Educating Others for Better Health
A Talk with Anne Rich
“We advocate for our clients when we see that there’s a problem,” said Anne Rich. ”Whether it’s medicinal or personal psychological—anything that comes up.” Anne’s strategy for advocacy involves education—for both clients and fellow Aging Life Care Specialists. At Staying Healthy at Home by Diversified Nurse Consultants, she not only works in private pay care navigation and helps keep Humana patients out of the hospital, but also serves as a nurse educator.
“I have a master’s in nursing education, and I’ve always been interested in patient and staff education,” Anne said. She helps the staff at Staying Healthy at Home stay updated on best practices for caring for the aging population by hosting webinars and creating presentations. She also uses her education training to market Staying Healthy at Home services by speaking at events to provide education to the community.
Education plays an important role in care navigation as well. Anne recalled one Humana client who had spent time in the hospital because of diabetes and other health issues, but was now trying to live at home. One day Anne stopped by to check on her, and the client had swollen ankles and was experiencing shortness of breath.
“If I hadn’t been there, she probably would’ve ended up in the emergency room,” Anne said. Anne placed a call immediately to the primary care physician to inquire about medication and learned her client needed to take an extra diuretic. Teaching the client how to deal with the situation at home saved her a trip to the ER.
That situation typifies a phenomenon Anne has noticed in other situations as well: elderly patients in particular are often hesitant to question the doctor or may not know what to ask. “We also help facilitate communication among multiple physicians to make sure the client is receiving the best possible care and, for example, isn’t double-prescribed medication,” she said.
Communicating with multiple doctors, keeping track of medications and attending numerous medical appointments can be stressful for adult children who want to serve as excellent caregivers for their parents but have lots of other responsibilities as well. Anne said she likes that Staying Healthy at Home’s services benefit not only the clients but also their families. “The families know that their loved one has someone else they can call for help,” Anne said. “We support not only the client but also the caregiver.”