Certified Case Manager Education: What is Population Health?

Population Health Management

Today’s Certified Case Manager is becoming more involved in assessing and working with information on population health. Population health looks at the data of an entire group instead of an individual patient and considers not only the general state of health of the population but typical outcomes as well.  “Population health is defined as the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” (1)

 The term “population health” is a broad one and the group examined can be defined in a variety of ways; your chosen population could be a specific town or city, race or even age group. Viewing data across a broad population can help determine the best practices of care for that particular group and allow for that group’s needs to be anticipated and met. A definition of population health is: “The inherent value of a population health perspective is that it facilitates integration of knowledge across the many factors that influence health and health outcomes.” (1).    “The CDC, which has a Division of Population Health, is far wordier and gives more of a functional definition. Population health is interdisciplinary, according to the CDC website, and an approach that uses “nontraditional partnerships” among different sectors of the community — public health, industry, academia, healthcare, local government entities — to achieve positive health outcomes.” (2)  We see more content being added today to Case Manager Certification education curriculums on this interesting and important practice topic.

William Edwards Deming was a scientist and engineer and is best known for his principles of productivity; his approaches are often modeled by organizations looking to boost efficiency and quality while lowering costs. Deming’s involvement was a key component of Japan’s recovery after WWII; he also brought his unique take on the tie between quality and productivity to corporations in the US, including the Ford Motor company. This attention to quality helped Japan rebound after WWII and become a booming economy just a decade later; it also helped Ford and other US car makers understand why Japanese motors were outperforming homegrown products year after year. Applying these same principles to population health can help improve outcomes and as a natural byproduct of that improved care, reduce costs as well.

 

The Deming Philosophy and Healthcare

The Deming philosophy or approach at its most basic states that when an organization focuses on improving quality, costs will naturally fall over time. Case managers work with this philosophy everyday and are at the forefront of guiding quality, cost-effective care.  Conversely, an organization that is focused on costs will find their quality dwindling over time. This philosophy can be applied to a variety of industries – including healthcare. When we focus on improving care and outcomes, we can expect costs to drop; focus too much on costs and the quality of care can easily slip. Case managers know this well and serve as educators today to teach this to others on the health care team.

 

Applying Deming Principles to Healthcare

Managed Care = Managed Processes

The concept of managed care is less about planning the daily work of individual providers and more about the way that the entire process works. The broad approach that is taken to care will have a larger impact on the health of specific populations; engaging and including physicians and providers in the planning process is a must. These providers are the clinicians dealing with clients on a regular basis, and their insight could hold the key to improved overall process and better levels of care.

 

Engaging Physicians in the Process of Care

Including working physicians in the conversation will greatly improve both the approach to care and the outcomes. Doctors, nurses certified case managers and other providers are working “in the trenches” daily and already have the skills and knowledge to predict what methods will work and what will not. Incorporating frontline care providers in conversations about population health is a must if we are going to properly serve that population and understand what will work (and what won’t).

 

Accurate and Timely Data is a Must

“In God we trust…and all others must bring data.”
William Edwards Deming

This Deming quote is at the heart of why data is so important. If we can’t measure population health data, there is no way to tell if measures are resulting in improved outcomes, worsened outcomes or having no impact at all. The ability to measure and compare data from a specified population is a must; without accurate data and the ability to analyze it, there is no way to determine if measures designed to improve care have any actual impact at all.

The quality-based approach outlined by Deming offers many advantages and possibilities for population health and for healthcare in general.  For true gains to be made, the right data must be collected and accessible, front-line caregivers need to be involved in the planning process, and a broad approach to care for a specific population needs to be implemented. We need to continue to provide continuing education for our case managers and others on the health care team in the quality improvement process, including the use of quality improvement tools, data collection and appropriate interpretation of data.

Some reasons we should care about population health include; 1) it is people focused, 2) it seeks to improve the health of our society, 3) it helps to reduce costs as society becomes healthier, 4) it promotes medical science to deliver better care, 5) it leads to the ability to provide better access to care, and 6) it promotes better patient engagement (3). As such it fits very well into the role of todays certified case manager. It would be most advantageous if we provide our case managers more continuing education and opportunities to become involved in this area of practice. Becoming more intimately involved in population health will assist case management profession in its ultimate growth and expansion of specialized professional practice.

Are you a licensed health care professional who is interested in becoming a Certified Case Manager? If so, you may want to preview information on our Certification and Fellowship program at the American Academy of Case Management. You may access information here.

References:

  1. David A. Kingdig (Ed.) What is Population Health? Improving Population Health: Policy, Practice, Research. University of Wisconsin. Population Health Sciences.
  2. Karen Appold. Confused About Population Health? You’ve Come to the Right Place. Managed Healthcare Executive. Vol. 30, Issue 10. October 2020.
  3. Christina Rosario. Why is Population Health Important? Advanced Data Systems Corporation. July 8, 2020.

Employee Retention Strategies For The Healthcare Industry

Doctor's uniform and stethoscope isolated in a white backgroudWritten By Lucy Peters

In the current labor market, employee retention is more important than ever. Some are describing the current period as ” the great resignation.” With the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic causing many to reassess their employment and change jobs, this is doubly true in the healthcare industry, which was of course the industry most involved with dealing with the pandemic. Employers are looking for effective strategies to increase employee well-being and therefore retention, which will reduce turnover and costs associated with hiring new employees.

Why Do Employees Leave?

To come up with useful employee retention strategies, it is first important to understand why employees leave their positions. Once we understand this, we can attempt to mitigate these circumstances as much as possible. The two biggest quoted reasons are usually salary and benefits or feeling overworked. In the healthcare industry, the second option here is usually key. In fact, even pre-pandemic, the turnover rates of US hospitals were seeing a small but steady climb, reaching 19.5% in 2020. Replacing employees is expensive and time-consuming, which is why employee retention planning is also a budgetary issue. One sensible idea is to implement an exit interview or survey when an employee moves on, in which you ask them to outline exactly why they are leaving. This data will help you more effectively design your benefits and retain future employees.

Retaining employees is critical to building strong teams and nurturing talents. The key to employee retention is keeping employees both happy and motivated. This can be a particular struggle within healthcare, an industry where long hours and a high-stress environment is commonplace. All is not lost though, as there are still effective ways to increase happiness and motivation in any work environment, and they might just be the key to reducing your turnover rates.

Review Salaries And Provide Better Work Arrangements

The first thing that should be assessed is the salaries offered. Are they lower than the industry average? Remember, lower salaries may seem like a smart financial decision but can incur “hidden” costs if they are contributing to a high turnover rate, as money is spent on replacing and onboarding new employees. These days, employees are also seeking more flexible working arrangements, and this should be implemented wherever possible.

Make Employees Feel Valued

The next step is to ensure employees feel rewarded outside of salary. Some of the most effective ways to reward employees don’t have to cost the earth, and although salary should be considered here, smaller gestures can go a long way in making an employee feel valued – rewarding employees on a budget is perfectly possible. One idea you could implement is to start weekly or monthly lunches to build morale and foster teamwork. Also, ensure hard work is recognized – for example, the gesture of sending a card can go a long way and lets employees know their work is being noticed.

Offering wellness perks such as discounted gym memberships or free classes are also a great idea, as employees that are fit and healthy are much more likely to be happy. Regular surveys where employees can express their concerns or ideas is a great option – as long as you then act on these. Not only will this increase workplace morale but it also gives your employees the chance to change their working environment for the better, empowering them to do better work.

Employee retention can be a particular struggle within the healthcare industry, which has such a high turnover rate. However, there are some important strategies that can be implemented to help mitigate this. Offering perks to increase employee happiness will go a long way, but overall, the most important thing is understanding why employees leave. The use of employee surveys will help you optimise your strategy and create a working environment that they want to be in.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Healthcare Manager Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a Healthcare Manager Program

 

What is Sciatica? How to Treat it

By: McKenzie Jones

Sciatica is a painful nerve condition that gets its name from the very nerve it affects, the sciatic nerve. When you consider that the sciatic nerve travels along the lower back via the hips, butt, and down each leg, it makes sense that people suffering from it tend to complain of lower back pain. Curiously, this condition usually only manifests along one side of the body.

Symptoms of Sciatica

Several symptoms can quickly clue a person in on whether or not they are dealing with a case of sciatica.

  • Paint that starts from the lower spine region, known as the lumbar, and spreads to the butt and along the back of a leg. There might be discomforting sensations anywhere along the sciatic nerve’s path but it most often follows this “course.”
  • Erratic levels of pain in the area. Sometimes it can feel like a minor ache, while other times it feels like you are being jabbed with a burning implement or even got zapped with electricity. The pain will usually be worse during coughing and sneezing and prolonged periods of being seated can worsen these issues. Again, this variable level of pain only manifests along one side of the body.
  • Some sciatic patients complain of numbness, tingling, or weakness in the relevant leg or foot; it is completely possible to feel pain in one section of the leg and feel numb in a separate part.

Causes of Sciatica

Sciatica usually happens when one of the following events occurs and compresses the sciatic nerve.

  • You experience a herniated disc. Your spine is composed of bones and discs. While the former is obvious, spinal discs are composed of a soft gelatinous “nucleus” surrounded by a rubbery “annulus;” herniated discs happen when the nucleus manages to seep out of a torn, damaged annulus.
  • Bone spurs manifest along the spine.
  • The spine becomes narrowed through a condition like spinal stenosis.

How to Prevent Sciatica

The best way to prevent sciatica is to look at the most common circumstances that contribute to it.

  • The spine can change as we age and scenarios like herniated discs and bone spurs are only more likely to occur the older a person gets.
  • Because excess body weight can place additional strain on the spine, it is best to try and stay lean through exercise and good dieting.
  • Jobs that involve a lot of back-twisting, handling heavyweights, or driving for long periods of time all play a role in sciatica but may not be a definitive source.
  • Lengthy Sits. Keeping active is a great way to avoid sciatica; people who stay seated for lengthy periods or whose lifestyle is mostly sedentary are far more likely to develop sciatica.
  • Diabetes manipulates the body’s blood sugar usage and can contribute to the sort of nerve damage that leads to nerve damage. In short, sciatica is another reason to practice good eating habits and avoid developing diabetes.

How to Treat Sciatica

Despite how raging the pain may be from a case of sciatica, sciatica treatment is usually resolved without surgery and can take just a few weeks. In the rare cases where conservative treatments fail to abate the symptoms or the subject has also developed extreme weakness in the legs, bowel, or bladder, doctors will resort to surgical options. If surgery is called for, the surgeon will perform a discectomy or laminectomy, procedures where they go into the part of the body that is compressing the sciatic nerve and either partly removes a bone or repair and/or replaces the herniated disc.

In Conclusion

Sciatica is a form of nerve damage, associated with the lower back, butt, and legs, that can ruin a person’s day. While the pain that flares up with this ailment can vary wildly, the fact remains that the patient is experiencing a pinch or other impairment along their sciatic nerve. Several factors contribute to sciatica and most of them can be prevented. Should you need to go to the doctor, only a small percent of sciatica cases require surgical intervention.

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Health Care Life Coaching Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Small Steps Equal Joyful Holistic Living

Holistic Health

 By: Tara Tonsetic, CHC Certified Health Care Coach

 Sometimes a simple mind shift and taking a few small steps toward change makes a world of difference during this ever-changing season of life. Small steps can lead to big changes and big changes can lead to a more joyful way of holistic living. Here are a few health care life coach tips you can do that are positive to your overall health, giving you more energy and balance.

 

Water, Water, Water!

 Keeping hydrated is a great way to help improve your overall energy level. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day (Children need 1 for each lb. they weigh). It helps to drink 20 ounces of your total consumption first thing in the morning to help start the daily process. You can always jazz it up by adding fresh fruit or drinking warm water with lemon to help boost your Immune system and balance the pH levels in your body. *Source for drinking ½ your bodyweight in ounces per day Click this link:

 

Restful Sleep.

Getting enough sleep each night is a powerful tool, simple as it sounds. Clocking seven to nine hours of sleep a night is ideal, if you can manage it. Incorporating these small changes can have long-lasting effects. Practice regular sleep patterns by going to bed at the same time each night. Disconnect from all technology at least an hour before bed, including your TV and phone in your bedroom. Also, if

you are feeling worried or anxious, it helps to write down anything that may be causing you stress. A simple list will do. Write down what you plan to do the next day, as well. This will help free up your mind and allow for a restful night’s sleep.

 

Move That Body!

 When we think about exercising, sometimes it can be overwhelming to add another task to our daily to-do lists. Start small; any movement is good, even if it is just 10-15 minutes a day. Think about what you liked to do as a kid — dance, run, jump on a trampoline? What made you feel happy? Try that out! Think outside the box. *Source for movement each day: click this link

 

Positive Attitude.

 A positive mindset can change so much. Just a simple adjustment on how you view something or how you respond to someone reflects on your overall health. We have the ability each and every day to make the choice to live with positive intentions, to celebrate all the good of life’s happenings, but also to not dwell on those that are not so happy. Remember that you are in total control of your life, how you feel, and how you respond and interact with others!

 

By making these simple changes, you are helping to balance out your blood sugar levels, which will improve your overall physical and emotional wellbeing. It also will give you more energy, thus adding more fuel to your day! Remember, little steps can equal big results. As always, though, don’t forget to grant yourself some grace when trying something different.

Are you a health care professional interested in becoming a professional Heath Care Life Coach? If you have an interest in this sub-specialty practice then the Certification program offered by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. may be just the program for you. You can preview our Certification Program at this page.

 

Additional Resources

Health Coaching: access this link

How to Calculate How Much Water to Drink:  access this link

Sleep Hygiene : access this link

 

Tara Tonsetci, CHC, is a Certified Health Coach. She may be reached at: tara.tonsetic@gmail.com

Why Hire a Certified Health Care Life  Coach?

Health care life coach By: Tara Tonsetic, CHC

Have you ever started a fitness program, but didn’t see it through to completion? Or, on the flip side, change your way of eating but it just didn’t feel right to you? Maintaining good overall wellness is super important to our everyday lives. Partnering with a Health Care Life Coach might just be the perfect solution to finding what works best for YOU!

Having good insight on your own personal wellness journey is invaluable. There are so many areas to consider, not just what you eat and how you exercise, but your mindset, attitude, how you live, and so much more. Consider hiring a Health Care Life Coach to help guide you through this process. A Coach can help to define your goals, make you conscious of your highs and lows, and most importantly help you to make a plan and hold you accountable to work that plan. A Health Coach is going to help to connect together all the areas of your life for the better.

When hiring a Health Care Life Coach, you want to build a trusting relationship where there is open and honest communication. Your coach will want you to be successful in whatever you define as your success and will help you get there through one-on-one sessions, hands-on exercises, and take away reading homework, to name a few. You may also look to hire someone who can assist with a specific focus that needs attention such as weight loss, stress management, increasing your energy levels, and addiction. There are many coaches out there that specialize in these various areas and more. Define what you would like to accomplish overall and research to find the best person out there to help you do YOU!

Remember to keep these few tips in mind when choosing the best coach for You:

A Health Care Life Coach should provide one-on-one support and take a genuine interest in helping you achieve your goals. A Health Care Life Coach will help you define the life YOU want to live and help you to make a plan to get there.

MOST IMPORTANT: Remember, YOU are always in total control of your actions and goals. The process of working with a coach will allow you to become more self-aware so that you can make the best decisions in any situation that may pop up. You will know what success means to you and you will become your own expert overtime. Happy coaching!

If you are Health Care Professional and are interested in becoming a Professional Life Care Coach, the American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. offers a full curriculum of Continuing Education Courses that leads to a national Certification in Health Care Life Coaching. You may access information on our program by visiting this page.

 

Additional Readings:

What is a Health Coach and Should you Hire One?  Access here ( https://bit.ly/3xSTZd5 )

Health Coaching for Patients with Chronic Illness  Access here (https://www.aafp.org/fpm/2010/0900/p24.html )

Why Health Care Needs Health Coaches  Access here  (https://www.physicianspractice.com/view/why-healthcare-needs-health-coaches )

 

Tara Tonsetci, CHC, is a Certified Health Coach. She may be reached at: tara.tonsetic@gmail.com

 

 

5 Best Stress Management Techniques for Students

Smiling woman with laptop giving thumb up

By Shristi Patni 

Students today experience a significant amount of stress that takes a toll on their grades, health and happiness.

A study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that teenagers have similar stress results as adults.

This means teenagers experience chronic stress and have little means to cope effectively. They feel sad, depressed or overwhelmed and don’t know how to reduce stress.

Stress also affects health-related behaviors such as exercise, diet and sleep patterns which when combined, takes a larger toll.

Causes of Students Stress

Another study was conducted to find the most common causes of stress among students. It was found that most of the stress is caused by school and their activities.

Chronic stress, if untreated, can persist into college years leading to mental health issues and academic disengagement.

The most common causes of stress among students include:

  • Work
  • Relationships
  • Transitions (living independently, moving out, graduating)
  • Social challenges
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Homework
  • School

High school students are the worst hit amongst all the students. They have to take up challenging courses, face intense competition, participate in extracurriculars, study, ace placement tests and plan for their future.

College is another place that causes a lot of stress amongst students. Once a student is accepted, the stress continues. The need to make new friends, fit in, handle the challenging workloads and live independently. Romantic relationships cause an extra layer of stress.

Students don’t understand how they can manage stress and navigate their life better.

With a full schedule of lectures, activities and assignments it’s difficult to dissipate stress.

This is why we bring you the 5 Best Stress Management Techniques for Students.

 

Tired Black Girl Waking Up In Bed With Sleep Mask

#1. Get Proper Sleep 

The number one mistake you make as a student is compromise on your sleep.

And it’s okay to stay up a night or two when you’re having fun but maintaining a proper sleep schedule is crucial to keep stress at bay.

When you deprive your body of sleep, you reduce your productivity. You feel sluggish and disoriented throughout the day.

This hinders your learning abilities and causes additional stress of missing out on your studies.

Have a strict sleep schedule. Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Don’t shy away from taking naps either.

 

Beautiful sunset run

#2. Exercise

The easiest (and cheapest) way to blow off some steam is to start exercising.

You can easily incorporate a small exercise routine into your daily schedule.

Walk or bike to school or college or do Yoga in the morning.

Exercising as little as 15 minutes a day will have a major impact on your overall health and well being.

 

 

 

#3. Start Visualizing

You can use guided imagery to reduce stress. It’s effective, easy and doesn’t require a lot of time.

Visualizations help you calm down, detach from everything and relax.

It’s also an excellent way to prepare yourself for the things that causing you the most stress.

For instance, if you’re nervous about giving a speech, sit down, light your favorite scented candle and visualize yourself giving the speech.

You’ll feel less stressed when you see yourself performing just like the way you wanted to and will by being able to prepare early on.

 

Woman relaxing on a sofa listening to music

#4. Listen to Your Favorite Music

Research suggests that listening to music can help reduce stress.

It helps you calm your mind and stimulate it as the situation demands.

Relax with your favorite melodies, “wake up” mentally by listening to upbeat music and play classical music when studying.

 

#5. Get Organizedyoung man start up working on desk

Clutter can cause immense stress, decrease your productivity and can also cost you money.

Most students are guilty of living in cluttered spaces which often leads to negative effects on their grades.

One of the best dress management techniques is to stay organized.

Ensure that your study area is a soothing, minimalist space that’s devoid of clutter and distractions.

This helps reduce stress and saves time in finding lost items and keep you positive.

A clean and tidy space will encourage you to study more and get better grades.

It’s actually worth the effort.

 

The Takeaway

Stress is a part of human life and the sooner you understand how to deal with it, the better it is.

The best stress management techniques still pretty much remain the same: eat well, exercise regularly, get proper sleep and do things that make you happy.

Other than that, self-talk and use affirmations to help you stay happy and stress-free.

Which stress management techniques work for you? Do you have any other techniques that help combat stress? Tell us in the comments section below.

 


Author Bio: Shristi Patni

Picture of Shristi Patni

Shristi is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes. She enjoys creating a list of “Things That Make Happy” or coming up with creative Food Blog Names. Formerly the Chief Content Officer at Raletta, she is currently working on her second cookbook.

Facebook: F and B Recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consultant Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Case Management Considerations: When Should You Consider Hospice Care?

Terminally ill fatherBy: Dominick L. Flarey, Ph.D, RN-BC, MBA, ANP-BC, FACHE

Executive Director
The American Academy of Case Management

 

Case Managers today are on the front lines of palliative care and hospice care. Such models of care are complex and require the management of patients with very holistic health care needs including physical, emotional and spiritual. Patients and families often find that making choices about entering a hospice care program are very difficult and often times very frightening. They realize that the patient’s prognosis is poor and that they are entering the final stages of life. Patients and families are generally entering a time of Anticipatory grieving. So many questions regarding hospice exist especially related to the type of care and support services that will be provided to both the patient and the family. Case Managers are in an excellent position to be solid advocates and managers for facilitating this entire process and support high quality and cost effective outcomes in hospice care.

Very often, the first step in the process for patients’ and families is determining when hospice care should be considered. Good hospice care programs focus on relieving, rather than curing, a terminal patient’s physical symptoms. Hospice also provides support for patients as they cope with the emotional and social facets of dying. There are several situations in which patients and families may contemplate using hospice care. It is important that case managers educate patients and families on the total array of services that hospice care provides. Many have the misconception that hospice care is for pain control only. This is the farthest from the truth, of course. Here the case manager may play a critically important role providing more detail as to the many services and benefits that are available such as coordination of physician services and communications, RN home visits and pain control, the availability of nursing assistants in the home, grief counseling services, coordination of clergy visits and spiritual counseling, as well as insurance benefits consulting.

Often, your health care provider will refer you or your family member to a hospice program. He or she will typically make the suggestion when the patient has a life expectancy of fewer than six months. Hospice care frequently takes place in the terminal patient’s home, but in appropriate circumstances can also be offered at hospitals, nursing homes, and dedicated hospice centers. Here case manager’s work closely with insurance companies and government payers to insure that the patient meets the necessary criteria for hospice care and that the care will be covered appropriately under the patients plan. Case managers having education and expertise in managed care can also help insure that he patient is getting all of the available resources provided in their insurance plans.

If your health care provider does not mention hospice or if you initially refuse the option, you may find yourself considering it at a later stage. For example, terminal patients whose families are caring for them at home may worry that they have become burdens. At the same time, family members may experience “compassion fatigue” and need some respite in order to recharge their own batteries. Hospice volunteers can provide this respite in the patient’s home or in another care setting.

Respite care is a wonderful hospice benefit and case managers can be real advocates for families when respite care is critically needed for the family. Case managers by their education and training are able to assess the family’s status for the need for respite care or make arrangements for such assessments with behavioral health professionals.

In addition to offering palliative physical care, professional hospice workers act as an emotional support base for the dying person. Death does not have to be a traumatic experience, but the process usually brings up strong feelings, desires, and concerns. Hospice care helps terminal patients experience their emotions with honesty and courage. It also helps them face tough spiritual questions that may arise as the end of life nears.

Hospice also provides social support for patients with a limited life span. Loneliness, anxiety, and anger are all natural parts of the dying process. It helps to have experienced professionals who can provide a listening ear and practical advice for day-to-day coping. It also helps to connect with other terminal patients in support groups, counseling sessions, or recreational activities. Families often find that the hospice model of care was just as supportive and therapeutic for them as it was for the dying patient. Over many years I have personally been told by countless families of the wonderful support and experiences and “blessings” that hospice provided to them and their dying family member during their time of crisis and the patients passing. It is not uncommon to learn that a hospice nurse, a social work, a case manager, or several from the hospice team will attend the calling hours or funeral when the patient dies. Bonds are formed between the team, the patient and the families when working together in such a highly emotional environment and situation. This is just the nature of the hospice model of care.

Another incredible benefit of the hospice model of care is the on-going support to the families after the passing of the patient. Most hospice models of care provide for follow-up contact with the families on some type of on-going schedule and can provide them, as needed, referral services for grief counseling or other needed support services. Many hospices also provide an annual sponsored memorial service in which they invite families of their patients to come and join in a special service to memorialize all of their patients over the past year. As such, case managers can emphasize to families and the patients that there is continued support beyond the immediate care of the patient.

Hospice care may or may not be the right choice for you and your family. Most people find that at least some aspects of hospice care are greatly beneficial to helping manage the dying process. Before making a decision, discuss your options with your care provider and family members. Case managers play a critical role in hospice models of care today. They are educators, coordinators of care, and advocates for the patient and their families and can be very influential in assisting patients and families in better understanding the hospice model of care so that sound decisions about care in the final stage of life can be better made.

Interested Health Care Professionals who would like more information on our Case Management Continuing Education program, leading to Certification and Fellowship, may access information by clicking here.

Additional Resources

American Academy of Palliative and Hospice Medicine: Click Here

Creating an Effective Hospice Plan of Care: Click here

Is Hospice a Place Where One Goes to Die?: Click here

What is Hospice Care by The American Cancer Society: click here

3 Ways To Tackle Relationship Stress As A Busy Healthcare Professional

Doctor Touching the bridge of his noseBy Lucy Peters

Approximately 93 percent of healthcare workers reported higher than normal stress levels last year, according to Mental Health America. Life for healthcare workers these days is more strenuous than ever. If you are a health professional, the last thing you would want is for relationship stress to pile on to the work stress you already have. So if you ever find yourself facing relationship stress, keep these 3 techniques in mind. If you pair them with effective de-stressing strategies, you will be able to weather the tide of modern healthcare challenges and create a more reliable balance between work and your personal life.

Practice Empathy And Emotional Control

As much as you want your significant other to be understanding of your situation, you must also be understanding of theirs. You might be trying to shore up an understaffed hospital, but they might also be coming home from a bad day at work to an empty home. Empathy is a key component to reducing the stress your significant other makes you feel.  And as your agitation goes down, you will then be able to interface with them in such a way that doesn’t add to their own stress. A 2004 study by Eisenberg et al. shows this by exhibiting the positive relationship between regulating one’s emotions and being better at relating to others. Empathy and emotional control allow you to consider your partner’s experiences without having them pile onto your own feelings and overwhelming you. With this level of clarity, you are able to think of compromises that adequately address both of your concerns.

Get Creative With Conflict Resolutions

It cannot be emphasized enough how important conflict resolution is to eliminate relationship stress. A study by psychologists Julie Petersen and Benjamin Le for Modern Psychological Studies found that productive problem-solving was the only way to work through conflict without creating stress. The three other resolution tactics, namely conflict engagement, compliance, and withdrawal, all lead to some form of stress when employed. The first step in resolving any conflict is taking time to talk about it. However, your profession makes you short on time. So, you are going to have to improvise a way to make every opportunity to fix issues count. Arrange activities that you can pull away from easily should you get suddenly called in for an emergency. Or you can communicate through little gestures sprinkled throughout the day. Your resolution strategies will depend largely on your significant other’s personality. Try to appeal to their interests and talk things out over an activity they love. But remember to tell them about wanting to have a dialogue about your issues beforehand. Also, it helps a lot if you smooth things along with a peace offering, like thoughtful treats and gifts.

Maximize Your Quality Time Together

With rotating shifts and other scheduling hurdles, this task seems downright monumental. Still, with a little clever planning, you can squeeze as much quality time as you can possibly get out of your busy schedule. This usually entails building a separate schedule for spending time together as a couple. If your shift changes usually fall along with certain time slots, create alternate schedules that you can jump to, to eliminate the need to improvise. However, if shift assignments fall all over the clock, try to anticipate when they come and detect patterns in them.

Healthcare professionals face a veritable deluge of obstacles in today’s landscape. Now that our service is needed more than ever, we simply cannot allow stress to get to us, whether it be from work or from home. Hence, it is important to keep sources of stress in check with the most effective means you can muster.

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consultant Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

How Poor Eating Habits Are Affecting Health Employees

Potato free and ketchup food on the wooden table. Georgian cuisine.

By Lucy Peters

It may be one of the great ironies in our modern workforce that the diet of health employees is not as healthy as it should be. Given the demands of many health professionals, especially nurses and other frontliners, having the time to prepare meals, go out to a healthy lunch, or even stop to have a healthy snack can be challenging. Fortunately, a variety of initiatives are being implemented to make sure that healthcare workers stay healthy.

The root of the problem

Being a healthcare worker can be exceptionally demanding, and it can limit one’s ability to enjoy a healthy diet. Although many professionals, such as nurses, work as few as three days a week, the demands of the day can be incredibly taxing and prevent access to or time for a balanced diet: limited time for an actual lunch break, little time to leave the healthcare facility, and shifts that extend into overtime contribute to the problem. When you factor in swing shifts, increased demands because of health emergencies and the demands of taking care of a family, healthcare professions can be incredibly draining and compel employees to seek energy boosts in the form of caffeine, sugar and fast food. Making matters worse is the fact that many cafeterias and hospital dining facilities offer minimal healthy food options, or offer an abundance of fast food. For employees who are pressed for time and who prefer convenience, and therefore choose to eat in the hospital canteen, it’s no surprise that many healthcare workers succumb to poor eating habits.

Strategies to address the issue

Fortunately, a variety of strategies are being implemented to improve the dining options for healthcare workers. One approach involves educating and informing cafeteria patrons about the health benefits and risks of various food options with a color-coded information system. This system can also incorporate text messaging to update patrons on their cafeteria spending habits. Another option being sought is to improve the options being offered in the cafeteria, whether by limiting fast food options or making healthier options more presentable and appealing.

Given the rise of meal delivery services, there are a variety of companies offering healthy meal plans for delivery. These delivery providers, including Blue Apron, Home Chef and Green Chef, provide meal options that can accommodate a variety of dietary preferences, including keto, vegan and organic meals, while providing the same convenience as in-hospital dining. A rising number, including Green Chef, Purple Carrot and Sunbasket, are also working to make the meal delivery industry more sustainable. In many ways, enjoying healthy eating as a healthcare worker is much easier than before.

Health care workers aren’t always the beacons of health that we would assume based on their profession, but that doesn’t need to be the case. With a variety of changes in hospital dining options, improved presentation, and accessibility, healthcare workers will hopefully have much greater access to enjoying quality, nutritious and delicious meals during their hectic schedule. Likewise, with the prominence of various healthy meal plans for delivery, healthcare workers can expand their options and enjoy the convenience of a customized meal plan for delivery. These are just some of the measures available to ensure that healthcare workers stay healthy. If there’s anything we now appreciate, it’s that staying healthy, and keeping healthcare workers healthy, is critically important.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic-Integrative Health Care Specialist Certification Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.

Tips for Healthcare Workers Wishing to Hone their Fitness

woman exercising By Lucy Peters

Compared to other professions, staff in some healthcare professions (for instance, nurses) have a six times higher prevalence of back pain. Tasks such as transferring patients and operating in awkward postures can cause lumbar tissue damage and back pain, but this is only one of many health risks associated with the health profession. Employees working in healthcare can also face high rates of stress and tiredness owing to factors such as long working hours, shift work, and working in times of risk (as is the case during the global health crisis). How can physical activity help quell stress and pain and reduce injury and how can healthcare workers ensure they get the recommended number of minutes of exercise per week?

Exercise Reduces Pain and Stress

As stated in a study by Ann-Kathrin Otto and colleagues, published in the journal BMJ, the efficiency of ergonomic training and exercise when it comes to reducing pain, is well-documented. Previous studies have shown that moderate exercises (including cardiovascular and stretching exercises) reduce musculoskeletal problems, boost muscular strength, and enhance cardiovascular fitness among nursing staff. Research published by the Mayo Clinic shows that employees in medical centers report high levels of stress. Of the many natural modes of quelling this stress, just a few found to be particularly effective include general physical activity, mindfulness-based activities such as yoga, and time spent in nature.

Exercise and the Immunity

A 2020 study by researchers at the University of Bath found that regular, daily exercise benefits one’s immunity, even during tough times. It helps the immune system “find and deal with pathogens, slowing down changes that happen to the immune system with aging.” Equally important is diet. Certain foods strengthen the immune system. These include healthy Omega-3 fats, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and probiotic and fermented foods. When you eat is equally important; the gut has a memory and when it is expecting food, it ramps up the activity of immune cells to attack incoming ‘bad bacteria’. Sticking to regular meal times ensures these cells are able to exercise their function.

Exercise at Work

Over 50% of employees report that they have little time to exercise because of their busy work and home lives. As stated in a recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, one solution is to include more activity at work. In one study, ‘treadmill workstations’ – in which employees were made to work while walking, significantly increased fitness levels and BMI measurements. Another study assigned participants a mandatory activity of middle-to-high intensity workouts for around 2.5 hours a week during work hours. These incentives clearly need to be offered and organized by work organizations, but what can you do if your place of work does not adopt programs that boost employee fitness?

Individual Efforts

The key to making the most of the little time you may have is to do as much as you can. Did you know that running for just 15 minutes a day can reduce the risk of major depression by 26%? Official recommended guidelines stipulate that all individuals should complete at least half an hour of moderate intensity exercise every day. The good news is that these 30 minutes do not need to be continuous. That is, you can complete 10 minutes on your way to work, 10 minutes at lunchtime, and 10 minutes at the end of the day. You can also embrace activity in small but significant ways – including taking the stairs instead of the lift when you can. For extra health benefits, engage in vigorous activity (think cycling, jogging, or interval training) for half an hour at least three times a week. Vigorous exercise is particularly effective because it improves the efficiency of your heart and lungs, and more oxygen is delivered to your muscles.

Even if you are very inactive, becoming slightly more active can help you reap big benefits in terms of fitness and pain reduction. At the very least, aiming for around 30 minutes of moderate activity per day can help strengthen your cardiovascular system. So, too, can finding practical ways to be more active – including walking while working when possible, stretching throughout the day, and taking advantage of work breaks to be more active instead of taking a sedentary pause.

 

 

 

Please also review AIHCP’s Stress Management Consultant Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program in online and independent study and open to qualified professionals.