Home Health and Hospice puts the community’s aging population first

The home health and hospice team provides highly rated care and offers much-needed programs for our aging population

You don’t realize how important home health and hospice services are until you or a loved one needs them. At Memorial Regional Health, we want to be there for you and your family when you need us most.

Both home health and hospice service lines are accredited by the prestigious Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), meaning we offer some of the best care in the nation. Kristine Cooper, executive director of MRH Home Health and Hospice, said the goal of her department is to keep our aging population home — healthy and safe for as long as possible.

She discussed some recent happenings in the department that are important to share with our community, including a notable star rating for home health and a grant-funded program she wishes more people knew about.

Home Health’s above-average star rating

Recently, the home health services at MRH were awarded a 3.5-star rating from the Quality of Patient Care Star Rating by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That rating helps MRH stand out when compared to its regional competitors, according to Cooper, as CMS indicates that most agencies fall in the middle with 3 stars indicating good quality of care. A star rating higher than 3 means an agency performs better than average.

“It’s a good measure of the care that is provided by our staff and team who go out and help these individuals,” Cooper said. “One thing we never lose sight of is the fact that it’s a privilege to be invited in the home to provide care. It’s personal — we get to see people in their most vulnerable state, witnessing how they live every day as opposed to a clinical setting.”

Cooper credits the above-average star rating to the connections her staff makes with patients and how they always ensure to go above and beyond to fulfill their patients’ needs. The goal of staff is to exceed patients’ expectations in regard to quality of care.

“We’ve had family members reach out to us and express their gratitude for the little things our staff does — for example, how one of our nurses went out of their way to bring home food for their patient’s loved one,” Cooper explained. “Going out of their way for others is just common practice for those on my team. Our staff becomes a part of the family, and we see and acknowledge the privilege in that.”

The home health team has over 25 years of experience providing care in the area. The team consists of nurses, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a social worker and an office manager. It’s important to note the same nurses, therapists and support staff who provide home health services also provide hospice services at MRH, with the addition of local Chaplains.

“We’ve been working continually to improve our star rating, and we hope and anticipate that it will progressively get better with time until we reach 5 stars,” Cooper said.

Transitions to Home program

The MRH home health and hospice department focuses on the aging population as a whole and aims to ensure they are receiving any relevant and necessary care. Sometimes, that entails home health and hospice services — other times, it may just be a simple connection to resources. The Transitions to Home program, offered by MRH Home Health and Hospice, is just that.

The program is geared toward anyone who is transitioning from out of the hospital or another healthcare facility back into their home. It’s for individuals 50 and older, and it connects them with support and additional resources to keep them safe and comfortable in the home. Really, any individual older than 50 who has experienced a recent health event and needs access to community resources can benefit from the program. These are folks who aren’t quite in need of home health services or any sort of hands-on care.

“Our social worker works with them for four weeks or longer, if needed, to really focus on comfort and stress, community resources, independence and lifeline or other services,” Cooper said.

The program is completely grant-funded through the NextFifty Initiative, a private foundation dedicated to improving the lives of the older adult population and their caregivers, so there is no cost to the individual who is in this program at MRH.

“It’s really about helping our aging population in the community remain safe, healthy and independent in the home,” Cooper explained. “Whether they need help with their prescriptions or just need to know about community resources that are relevant to them in the home, we understand that when you experience a health event and are released from the hospital, you have questions. It can be helpful to have an expert navigate those questions for you.”

For more information on the Transitions to Home program, Cooper encourages individuals to reach out to MRH’s home health and hospice department.

About Home Health and Hospice at MRH

Home health and hospice services are both offered locally, and though they are housed in the same department, they cater to different needs of the patient.

Home health focuses on treatment and getting the patient back on track to live their life as normal. It is geared toward maintaining goals and progressing to increased independence after a major health event, like hip surgery. Staff helps these patients in their home with any medical needs.

Any individuals who are interested in receiving home health services, whether for yourself or a loved one, are welcome to reach out to the home health and hospice department. You or your loved one must qualify for a skilled medical service and must have a difficult time getting out of the home on a regular basis to receive treatment.

Hospice, on the other hand, is geared towards assisting patients and their families on transitioning and coping with an end-of-life terminal illness. Services include counseling, spiritual and nursing services focused on symptom management. Support and bereavement services are offered for the family after their loved one passes away for up to 13 months.

“It’s really focused on that comfort of care — we are not curing or treating the patient so that their health improves, or they get better,” Cooper explained.

Both services are offered in the home, though hospice can be offered in a clinical setting if necessary. Although many people believe these types of care to be expensive, both are completely covered under Medicare. Cooper encourages those to seek help from her team if they are looking for reliable, local care.

“Our team has been providing home care locally for over 25 years,” Cooper concluded. “We are connected to our community, and I think that’s something that speaks to our patient population.”