Prevention & Wellness
Janet Morse was a facing a lengthy hospital stay.
Diagnosed with a life-threatening infection, she had already spent three months in Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital, and several weeks at the Cleveland Clinic in the U.S.
After stabilizing, she was prescribed an intensive antibiotic treatment that needed to be administered intravenously twice daily – a process that would take four hours in the morning and four hours in the evening.
It meant she would have to spend at least another three months in hospital for the course of her antibiotic therapy – a prospect she was dreading.
Thanks to Caring Hands Cayman, however, Janet was able to remain on-island – and recover in her own home. Caring Hands provides in-home nursing services, allowing individuals with health issues to be cared for in the comfort and convenience of their own home.
“Caring Hands was amazing,” says Janet. “Without them, I don’t know what I would have done. I didn’t want to go back to the hospital. It was life-changing for me.”
Caring Hands is spearheaded by Jackie Hickey, a registered nurse who serves as care manager. The agency employs three registered nurses and 15 full and part-time caregivers locally and abroad, with a Caymanian physician serving as an advisor.
It provides such medical services as medication management, wound care and blood work, and designs healthcare management plans for individuals with chronic conditions. Short-term, long-term and live-in assistance is available.
Caring Hands conducts a full assessment for each client, involving the patient’s medical team and loved ones, and assesses the home environment. Care plans are drawn up using “best practices” to deliver high-quality healthcare that promotes best outcomes.
Caregivers check in with patients regularly to ensure the plan is working and is being followed through.
These health checks, such as monitoring vital signs, can prevent individuals from being re-hospitalized. Home assessments ensure safety measures can be put in place to prevent injuries, including falls.
Caring Hands liaises with community resources, such as Meals on Wheels, Cayman HospiceCare, pharmacies and medical supply companies, to streamline and enhance healthcare.
Another role is communicating with the client’s doctor and medical team, serving as an intermediary for the patient to ensure the best care possible. They also deal with insurance, easing the pressure on families and loved ones.
“Navigating the healthcare system can be a big challenge for families,” says Jackie. “Sometimes they are completely overwhelmed. We become an advocate for the patient and family.”
To complement the nursing care, Caring Hands provides home support services. That includes light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, errands, babysitting and after-school tutoring.
Jackie says there is a growing demand for home care services, particularly among the aging population.
“I would say that is about 80 percent of our clients,” she says. “One of the biggest fears of the elderly is loss of independence and control. We give that back by allowing them to convalesce in their own home and with the necessary care and support.”
Along with the elderly, the agency can provide assistance to new moms as well as respite to those who are caregivers themselves. They can can escort clients to medical appointments, or perform follow-up nursing care at home to save a trip to the doctor’s office.
Jackie says home care is a good alternative for many who would otherwise have to stay in hospital for long periods of time, or have to be placed in a care home.
“Most people will tell you that they would rather be in their own home,” she says. “Research supports that it does help healing physically, as well as emotionally, spiritually and socially.”
Janet says being able to have her treatment administered at home made a world of difference to her recovery – as well as her spirits.
“It was really so uplifting,” she says. “I recovered much quicker at home rather than in a hospital bed. Jackie was amazing and I had wonderful nurses. They were a lifesaver for me.”
Resources for In-home Care
Continuing medical care at home often requires the assistance of home healthcare services offered by private clinics, private agencies, hospitals and governmental departments; the hire or purchase of medical equipment; and often some form of home care or domestic support.
There are various options available, some outlined below, but it is always best to check with your doctor for options applicable to you.
The ability of private doctors to visit patients at home varies by the clinic and, if patients desire these services, they should check with their practitioners to see whether this is possible.
The General Practice Clinic of the Health Services Authority (HSA) offers at-home public health nurse check-ins and physician visits to patients in medical need such as the elderly, physically disabled and those unable to access transport. In some cases, HSA medical staff can assist with helping to arrange for home medical care through private agencies or individuals.
Individuals also have access to private agencies which source or provide home nursing care, such as Caring Hands Cayman. Companies like this, or the nurses they source, can provide pain management and medication administration and some offer medical transport accompaniment as well as other services.
For patients with certain medical conditions or illnesses, returning home to continue their healthcare is not always simply a matter of a change of location. They may still be in need of equipment that they would traditionally find in a hospital or clinic setting. Hospital beds, oxygen supplies, wheelchairs and other home convalescence aids can all make staying at home a possibility.
There are companies and organizations on-island which bridge this gap between hospital and at-home care, and provide rental or sale of medical equipment.
Pharmacies such as Cayman Pharmacy Group, Valu-med Pharmacy, Cayman Medical Supplies and Health Care Pharmacy sell or rent home medical aids, and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society also has a hospital equipment rental program for cancer patients receiving home care.
Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation
Those recovering from surgery or suffering from certain health conditions and looking to improve mobility who are unable to visit hospitals or medical clinics, can receive physiotherapy and rehabilitation in their own homes.
The HSA’s physiotherapy department offers home therapy and occupational therapy to those who qualify, and companies such as Cayman Physiotherapy, Cayman Rehab Services and A Step Ahead Physiotherapy also offer at-home physiotherapy visits to those unable to get to their clinics.
While not strictly home healthcare, some organizations offer day breaks for those receiving home care.
The Pines Retirement Home has services which help seniors with the transition from hospital to home, or allow for short day-residential care. Its Day Care Programme, for those who live at home under their own or family care, supplies daytime support and care alongside social interaction at The Pines. Its Respite Care Programme allows short-term stays for individuals up to two weeks, allowing caregivers a break, or allowing for an easier return to independent living for those recently discharged from hospital.
HospiceCare holds a lunch club every other month for its patients and their family members, allowing social interaction with other HospiceCare patients, in a setting outside of their home.
Home Care Visits
Although home healthcare refers to care of a medical designation, home care refers to help with childcare, companionship and light household duties. Home healthcare covered by insurance is not intended to be a domestic service of this type.
Some home healthcare agencies also offer aspects of home care such as light domestic duties and running errands, but there are also agencies dedicated to supplying non-medical support, such as janitorial and childcare agencies and individuals, which could alleviate domestic pressures for patients and carers.
For those living with cancer, not-for-profit organization HospiceCare supports care in the home carried out by the family or the patient’s caregiver. Its Clinical Volunteer Program provides services of companionship, transportation and errands to those who are patients of HospiceCare, and other benefits include counseling services, music therapy, therapeutic massage and acupuncture, among many others offered by certified volunteers.
For insurance purposes, patients and their families should check with their insurance provider as to what extent of home healthcare and what categories of medical professionals are covered on their plans.
Basic Standard Health Insurance Contract (SHIC) plans do not cover home healthcare. However, comprehensive plans tend to be more far-reaching, covering a certain number of home visits per annum based on medical necessity and prescription by the attending MD.
Some plans also include visits by registered nurses for the purposes of medical procedures such as dressing changes and IV administration, or there may be a separate benefit for nursing visits.
It is always best to contact your insurance provider for information in order to check if a service is covered, how to qualify for such cover, and all other relevant details.
Home Care Benefits
- Nursing care delivered in the comfort and privacy of the patient’s home
- Personal care tailored to the individual’s needs
- Promotes healing and emotional well-being, as research shows patients recover faster in the comfort of their home
- Promotes social well-being as it is easier for friends and family to visit
- Reduces risk of re-hospitalization
- Allows greater freedom and independence
- Provides peace-of-mind to family members
- A cost-effective option in the healthcare system