Advisory Board Profile: Wendy Phillips-Chavez, MSN, RN, Director at The Advocacy Center, Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care

The Private Duty Home Care Advisory Board is made of some of the most experienced and talented leaders in the private duty community. Each of our Advisory board members is committed to the mission and vision of the organization and ensuring our members are well represented and receive the tools, support, and resources you need to provide the highest quality and caliber care and services to your clients and families. 

In our reccurring Advisory Board Profile series we invite you to get to know our advisory board members better through a short Q&A interview, and learn more about why they choose to dedicate their professional lives to the private duty home care community. 

This week, we have the pleasure of sharing a little more with you about Wendy Philips-Chavez, MSN, RN, Director at The Advocacy Center, Thrive Skilled Pediatric Care.

Wendy, tell me about how you would describe what you do to someone you just met.

I am nurse that specializes in legislative policy and advocacy.  My role takes many paths, including working with state legislators on healthcare policies, collaborating with colleagues on ways to improve the industry of home care, working with state and federal health and human services departments to improve processes, rates, and access to care for the patients, as well as providing a voice to our home care patients and families as they choose to remain at home to receive their care. 

Tell me about how you ended up working in private duty home care. How did your professional journey bring you to where you are today?  

I have been a Registered Nurse since 1990, attending a community college in my hometown of Hickory, NC.  I began my nursing career while raising a family and working at the local hospital on the Nephrology/Oncology units. In 1995, I tried out home health nursing and was hooked!  I appreciated and valued my experience in an acute care setting because I gained valuable clinical skills to adapt to a wide array of diagnosis encountered in the home health setting.  Being able to provide one on one care to patients in their home made me appreciate the challenges to attain optimal health.  I continued my educational path by obtaining my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a focused track on Public Health and Community Health populations.  I have worked with home health and hospice over the past 25 years in the adult, senior, and pediatric population.  I currently work in the pediatric space on legislative and healthcare advocacy for the pediatric home care population.

Why choose private duty home care? Why not something else, or some other part of home care?

Being able to provide care to someone in their home is the ultimate game changer to improve health outcomes.  By meeting a patient in their own surroundings, caregivers can establish more trusting relationships and better determine how the patient will adapt to prescribed interventions.  Unlike inpatient settings, in-home caregiving allows the recipient to have more control over the care they receive and remain more independent.  

What do you find to be the most rewarding about your job?

I am fulfilled in knowing that I am a voice to those that are silenced by their disease or do not have the capabilities, knowledge, or resources to gain the support and resources they need.  Winning comes in many different forms; improvement in health, remaining safe at home, gaining support through regulatory or legislative change, or giving a patient the ability to die a dignified death.

As a nurse, an important part of what we do each day, no matter what specialty we work, is to give a voice to our patients.  

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

I love to educate others about the important work we do each day, not only in home care services, but in nursing as a whole.  The challenge of educating those that are not aware of the importance of our services is an opportunity to bring about change.  Challenges are only opportunities to bring about positive change.

What Is your favorite memory working in Private duty home care? Why?

Over the past 25 years in home care, there are certainly many things that are in my memory bank.  The funniest memory is the time that I was called out on an Easter Sunday to a home health patient receiving tube feedings.  The elderly man lived with his daughter and her family, consisting of 2 small children and a new bunny that was a gift to the children for Easter.  The bunny chewed through the feeding tube on Easter morning without anyone discovering until later when it drank all of the supplement, leaving the tube on the floor and the feeding bag empty. 

Another important memory was being asked to speak at the funeral of a patient I had advocated for.  I was honored to know that, even in her passing, I was able to tell her story to others so that her spirit and fight would not be forgotten.  

What is the one thing that keeps you up at night professionally?

I am very passionate about what I am honored to do each day and take opportunities to meet the families and patients for which I advocate.  By knowing their stories, I know that each decision made by the “politics” of healthcare will affect them.  My constant thoughts are to make sure that each patient receiving care receives my best efforts to make their lives better.  I sometimes lie awake at night wondering if I have done all that I could, or what I could strategize to do better to improve their lives.

What made you first get involved with private duty home care at NAHC?

Private Duty Home Care at NAHC is a natural extension of my role.  By collaborating with like-minded colleagues, I know we can make a difference in our patients lives.

What would you say to someone considering becoming a Private Duty Home Care at NAHC member?

Becoming a member of Private Duty Home Care at NAHC will allow your voice to be heard by joining efforts with those in the industry.  Your involvement can be as much or as little as you can provide, but by becoming a member, you join forces with a group of dedicated professionals that work to improve the lives of those that wish to remain at home for their healthcare needs.

What would you say to someone who was considering a career in private duty home care?

There is no better feeling than to know you can work one on one with someone in their home and provide holistic care that adapts to their individualized care.  The satisfaction of being a private duty home care employee comes by knowing you have left your patient safe, clean, and healthy when you leave your assigned shift or visit.  It is cliché, but true, “Home is Where the Heart Is”, but it is also where the best care is.

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, we thank Wendy for her detailed and candid responses. We are honored to have her as a distinguished member of the PD Advisory Board and thank her for her dedication, commitment, and passion to the Private Duty home care community.