Private Duty Home Care at NAHC Advisory Board Profile: Neal Kursban

The Private Duty Home Care Advisory Council is made of some of the most experienced and talented leaders in the private duty community. Each of our Advisory Council 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 reoccurring Advisory Council 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 home care community.

This week we have the pleasure of sharing a little more with you Neal Kursban, CEO, Family & Nursing Care, and one of the newest members of the Private Duty Home Care Advisory Council.

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

I’m so proud that for 53 years and counting that we have assisted older adults to maintain their independence and quality of life as they age by referring them amazing Caregivers who provide companionship, ADLs, and peace of mind to their loved ones. We service the Maryland and Washington D.C. region.

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 am so fortunate to have literally “grown up” in this business. My mother, Sandy Kursban, is a pioneer of this industry having started Family & Nursing Care in 1968 out of her deep respect for, and sensitivity toward, older adults. She brought her work home with her in the sense that she instilled the values of help and service to others, in me and my siblings from the earliest age. As I set out on my own professional path, my mother’s tutelage brought me back to the family business – Family & Nursing Care – where I’ve now worked for over 25 years. I’ve worked in every job in the company including receptionist, care coordinator, Caregiver recruiter, intake specialist, overseeing IT, VP Sales/Marketing, VP Operations, and VP Finance. These roles helped me understand all the important details of running the company and set me up for success in the role of CEO.

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

I am fortunate enough to be in a family business that exclusively services the private duty segment of the older adult population. Having grown the business during my time from the $4M business it was when I arrived 25 years ago to the $40M business it is today, we’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and the need to always be innovating and improving. I’ve considered expanding into other lines of business in the home care arena but keep coming back to focusing exclusively on being the best of the best in every market we service.

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

I have two answers. One of the most rewarding part of my job is the letters and emails we receive on a daily basis (no exaggeration) from clients and their families about the incredible impact Family & Nursing Care has had on them. These letters express the gratitude clients’ and their families have for helping them. You can really tell that we have succeeded in lifting a tremendous weight off of their shoulders. The second most rewarding part of my job is knowing we are making such a positive difference in the lives of our over 1,300 Caregivers who often tell us we “spoil” them. Yet, I always feel what we’re doing for this lower income population is never enough.

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

I wish that more potential clients and family members would know that getting home care services does not have to be a lifetime decision. Despite our efforts to educate the market, many agonize over what they think there is a long-term contract they’re committing to for their loved ones and become reticent to even call to find out more about services.
What is your favorite memory working in Private duty home care? Why?

Two times a year, we throw a huge party and celebrate with our wonderful Caregivers. We rent out a huge ballroom, hire a DJ, cater native foods, dancing, massage chairs, photo booth, giveaway prizes like iPads, TVs, Cash, etc. It’s so uplifting spending time in such a fun, relaxing atmosphere while getting to know the Caregivers on a more personal level.

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

Thinking about our remarkable caregivers who are calling in for work and not having the right client with the right hours for them to care for. Caregivers often live hand to mouth and every day they aren’t working is putting them as risk of being behind on their bills, paying rent, etc. Additionally, this past year with the underlying stress of COVID and despite the tremendous investment we made in PPE, COVID testing, etc., ensuring the safety and well-being of our Caregivers. I’m always thinking about what more we can do to help keep both our Caregivers and clients as safe as possible.

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

As CEO of a successful private duty home care company, I am well aware of the importance of service to others. This extends far beyond the Caregiver and client relationship. For our business to be a true success, we need to also give back in other ways. One of those ways is to lend some of the expertise that I’ve gained over the years and work with my peers to pool our knowledge and resources to advocate for necessary changes that can have a positive effect on our entire industry.

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

Come aboard! We are so happy to have you join the organization and contribute to its mission.

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

If they have the combination of a big heart and solid business mind, then as Nike says: “Just Do It.” Not only do you develop a keen business acumen, but day in and day out, you are secure in the knowledge that the work you do is meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling.

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, we thank Neal for sharing so candidly his personal experience and passion for the industry. We are honored to have him as a distinguished member of the PD Advisory Council and thank him for his dedication, commitment, and passion to the Private Duty home care community.

Private Duty Home Care at NAHC Advisory Board Profile: Barbara Byers

The Private Duty Home Care Advisory Council is made of some of the most experienced and talented leaders in the private duty community. Each of our Advisory Council 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 reoccurring Advisory Council 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 home care community.

This week we have the pleasure of sharing a little more with you about Barbara Byers, President of Western Illinois Home Health Care and one of the newest members of the Private Duty Home Care Advisory Council.

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

I manage staff and resources to assist families to keep their loved ones at home as long as possible.

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 started a home health care company 40 years ago. A few years in I saw the need for support services so added that company and service to our operation to service our community.

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

I see private duty home care an essential partner with home health care to keep people at home during transitions of health.

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

Hearing from people in my community how we served them and their loved ones and how wonderful and important the service was.

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

The most challenging is attracting and keeping enough staff as demand for services increase.

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

When my company took care of my brother, I experienced how wonderful our service can be to the client and family.

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

Balancing pay and rewards for staff against restrictions of resources.

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

I have been a NAHC member for years for home health care. I wanted to get involved with private duty home care at NAHC because I see the important link these services on national level to advocate importance of both services to keep people at home.

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

I believe these two services, private duty home care, and home health care are the future to keep people in their homes. I also believe it is vital they understand each other’s service. Having both under one national organization achieves that aim.

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

It is very rewarding work to be in. It is the future of health care as people choose to stay home. COVID has accelerated this movement.

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, we thank Barbara for her candid responses and sharing a bit more about her experience in home care. We are honored to have her as a distinguished member of the PD Advisory Council and thank her for her dedication, commitment, and passion to the Private Duty home care community.

Advisory Board Profile: Brandy Shifteh

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 reoccurring 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 Brandy Shifteh, Regulations Compliance Manager for MatrixCare and HEALTHCAREfirst.

Brandy, Tell me about how you would describe what you do to someone you just met.  

I am the Regulations Compliance Manager for MatrixCare and HEALTHCAREfirst, two leading healthcare SaaS companies owned by ResMed. We provide a variety of EMR software and analytics for the out of hospital/post-acute care space, inclusive of skilled nursing, continuing care retirement communities and assisted living communities, home health, hospice and private duty homecare. We also provide services such as survey, billing, diagnoses coding and assessment reviews. 

I am a member of the product management team, and responsible for monitoring and analyzing regulations that impact home health care, hospice, and private duty homecare to help ensure that our software and services support existing and new CMS regulatory requirements. I also do clinical analytics work for MatrixCare and am very involved in the ongoing development and enhancements of our clinical analytics that support scrubbing of Home Health OASIS assessment data, case mix/HIPPS scoring, clinical assessment and care plan reviews and coding.

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’m a Registered Nurse and formerly practiced clinically in critical care and the home health care setting. I fell in love with home and community-based services, as it is very humbling to be invited into the homes of your clients and see first-hand the struggles many individuals face, particularly seniors with multiple chronic conditions whose needs extend far beyond medical and disease management. Providing care in the home affords you the ability to do meaningful work every day by helping your clients not only manage their medical conditions, but also navigate daily activities and life at home where they want to be.

I spent the last 25 years of my career in operations leadership, managing home health, hospice and private duty home care operations nationally, then transitioned into home and community-based services consulting, and finally came to MatrixCare, where I work in clinical analytics and regulatory compliance, which I find incredibly rewarding. I’ve walked in our clients’ shoes and now I am part of a team that innovates and finds solutions to help healthcare providers — and that is deeply personal to me.

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

While my work encompasses home health, hospice and private duty home care, the private duty and personal care services industry has special meaning to me and my family, as we have utilized personal caregiving services for two grandparents at end-of-life, as well as for my father-in-law, who suffered from a very aggressive form of Alzheimer’s disease.  The aides who provided care became like family to us and we will be forever grateful for the love, support and compassion they gave every day. Without that care and service, we would not have been able to keep our loved ones at home.

These powerful experiences influenced my decision to focus on home and community-based services in my professional life, in hopes that I could provide that compassionate support for other clients and their families.

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

During my time as a home health nurse, I struggled with finding balance between work and my personal life/family, as the regulatory and supporting documentation requirements can be incredibly burdensome. I eventually left the field and clinical practice and went into operations leadership. All through those years I languished over trying to identify better tools and supports for our field staff to ease those burdens so they could spend more time with their clients and find balance between work and home life. It is such a struggle, and turnover in the field can feel immense.

I am very grateful that something led me to my current work in regulatory compliance and clinical analytics at MatrixCare. Supporting our organization’s mission is incredibly rewarding and personal to me. We are always looking for new ways to innovate and develop analytics and software solutions that are integrated and intuitive, so that clinicians and caregivers can spend more time caregiving and less time documenting.  

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

The regulatory environment is always quite dynamic; however, this past year has been especially intense with both the current COVID-19 public health emergency and the presidential election. The pace of regulatory waivers and interim legislative rulemaking has been constant, rapid and continually evolving. Additionally, as we have come into calendar year-end, we see CMS pushing through rulemaking at a very rapid rate.

Given the complexity of the regulatory landscape, I am proud to be part of a company like MatrixCare that is proactive in navigating and addressing the frequent changes to ease the burden of these challenges for caregivers — who already have plenty to think about!

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

Many years ago, when I was managing operations, the husband of one of our clients who had recently passed away came into the office because he personally wanted to tell leadership what their aide had meant to his wife and himself. We cried together as he reminisced about so many specific instances that meant so much to him and his wife. In the midst of this very humbling and touching moment, who walks into the office — their aide! It was such a beautiful moment, and I was so grateful to be included and witness it. 

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

Concerns about the most vulnerable seniors, residents, and patients among us having the means and access to the care and services that they need to help them stay successfully at home, which is where they want to be. This has been a strong area of focus for me throughout my career, as I’ve worked hard to advocate for other patients just as I advocated for the care of my own family members. 

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

My interest goes way back to the time I first attended a NAHC annual conference. The educational offerings and networking opportunities were — and continue to be — phenomenal! It became evident immediately that the benefits of membership would be immense. 

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

I would say it is the right choice. NAHC is an industry leader in advocacy, with significant contacts and visibility in Washington. NAHC empowers Private Duty Homecare, and provides a vast platform of resources, inclusive of education, networking, innovation, certification, and accreditation opportunities. With the organization’s support, you can feel confident you are making the best impact on both the patients you serve and the industry at large. 

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

This is an incredibly needed and valuable industry, with roles that have the potential to become so much more than a career, as private duty home care touches the lives of others in very personal and rewarding ways. I would like to personally thank all the healthcare providers on the front lines doing an incredibly important and brave job during this pandemic. You sacrifice every day and are true heroes!

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, we thank Brandy 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. 

Advisory Board Profile: Melissa Kalinowski, Vice President at Corridor Group

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 Melissa Kalinowski, Vice President Corridor Group.

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

I lead Corridor’s Coding Services business line, a global operation and cross-functional team of highly experienced clinicians and operations experts delivering tech-enabled coding and documentation review services to home health & hospice organizations across the country.  

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 actually don’t work directly in private duty home care.  Although my current profession is centered around home health and hospice, our education service line works with private duty policy and state specific policy, which is expanding our reach & strengthening our knowledge in this market.  

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

I wanted to be part of private duty home care to get further exposed to the needs of the clients & industry and leverage Corridor’s platform as a way to reach audiences that cross private duty, home health and hospice agencies.

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

Being able to solve our client’s coding services problems regardless of their size, EMR, staff capabilities, etc. is most rewarding because it allows our clients to focus on providing excellent patient care while we take care of their business needs.  

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

The most challenging aspect of the job is recognizing that not all client partnerships work out. While it is very few and far between, working with a client & realizing we aren’t the most compatible, is something that we agree to disagree in order to move forward.  We want to do what’s right for both organizations.

What do you most look forward to professionally in private duty home care?  Why?

I look forward to working with the Private Duty Home Care at NAHC advisory board members.  They are a dedicated team, who has a wealth of knowledge to share with the Private duty home care industry.  

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

Being able to continue to anticipate our client’s needs and finding innovative solutions that broadens our reach within the post-acute care industry.

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

I have several Corridor colleagues that are NAHC board and committee members and thought this was a great way to get involved and see what parallels I can draw from & how I can contribute to this group.

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

This group is very welcoming and always open to ideas and feedback.  Their passion about the industry and willingness to advocate on behalf of the industry is apparent. 

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

Maintaining various degrees of independence in a person’s home is a top priority for most people and being a contributor to that longevity of lifestyle is rewarding.  

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, we thank Melissa 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. 

Advisory Board Profile: Dr. Lucy Andrews, CEO At Your Service Home 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 Dr. Lucy Andrews, CEO of At Your Service Home Care.

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

I passionately advocate and care for those whose goal is living with health and independence at home.

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 started my nursing career 40 years ago, worked in hospital systems for ten years, and then discovered home care services. Since that time, I have worked in every aspect of home care services; home health, hospice, home care aide services and all the other post-acute care services… SNF, DME scheduler, etc. If it is home care I have done it, that just shows you I’m “old”… Oh, I mean experienced.

Along the way I earned my masters in healthcare administration and my doctorate degree in nursing, with the emphasis on dementia and the aging brain.         

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

After I worked for almost 10 years in the Medicare-certified world, I realized there was a whole other aspect of home care that really made the ultimate difference for people as they strived to stay independent at home. While the nurse and the physical therapist are crucial to their goal of independence, often times what ultimately kept someone at home was having an aide there that helped them get dressed, cook a meal, and helped them combat isolation and loneliness. I found this so compelling that I left the home health setting and opened my own home care agency; that was 18 years ago         

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

Making a difference in the life of another person.

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

Finding and retaining staff.

What is your favorite memory working in private duty home care? Why?

The day I opened and took our first patient for care.

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

Staffing (laughs out loud)

What made you first get involved with NAHC and Private Duty Home Care at NAHC?

I have been a NAHC member for 30 years and only missed one annual meeting, which was when my house burned down. I was on the original team that started the Private Duty Home Care Association (PDHCA), now Private Duty Home Care at NAHC. 

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

NAHC offers the best advocacy education and representation that we home care providers need to survive and succeed every day.

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

People think it’s easy and there are no regulations because we are not Medicare-certified to receive Medicare payments. It isn’t quite that easy, but it is the most rewarding career you can have!

***

On behalf of everyone at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, we thank Dr. Andrews for her detailed and candid responses. We are honored to have her as a distinguished, and long-time, member of the PD Advisory Board and thank her for her dedication, commitment, and passion to the private duty home care community. 

Advisory Board Profile: C. Sam Smith, CEO, Better Residential 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 C. Sam Smith, CEO Better Residential Care.

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

I own and operate a small private duty personal care services agency known as Better Residential Care (BRC) in the Chicagoland area. We generally provide “in home personal care services to people who need attendant care yet prefer to stay in their residence rather than an institutional setting”.

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 involved in home health care and home care since 2008…I began in the IT area as a CIO of a 5-agency Texas based group in the DFW area. I transitioned to a BD role with a home health EMR named Axxess in 2011, growing that SaaS provider’s footprint from 100 to over 2000 clients until I departed in 2018.

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

It is a serendipity. I had the inside opportunity due to my long- term friendship and business partnership with a prominent Chicagoland HH operator, gained through my experience with Axxess. A personal care services agency was the perfect complement to the HH/Medicare business he was/is involved in. (His agency is no longer a client of Axxess, having departed as a client a month after my departure.) He serves on my board and I advise his agency. We enjoy working together.

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

Through operating our agency, I have the opportunity to actively participate in the provision of services so that people can continue in living their best life and maintaining a positive attitude even though they may be aged and in need to assistance with the activities of daily living.

Conversely, what do you find to be most challenging?

Developing the relationships which lead to finding the right patient/clients for our agency’s services. I am fortunate to have become involved in an agency which has an active network of caregivers.

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

It has been an ongoing thing. I have had the opportunity of experiencing the joy of the active schedule of one of our clients (Ms. Loretta) who is now a 101 year old lady who leads “Great Texts” teaching modules at the ILF where she resides. Loretta has taken our agency and our caregivers into her extended family, which contains 2 sons and wives and their children—such a wonderful local family. She started her teaching group with a group of 3 residents. That group grew over a matter of months into a combined class of over 70 folks, causing a need to expand into larger and larger spaces with more need for technology to provide the lessons digitally. Her life is such a “positive energy force” and just two weeks ago had her 101st birthday. 

She is an example for me in maintaining a lifelong learning posture and a love of life that I want to emulate myself.

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

Attracting new clients. I have found that our caregiver community is a network which bring new clients to us…Sometimes making sure the right CG is matched with the right client. (As for matters that keep me up at night, I generally sleep ok.)

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

I had been involved with NAHC as a BD leadership person with Axxess and was familiar with what NAHC was all about. I respected the mission and vision for both NAHC and the state associations, many of whose executive directors and active members I had come to know personally. 

I acquired the agency in Chicago and was asked to serve as a private duty home care advisor. Of course, I wanted to add my assistance in any way I could.

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

Add your voice to the thousands of voices who effectively share the mission, vision and message of home care to the statehouses in each state and the Congress in Washington, DC. There is work to be done, and we need your help to keep the message being spread to the halls of Congress.

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

Be a part of helping others live their best life. Find a role and pitch in.

***

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

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.