Exemplary Professional Practice

Carle Home Care and Hospice Update
nursing image

Carle home care and hospice have a lot to be proud of this year. Besides the continued growth of their services, they put into place several new initiatives and received stellar awards.

“Carle Home Care has seen growth this year”, Jennifer Wilken MSN, RN, COS-C, CDP, Home Care, Hospice and Post Acute Care director said.

This fall, they had their first Home Care Symposium, an educational event meant to provide awareness and education to clinicians on this patient group. Another new initiative is the expansion of home care services for the pediatric population. In the past, this group of young patients did not have access to home therapy services and now, nurses help to coordinate the services of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Another significant achievement is the department’s excellence with Medicare’s Review Choice Demonstration program. It reviews all of the Medicare patient’s home care documentation and plans of care. For their first reporting period, Carle Home Care received a 100 percent affirmation rate for their excellence.

“This rating demonstrates the exceptional care provided to the patients. It is clearly seen in the nursing documentation”, Wilken said.

Carle Hospice has also been making impactful changes. They have expanded their volunteer pool for the Caring Presence program. A caring presence need is identified and coordinated by the hospice nurses. This program provides a support person to be with a patient or even a family member through the end of life for those who need a supportive presence and so no patient dies alone.

In the past year, hospice has also increased their presence in the inpatient setting. They work with palliative care providers to update order sets that reflect the most up to date care. They also collaborate closely with the acute care nurses and the care team to provide the best care at the end of a patient’s life if they are unable to leave the hospital setting. Additionally, the hospice liaison assists to transition an end of life patient out of the hospital if possible.

When we think of hospice, we rarely think of the young, but Carle Hospice does provide pediatric hospice care. They also coordinate a special annual event for children who have lost loved ones. Camp Healing Heart, held each year at Allerton Park, just completed its 15th year. This is a special event where grief counselling, celebration of life, remembrance, and a supportive environment are paired with a traditional camp setting. “The kids are an inspiration to all of us”, Wilken said.

A new Post-Acute Care Collaborative service line was also launched. This part of the team focuses on the patient transition of care from the hospital to local Skilled Nursing Facilities or other post-acute care providers.

“We want our patients to receive high-quality care even when they leave the Carle facility”, Wilken said. “This program has helped us close a gap in the system”. The collaborative is a group of Carle staff as well as representatives from local Skilled Nursing Facilities that meet periodically to review quality metrics, develop best practices, and look at opportunities to improve the transition of care. Since the collaborative began Carle has seen a decrease in readmission rates back to the hospital, and even better, a decrease in length of stay at the Skilled Nursing Facilities.

Wilkens says, “The decreased length of time at a skilled facility is really what the patients want and we want to support that.”