In 2010, the Institute of Medicine published the vision for how to transform healthcare to achieve a more seamless patient-centered, high-quality system of care. Among the recommendations were four specifically focused on leveraging nursing which is the largest group of healthcare workers: (1) Ensure that nurses can practice to the full extent of their education and training, (2) Improve nursing education, (3) Provide opportunities for nurses to assume leadership positions and to serve as full partners in healthcare redesign and improvement efforts, and (4) Improve data collection for workforce planning and policy making. At the Care New England Health Care System's Visiting Nurse Association, located in the state of Rhode Island, we redesigned access to end-of-life care by leveraging these recommendations. An experienced palliative care nurse practitioner (NP) leads the program development to improve care delivered by home healthcare nurses and NP specialists. This program was designed to allow patients to remain in their preferred setting of care—their home—until the end of their life. In the 5 years of this program's existence, it has achieved a yearly impact on community-based palliative care and hospice services. The number of documented advance directives increased by 75%, referrals to palliative care and hospice increased by 300% and the length of time on hospice doubled. In addition, NP home visits became an accepted referral source and improvements in both the quality and satisfaction scores for the home healthcare agency were realized.
Therese Rochon, MA, MS, FNP-C, ACHPN, is Director, Advanced Illness Management, VNA Care New England, Warwick, Rhode Island.
Esther Emard, MSN, RN, MSLIR, is a Graduate Faculty, School of Nursing, and an Adjunct Instructor, School of Medicine and Health Science, George Washington University, Washington, DC; Former Care New England Board Member.
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Address for correspondence: Therese Rochon, MA, MS, FNP-C, ACHPN, Advanced Illness Management, VNA Care New England, 51 Health Lane, Warwick, RI 02886 (TRochon@VNACareNewEngland.org).