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The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act has been reintroduced

U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY-27), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL-9), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH-12) and Ron Kind (D-WI-3) have introduced the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 1825), in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The bill was referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee where it is supported by its Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR-2) who had sponsored the bill in the 114th Congress.

Currently Medicare law requires that a physician certify a patient’s eligibility for coverage of home health services.  Since 1965 when this law was made many older adults now receive care from the mid-level practitioners, such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.  With the law as it currently reads, a person needing home health services must see a physician (different from their regular provider, say an ARNP) to receive home health services.  This is both inefficient and the physician doesn’t know the client.

Permitting nurse practitioners to certify Medicare eligibility enhances Medicare safeguards in the Home Health Benefit as the certification is done by the actual practitioner that is actually caring for the beneficiary.  This in turn allows these mid-level practitioners to improve the transitions of care of patients to community-based care potentially resulting in a decrease in the length-of-stay at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities as it would no longer be necessary to insert a physician who has not cared for the patient into the process.  Also this allows the nurse practitioner to continue providing the care and orders for the home health team instead of requiring an uninvolved physician into the mix.

Last year this legislation had 206 bipartisan support.  This is cost savings and improves patient safety.  (from National Association of Health and Hospice website).




5 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home Senior Accessible

Written by CareForce Staffer, Cynthia Escalante

According to a recent study completed by the American Association of Retired Seniors (AARP) nine out of ten Senior Americans prefer to continue living in their current home for the next five to ten years with only 22% planning to make any real modifications. Preserving independence, safety and comfort are some of the key elements needed to continue living at home. Below are 5 simple ways to make that happen.

  1. Install handrails in the shower. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) says 80% of fall related injuries among seniors over the age of 65 happen in the bathroom. Having something sturdy to grasp while getting in and out of the shower or tub is an easy and affordable way to decrease a major fall risk.
  2. Keep home free of excess clutter. We have all heard the saying a tidy space makes for a tidy mind. Keeping a senior home free of clutter especially on the floor can reduce fall risk, eliminate pest problems and make it easier to direct Caregivers on where things are kept. Other than cleaning supplies and a Saturday afternoon the cost is very minimal.
  3. Remove or nail down all rugs. Although a fall risk is greatest in the bathroom, they can happen anywhere in the home. Removing all rugs or insuring they are secured in place is an easy way to lower the risk of an accidental fall.
  4. Set up a LifeLine. A Lifeline is a personal alarm system easily installed within the home to empower Seniors in case of a fall or other accident ensuring someone will be there quickly with just the press of a button. Rural Snohomish and King Counties are vast, so a senior in Snohomish or Maple Valley has a button to push that brings far away help closer, quicker. Click the link to find out how CareForce can set you up with a Phillips Lifeline today!
  5. Install adequate lighting. By the time we turn 60 we have lost one third of our eyesight. Whether you live in new housing in Redmond or the same home for 50 years in Seattle or Bellevue, having lights installed underneath dark kitchen cabinets, lamps near bed sides and auto adjusting night lights that guide the way from room to room make it easy for Seniors to navigate safely throughout the home.

Often times a home, especially a home lived in for many years, holds memories and an emotional attachment. With these simple steps, we can empower Seniors to continuing living in their homes safely and confidently.




Veronica and Jessica win “Carry Your Team Members On Your Shoulder Award”

Veronica dG., Payroll and Billing Specialist, and Jessica R., RN Care Manager were awarded the coveted “Carry Your Team Member on Your Shoulder Award” for January, 2017.  This operations team award highlights stand out performance in lifting up their team and pushing them forward in terms of service and quality.  Jessica has recently spearheaded the ability of CareForce to provide in home IV infusion services through her volunteering to make this happen.  In Seattle and Bellevue, clients have praised her can do attitude.  In addition she stepped up big time when one of her team members had a family emergency.  Veronica is a master mind at making certain that billing is accurate and that every one dots their i’s and crosses their t’s so that payroll and billing can be done on time every week.  These two really hit service and cooperation out of the park these past couple of months.  Join me in telling them congratulation.

Celebrating Essie’s Retirement after 17 years

I know she said she wasn’t actually retiring yet, Essie Jackson actually did retire from CareForce after 17 years as a caregiver.  When you consider that CareForce is now in it’s 18th year, it seems remarkable that one of the first caregivers to be hired as our agency was a fledgling startup would remain a steadfast employee through the entirety of our agency journey …. so far.  With in  a few years of discovering that she was a good fit for caregiving, Jackson returned to school to obtain her Nursing Assistant Certified credential.  Clearly she is a life long learner.  Live in was an excellent niche for Jackson.  She could arrive at a client home on Monday morning with suitcase in hand, provide personal, companion, and light housekeeping care to the client and sometimes a spouse for 3 or 4 days, then take her next few days off for herself.  This gave her opportunity to do what was a key focus of her life, visit children and grandchildren.  She would beam upon a return trip after she watched her grandkids participate in swimming. Whether the client lived in Bellevue or Seattle, she could always find her way to a client home.  Jackson will always be CareForce royalty.  Reliable, amiable, fastidious, skillful, and up for the challenge, she gave the best of herself to her clients week in and week out.  CareForce misses her already.  Thank you Essie for all your caring and loyalty.  You were there with us from the beginning.  Good luck in your next adventure.

Essie Jackson and Sam Miller celebrate Jackson's retirement
Essie Jackson and Sam Miller celebrate Jackson’s retirement
Lara Davidson and Elizabeth Kongo send Essie Jackson off to her next adventure with a hug and lots of love

CareForce Hosts Chinese Nursing and Social Work Scholars

Kim NIcholas, MSW confers with Chinese Social Worker while Chinese RN's listen in.
Kim NIcholas, MSW confers with Chinese Social Worker while Chinese RN’s listen in.

IMG_2758Three colleagues from the University of Washington Schools of Nursing and Social Work have been a part of a Global Innovation Fund project, supported by the UW Provost’s Office, that aims  to support community-based care for older adults in Chongqing China. Drs. Nancy Hooyman, Basia Belza, and  Barbara Cochrane  are involved in this grant (along with Scott Heinlein, President of the Seattle-Chongqing Sister City Association) and Ms. Lillian Prueher, a PhD student in Anthropology.  Three Chinese professionals — two nurses and a social worker — who are affiliated with a very large (i.e., 3000-bed) senior care facility in Chongqing came to Seattle this past September, 2016.  As the Chongqing community does not have any organized or state sponsored home care or hospice, the UW faculty thought it might be useful for them to have a home health experience. One of our clients was gracious enough to agree to have these three Chinese health care professionals attend a CareForce home visit with one of our registered nurses during the time that one of our home health aides was caring for him.  It  proved to be highly educational and helpful and one of the highlights of their weeklong visits to agencies.  The Chinese health care providers, their interpreter (a PhD student from the School of Nursing), and Nancy Hooyman, professor from the School of Social Work stated that this was an extremely interesting and a new experience for them.  One of the Chinese guests stated that she could not envision how nursing or aide care could be delivered in a home, so the experience helped solidify the concept in her mind. The client and his wife candidly and warmly answered questions and in a moment of pure luck, the therapist from the hospice organization that he is enrolled with arrived to provide some therapy.  In addition, the Chinese Social Worker had an opportunity to explore social work practices here in the United States with our own social worker here at CareForce, something that had not occurred in their other community program visits during the week.  It was a very exciting day here at CareForce and we feel blessed to have participated in some global learning about our country’s home health care system.



Staying Sharp: Cognitive Health in Aging, You’re Invited

CareForce  is thrilled to co-sponsor a lecture event on September 21, 2016 at the Greenwood Senior Center.

3:30 pm—4:00 pm—Event registration, Please RSVP

4:00pm—4:45 pm—Staying Sharp : News from the IOM report on Cognitive Aging , Basia Belza, PhD, RN, FAAN

4:45 pm– 5:30 pm— Mild Cognitive Impairment—Therapies that Improve/Maintain Function, Fleur Godfried, MS, CCCC-SLP

5:30 pm—6:30 pm— Wine, Beer and Light Snack Reception

Basia Belza, PhD, RN, FAAN is The Aljoya Endowed Professor in Aging in the School of Nursing and an investigator with the Health Promotion Research Center at University of Washington. She is the lead of the CDC-funded Coordinating Center for the Healthy Brain Research Network. Her scholarship focuses on improving the health of older adults through dissemination initiatives with a focus on physical activity interventions. In 2015, the Institute of Medicine released their report Cognitive Aging: Progress in Understanding and Opportunities for Action, Dr. Belza will discuss the implications of both the findings and recommendations in this landmark report for health care professionals and their practices.

Fleur Godfried, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist at Harborview who works in the Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program (CORP). With 15 years of experience at HMC, Ms. Godfried specializes in evaluating and treating patients with neurological diagnoses, most commonly stroke, TBI, and SCI. In the last few years, however, the UW Memory, Brain & Wellness Clinic at Harborview has been sending referrals for therapy for those diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). Ms. Godfried will discuss the referral process/criteria and what types of therapy can improve or maintain functioning for those with MCI.

All health care professionals who work with older adults will benefit from this informative event.  And it is an excellent opportunity to network with other health care professionals.

CareForce Receives 2016 Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award

CareForce  today announced that it has received the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award from Home Care Pulse. The Employer of Choice Award is granted only to the top ranking home care providers, based on employee satisfaction scores gathered by Home Care Pulse. CareForce is now ranked among a select few home care providers across the country who have proven their ability to provide outstanding support to their employees.

“We want to congratulate CareForce on receiving the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice Award,” says Aaron Marcum, CEO and founder of Home Care Pulse. “Since this award is based on employee feedback, it demonstrates their dedication to providing the highest quality of care with a focus on employee satisfaction. We are pleased to recognize CareForce’s dedication to quality, professionalism and expertise in home care.”

Best of Home Care Employer of Choice award-winning providers have contracted with Home Care Pulse to gather feedback from their employees by conducting live phone interviews with their employees each month. Because Home Care Pulse is an independent third-party company, it is able to collect honest and unbiased feedback. These award-winning providers have received the highest satisfaction scores from their employees in areas such as overall job satisfaction, comfort with supervisor, and support from supervisor.

” We are proud of our track record of excellence in addition to our commitment to learning from this honest, 3rd party feedback from our caregivers,” states Sam Miller, RN, MN, BC , CEO of CareForce.  CareForce provides registered nurse and Master of Social Work support and supervision 24 hours every day to our employees. We work diligently to create a team atmosphere.  Working as a home health or home care aide can seem like a lonely job, yet our clinicians and other office personnel create a “virtual” supportive atmosphere so that they don’t feel alone.   In addition we provide them with free continuing education both on line and in person.

“Our goal at Home Care Pulse is to empower home care businesses to deliver the best home care possible,” says Aaron Marcum. “We are happy to recognize CareForce as a Best of Home Care Wmployer of Choice and to celebrate their accomplishments as a trusted home care provider.”

“Thanks, you saved my life!”

As the client paid her Phillips Lifeline bill, she wrote a short note.  “Thanks you saved my life. I had a stroke.”  Of course, CareForce didn’t save her life, but her personal alarm system from Phillips did.  I had the opportunity to call this 80 something year old woman to ask her about her experience.  And I quote, “I knew something wasn’t right, so I pressed the button.  Immediately the person on the other end of the line recognized my speech was slurred.  I had no idea.  She directed me to stay seated and that she would send emergency personnel right away.  I spent 21 days at rehab and now I am home, walking, talking and getting along.”  She advocates to all of her friends to get a Lifeline.  Recovery from many strokes is highly dependent on how quickly one is treated.

The American Stroke Association reminds us that the acronym F.A.S.T. can save you from permanent disability.  If you , or a loved one, has Facial drooping, Arm weakness, or Slurred Speech, it is Time to call 911.  And, in the meantime, it certainly would be an ounce of prevention to consider a LifeLine.  Call CareForce today for information.

Celebrating CareForce Founder in His Retirement and Birthday

On January 25, 2016, friends, colleagues and employees gathered to wish Diedrich Meinken well in his retirement and to congratulate him on his 70th birthday. In 1999 it was Diedrich who started El Presidente Diedrich and the Band Diaka CareForce as a company that would provide excellence in home care.  His vision as well as his development of service delivery systems within the organization are the foundation from which we are able to provide the wonderful care that CareForce delivers today.  As a Master of Social Work, he developed the company mission to “improve the quality of care for vulnerable people“.  With this mission in mind, CareForce has been a leader in promoting higher standards in home care as well as bringing wonderful national speakers to the Puget Sound area regarding dementia care and transitions in care (Teepa Snow and Eric Coleman).  Never afraid to speak his truth, Diedrich was instrumental in lobbying in Olympia to gain easier access for home care agencies to the data at DSHS regarding caregivers history with elder abuse, a helpful tool in the hiring process.  Diedrich isn’t going too far, he will remain as Chairman of the Board and as he is married to the new CEO (Susan “Sam” Miller, RN, MN) he will keep abreast of all things CareForce and provide valuable consultation.  Congratulations Diedrich on building a wonderful company.  Your legacy as a home care game changer is secure.

Happy Holidays to Each and Everyone of You

The oncoming New Year and plethora of religious and cultural holidays always brings with it thankfulness and reflection.  CareForce is honored to be able to provide services to many vulnerable adults in the Puget Sound area.  Our nursing and MSW staff have embraced the meaning of excellence in home care.  I watch them everyday, with care, provide care to potential clients, new clients, long term clients, community health care partners, and caregivers with great professionalism and respect.  CareForce is humbled by the referral professionals who recommend our care to potential clients.  We work diligently to earn and retain your trust that we will manage the home health and home care for those who come into our client fold.  CareForce also is grateful that we are able to serve clients that continue to give us the feedback that 98% of them would return for service or recommend us to their family and friends.  This, in and of itself, is an example of the excellence that our entire staff provides day in/ day out.  Our operations staff somehow manages the impossible: coordinate caregivers,  orientation, hiring great caregivers and keeping them working in schedules that are pleasing.  All of this with our service guarantee that CareForce will be there if we say we will be.

Yet, I have saved the best for last.  Our caregiving and nursing staff are the best, without a doubt.  Providing home care in a person’s own home is perhaps one  the most challenging places.  They are on the clients’ turf.  It is the client’s traditions and social rules that apply.  These caregivers must daily bring their professional scopes of practice and finesse safety with client preferences.  I am in awe of them everyday.  May each and everyone of you have safe holidays, loving family with whom to celebrate, and most of all much joy.  Thanks for another terrific year at CareForce.