Archive for Home Health Aides

It’s Hard to Cure Stubborn

“I’ll give you six minutes . . .”

70-90% of the population is right-handed. I’m one of them. When recovering from carpal tunnel surgery on my right wrist back in 2013, various mundane tasks became a tad challenging:

  • Being on or near a toilet (I’m keeping descriptions G-rated).
  • Zipping any zipper.
  • Tucking in my shirt.
  • Brushing my teeth.
  • Washing my left hand.
  • Putting on my dog’s collar.
  • Taking a shower.

All activity seemed an ever-changing obstacle course of once simple gestures and decisions. Fortunately, I have a wife willing to lend a hand. Unfortunately, I am a stubborn guy. She offered to help with my shirt-tucking endeavors. No way! Can I help you zip that zipper? I’ve got it! I relented on the shower. There’s only so many hours in the day and who wants to spend significant clock time air-drying rather than using a towel wielded by a different set of hands?

My ordeal lasted barely a week. Read More →

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Please Say “Yes!” to a Home Health Aide!

Why would hospice patients say no to a home health aide?

At our weekly hospice team meetings, we review every patient’s current situation. This includes the various staff assigned to a patient’s care. It goes something like this:

What about Juan Lopez?

  • Nurse . . . two to three times a week
  • Social Worker . . . one to two times a month
  • Chaplain . . . phone contact only
  • Home Health Aide . . . declined
  • Volunteer . . . one to two times a month

What about Mary Jones?

  • Nurse . . . one time a week
  • Social Worker . . . two to three times a month
  • Chaplain . . . two to three times a month
  • Home Health Aide . . . declined
  • Volunteer . . . declined

Of course, the above names are fictional. In a typical meeting, the hospice where I work will talk in detail about scores of patients. We discuss the recent deaths and new admissions, along with all of the ongoing patients served in their homes or facilities. Every patient has a choice about which of their “team” provides direct support to them. However, every patient must be seen by a nurse, from as little as several times a month to (though rare) every day. It depends on the needs. Read More →

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How Much Time is Left?

One of the hospice home health aides (HHA) went to a patient’s home. Among other things, she gave him a bath. Let’s call our HHA by the name of Jane.

“About how much longer will this take?” the patient—let’s call him Arturo—asked.

I don’t know if this was the first bath for Arturo, or if Jane had given him a number of baths over the prior weeks. In hospice, the aides are a critical part of a patient’s care. They do the grunt work of supporting the patient when he or she is most vulnerable: showering or bathing, brushing teeth, commode duties, and helping ensure there is safe movement from a wheelchair to a bed.

Maybe a patient is incontinent with bowel or bladder. Some patients complain often, others make every visit a delight. In certain homes, the caregiver—perhaps the patient’s spouse or daughter—fears making a mistake and the HHA will teach—a literal show and tell—some of the better ways to help with the “simple” tasks for a loved one.

When a patient takes a bath, naked as a newborn, he is vulnerable. When a patient begins to trust the HHA with her failing, fragile body, she’ll reveal fears about living or dying. He might share childhood tales or family memories. She might talk about an ancient guilt or a recent regret.

And many times, patients will ask questions . . . Read More →

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