About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?
Essay response by Rochelle Howden
In-home care is a major necessity in the state of Florida and in the city of Fort Lauderdale, where I was raised. Many elderly people move to Florida from up north to avoid the cold weather and enjoy their retirement. This not only increases the geriatric population in society but it also increases the need for HHA’s and CNA’s to work at home with these patients. The challenges I have heard from my mother, a home health aide, and from other CNA’s are training, the amount of patients, and the hours.
The first challenge these section healthcare seems to face is the training of the individuals taking care of these patients. My mother has been an HHA for about 4 years now, she complains about how the information she was taught during her program has little to do with what she does now. Some of the necessary skills needed to take care of the in-home patients are above her credentials or weren’t taught in the program curriculum. For example, my mother started taking care of a diabetic patient and was never taught the proper way to check a blood sugar reading. Another patient she was assigned to was an amputee hooked up to an IV and other machines she had no idea how to use. A nurse would visit the home maybe once a week but these patients needed higher care than what my mother’s certification allows her to do. From what I have observed many times this happens because paying an HHA or a CNA is less expensive than paying an LPN or an RN to do the job.
The ratio of patient to in-home care workers is by far a great challenge in Fort Lauderdale. There are plenty of nursing homes but on top of that there are in-home healthcare agencies, it seems like, on every street. This results in plenty of patients requiring in-home care and not as many in-home care professionals. With this being one of the challenges, there are a lot of schedule changes and patient mistrust since they don’t get to stick with one aide.
Also, in-home care can also have terrible hours. Since, one of the duties of an in-home professional is to help the patient with activities of daily living, such as cooking, cleaning, driving, bathing, and taking medication, the HHA or CNA may be required to live with the patient. There are also the cases where the patient only needs someone during the night so companions, HHA, and CNA’s can have 12 hour shifts every day. These shifts can make it very difficult to spend time with your families and do much of anything during the day.
Often times the pay rate isn’t good enough for the work that is being requested of these professionals. The drive to help others makes the job worthwhile. I believe if these kinks were worked out of this field of healthcare that there would be a greater urge to become an in-home professional because it is necessary for the quality of life for many of these patients.
By updating the course that HHA or CNA’s and also even the skills they are allowed would make it easier for them to do quality work. Also, the popularity of the job isn’t as emphasized as a nurse so if more information was put out for In- Home jobs there would be a better chance of evening out the patient to professional ratio. Lastly, the agency should find better ways to regulate the work hours so that the healthcare professionals don’t have to give up their lives or bounce around from patient to patient.
Rochelle is currently a student at the University of Central Florida.