suffer personally or currently, the issue of mental health is a prevalent one today.

One in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue – some of the most common including anxiety and depression – but perhaps surprisingly to some, one in 25 Americans has a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. According to mentalhealth.gov, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States with more than 41,000 lives lost annually.

This May, recognized as National Mental Health Month, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice wants to dispel some myths of mental illness and treatment.

Myth: Recovery is not possible

The idea of recovery seems insurmountable to many when it comes to mental illness, but when looked at as the journey of yourself or a loved one reaching a point where a normal life – including the ability to work and be an active member of the community – is the goal, then recovery is indeed possible.

Through its Behavioral Home Health program, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice’s registered nurses collaborate with patients, family member’s and a client’s entire treatment team to help each individual discern small, achievable goals to have success reaching their best potential quality of life.

VNACHCH staff is available for visits seven days a week, plus 24-hour phone coverage to help with things like medication administration, facilitating copying skills, offering coaching on preventing physical impacts of treatment and addressing side effects should they arise.

Individuals on medication for mental illness are prone to conditions such as diabetes due to rising blood sugar or cardiac complications, and the VNACHCH staff is trained in assessing and managing these side effects in coordination with a patient’s other health providers.

Myth: People can “get over” mental illness on their own

Mental illness is not a sign of a weak mind. Some individuals have a mental illness as a result of genetics or brain chemistry, while others have an illness triggered by physical conditions or injuries that impact the body. Traumatic life experiences also serve to bring on mental illness.

To reach a point of mental wellness, people require a variety of treatment, including medication and therapy as well as the support of loved ones.

The most helpful family caregivers are those who commit to serving as advocates to connect a loved one with needed services and those who understand their family member is not defined by their mental illness. Helping to remove the stigma of mental illness is a critical part of the process.

Myth: It’s not safe to be around someone with mental illness

Most people with a mental illness are not violent, though media coverage of isolated incidents can make it appear mentally ill people are always unpredictable and irrational. Many people with mental health problems are able to go about every-day lives with little to no outward indicators of their illness.

To learn more about our Behavioral Home Health program visit https://vnacommunityhealthcare.org/our-care-programs/behavioral-home-health/.

Take the stress out of preparing to see your healthcare provider

Preparing for a medical visit can be a stressful experience.

Time frames for appointments are limited, and many often leave the doctor’s office and quickly think of questions they forgot to ask or realize they have follow-up concerns regarding the treatment or medications prescribed during their time in the exam room.

March 30 is National Doctor’s Day. Show your provider your appreciation by becoming an active partner in your medical care and learning how to make time with your physician as production possible.

In addition to offering screenings of things such as blood pressure, pulse and weight, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice nurses are available at regular Ask the Nurse clinics throughout the community to help patients set healthy lifestyle goals and prepare for upcoming physician’s visits.

“Preparing for a visit to the doctor can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be,” said VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice Health Promotions Supervisor Kathleen Eagle. “Our nurses are available to help you navigate whatever questions and concerns you might be having about your health and make an action plan so you feel confident going into your appointment.”

Basic advice

When getting ready to visit the doctor, it’s important to write down all your symptoms and a sequence of events that occurred leading to your health concerns. Be concise with your information. Also make sure to bring your current insurance card and co-pay to the visit, as well as an up-to-date medication list to share with your provider. If you want to ask something specific, ask in a pleasantly assertive way. Don’t wait until the doctor is leaving the room to discuss the real reason you came.

Many patients don’t think to take notes during a visit, but it can be quite helpful, particularly if new medications or courses of treatment are discussed. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor politely if you feel rushed in conversation. It’s important to recognize the busy schedule physicians must keep while also advocating for the care that you need.

Know what to ask

Much of the responsibility for one’s health lies with the individual. Medical providers can make recommendations, offer treatment options and order tests, but it is critical patients take an active role in their own health. Part of this means being prepared to ask the right questions when you see your doctor.

Ask why the doctor’s recommendations are important, what symptoms you should watch for to report to your provider’s office, and be sure you understand the instructions you’ve been given to follow until you next see your physician.

Know your family history

Family medical histories are important, particularly when it comes to knowing one’s risk for a variety of conditions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, family history might be one of the strongest influences on a person’s risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. The more you know about your risk factors, the more help you can be to your physician as they work to recommend the best course of your care.

Information in your family history might suggest to your doctor that you require certain screening tests or more frequents routine screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Family history of things such as Alzheimer’s and dementia also helps you to know what signs and symptoms to be on the look out for so you can discuss your changing health conditions with your doctor as soon as possible.

Bring an appointment companion

While it’s important that everyone see their doctor annually, many individuals – in particular senior citizens – may find their visits to be much more frequent.

This schedule can be helpful, but also makes it easier for information to blur from one visit to the next, or for patients to take for granted they’ll be seeing their doctor again soon and lose focus, leading to a misunderstanding of instructions or missed details.

Spouses, children or even friends can be helpful when brought along on a visit. An extra set of ears, someone to take notes for you and someone to help you remember the details of your medical history can be invaluable. In addition, bringing a companion or caregiver along often means you have an advocate with you to help clarify questions or ask questions you may be unsure of asking yourself.

Janine Fay named Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home chairman of the board

Janine Fay, a Clinton resident and the President and CEO of VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice – headquartered in Guilford – recently took up the post of chairman of the board of the Connecticut Association for Healthcare at Home (CAHCH).

Her two-year term was effective Jan. 1 and she hit the ground running, leading a full-day CAHCH board retreat earlier this month to chart a course to lead the industry through significant challenges and consolidation.

Fay has decades of experience in the home healthcare industry, including 20 years with VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice. She has led the organization as CEO since 2011.

Fay has been an active member of the CAHCH board and its committees over the years, most recently serving as Government Relations Committee Chair.

“I’m looking forward to continuing my work with CAHCH, an association whose mission I am passionate about, and taking on this new role leading its board. This is a challenging time for the home health and hospice industry as reimbursement rates continue to decline yet we see significant increases in the needs of patient’s being discharged from medical settings,” Fay said. “CAHCH does excellent work helping to bring home health and hospice providers together for advocacy and education. Its efforts are patient-centered and aimed at ensuring home health and hospice care that is cost effective and of the highest quality is available to all in need.”

As CAHCH board chairman, Fay succeeds Susan Adams, Vice President of Alliance Integration at Masonicare, who is now the immediate past chair and chairman of the CAHCH Government Relations committee.

For a full list of executive committee and board members, visit www.cthealthcareathome.org/page/Board.

VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice is a century-old nonprofit agency with expertly trained staff who help individuals recover and regain independence quickly and easily. When a cure is no longer an option, VNA Community Healthcare & Hospice provides individuals and families with choices, control and comfort in their final months. As a leader in healthcare at home and the self-care movement, the agency proudly serves 35 towns in southern Connecticut.

For more information, visit www.ConnecticutHomecare.org or call 203-458-4200.