FROM THE EDITOR
Welcome to 2015 and the first issue of Home Healthcare Now (HHN)! While the new name reflects an increased emphasis on interprofessional healthcare, long time readers will find very little has changed in the journal they have loved and subscribed to for years. Hospital leaders struggle to encourage interprofessional collaboration among care providers, but the delivery of home healthcare has always been interprofessional. It was when I became a home healthcare nurse that I came to understand the important contributions of physical, occupational, and speech therapists, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians and home health aides to a patient’s recovery. Keep in mind that members of the interprofessional team aren’t limited to professional care providers. Agency administrators and informal caregivers and family members are also important team members and are essential to produce the best possible outcomes.
Many of the articles published in Home Healthcare Nurse over the years have been of importance to any clinician practicing their profession in the home setting. Topics such as patient education, motivational interviewing, safety in the home (for both patients and care providers), diabetes, depression and infection prevention are of value to all home healthcare providers. This month’s issue is no exception. Author Judy Young wrote a comprehensive article on common causes of low vision in older people and the many devices and aids that can help patients adapt and maintain independence. This is important for patient education and interventions by members of any healthcare profession. The Commentary this month is also related to low vision. It recounts a personal story of low vision and how it can affect informal caregivers. Marilyn Harris, a long-time contributor to HHN tells of caring for her husband with age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Yvonne Johnson conducted an interesting qualitative study about home healthcare nurses’ perceptions and experiences with elder self-neglect. It brought back many memories of patients I saw over the years that fit that description. Most home healthcare professionals at some point will encounter a patient who self neglects. Despite the frequency with which this occurs, there is very little research on self-neglect and home healthcare. When I used to see patients who I perceived as self-neglecting, my immediate reaction was to call upon the expertise of my social work colleagues. The nurses in this study also identified the social worker to be the most important team member when faced with a patient who they felt was self-neglecting. Readers of any profession will be interested in this article.
The columns “A Day in the Life of… “ and “Commentary” have introduced HHN readers to a variety of home healthcare providers and issues of universal importance and interest. We heard about Norma Nichols, Hospice Music Therapist, last June, and a community health nurse in India in the July/August issue. Social worker Gale Logan- Mullings wrote about the team concept in the June issue, and physical therapist Ibijoke Betty Ayetiwa described what she learned from a memorable patient. Last October, author Karl Irish, an LVN by background and an aspiring futurist, wrote a commentary about the future of home healthcare, and in November, author Janet Smith wrote a compelling commentary about the epidemic of suicide among home healthcare patients.
Many of us did not have the benefit of interprofessional education. We were educated and subsequently practiced in “silos.” Research has demonstrated that healthcare providers who don’t know one another, and don’t know what the other professions contribute to patient care and outcomes, don’t communicate well. When we don’t talk to each other, and aren’t even sure of what information is needed by other healthcare providers, patients can suffer. Important information is not relayed, duplicate tests are ordered, medications don’t start on time and patients can experience adverse outcomes.
Fortunately interprofessional education and interprofessional professionalism are getting a lot of attention these days. Interprofessional professionalism is defined as: “Consistent demonstration of core values evidenced by professionals working together, aspiring to, and wisely applying principles of altruism and caring, excellence, ethics, respect, communication, and accountability to achieve optimal health and wellness in individuals or communities” (Interprofessional Professionalism Collaborative (IPC), 2014). The IPC has developed a tool to measure professionalism when interacting with members of other professions. It is being tested and will be available soon. For more information on the collaborative and to see the tool when it is available, go to: http://interprofessionalprofessionalism.weebly.com/
Have you got a story to share about interprofessional care? A time when things went exceptionally well? Or a time when things didn’t go so well? We can all learn from your experiences. Consider writing about it as a Commentary, A Day in the Life of… or in a letter to the editor. As always I look forward to hearing from you.
Maureen Anthony, PhD, RN
Interprofessional Professionalism Collaborative (2014). What is interprofessioanal professionalism? Retrieved from http://interprofessionalprofessionalism.weebly.com/