NAHC Leadership Closes the March on Washington with a General Session on Advocacy and Home Health Management
April 3, 2014 10:38 AM
This year’s March on Washington came to a successful close with a lunch General Session discussion between NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris, NAHC Board Chairperson Andrea Devoti and Home Health Nurses’ Association Chairperson Elaine Stephens. The discussion ranged from the importance of advocacy for the home care and hospice community to how to motivate home care and hospice workers during difficult times.
NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris started the session by sharing the latest on the ongoing SGR negotiations in Congress, stating that, “home care and hospice are not included in the SGR fix, which is good because it means that we were able to fight off any additional cuts or copays.” The positive development was caveated by the fact that the SGR bill also did not include a NAHC-drafted amendment that would provide rebasing relief, though NAHC would keep fighting on that front as well.
Ms. Devoti focused her opening remarks on cuts of a different kind – home care and hospice agencies needing to cut staff, salaries, or benefits to stay in business. “Don’t just cut to stay in business,” Ms. Devoti said. “Look at your value-added services very closely and very strategically. You can find savings by renegotiating your vendor contracts on a regular basis, by better utilizing your information technology. Moves like those won’t affect your staff.”
Ms. Stephens agreed that information technology is important, but home care and hospice agencies should take a different approach. “Technology isn’t just about buying more and updating it all the time. It’s about utilizing what you have in smart ways. Think about the technology you currently have and how you can use it more efficiently to get more out of it.”
While being able to be more cost-effective and resource-smart are critical to success, Ms. Devoti, Ms. Stephens and Mr. Halamandaris all agreed that an agency’s reputation is perhaps the most important component to success. “Your reputation is crucial. How you treat people – both your patients and your staff - is critical,” said Mr. Halamandaris. “We all have to live the culture of caring.”
Said Elaine Stephens, “some people may say that I over-communicate, but you should find ways to communicate with your staff often, even if it is just a quick text message. Find every way you can to communicate with people, and be present when they are in the office. Being available and communicative shows your staff that you care about them.”
The realities of the current home care and hospice landscape, said Andrea Devoti, is that, “cash is king, and the only thing that comes in a close second is data. I am now being asked for data within my own organization to justify decisions and ensuring proper care. Data is becoming more and more important and will continue to do so.”
Within Washington - like home care and hospice agencies - money is one of the most important factors, said Val J. Halamandaris. “Washington runs on three things, money, respect and noise. We are very good at making noise. No organization is as respected as we are – as we are representing the angels of home care and hospice – where we lag behind other organizations is in raising and contributing money. If we all did more on that front, and we would be unstoppable.”
The session concluded with sound advice from Andrea Devoti, “don’t forget to have some fun. Have fun with your staff. Take some time to recharge your batteries and give your staff that opportunity, too. This is a stressful time for all of us. Remember why you got in this business, why you love what you do and remember to have fun.”