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Career Close-up: A Home Health Nurse

  • Aug 16, 2022
  • Carrie Maloney
  • 6-min Read

Maybe You’re Considering a Lifespark Career

Our employees hear the question a lot: “What’s it like to work at Lifespark?” So, we’re responding to that question by asking someone who actually works at Lifespark! Bobbie Jean Mertens is an RN Case Manager in Lifespark Home Health. And keep reading our blogs, we are putting together a series of ‘Career Close-ups’ about the many nursing roles at Lifespark – it is our hope one of them will spark you.

The Lifespark Home Health team generally cares for seniors after an illness or injury for a set time frame, limited by doctor’s orders. As in every other Lifespark service line, our home health nurses take a whole-person approach to helping clients remain more independent, stay out of the hospital, and lower their long-term costs. They also connect clients to any additional services they’ll need once Medicare-covered skilled services end like Community Home Care (private-pay nursing and caregiving), hospice, senior living, and life management, among others. Again, always with an eye on preventing another hospital stay and keeping the spark in their lives.

What, specifically, do home health nurses do? And why do they do it? Bobbie Jean gave us her behind-the-scenes perspective.

How would you describe the Lifespark Home Health service line?

Bobbie Jean: We’re a team of integrated home health aides, nurses, social workers, physical, occupational and/or speech therapists, and other specialists who address specialized, short-term medical needs. We help stabilize someone’s condition, or in some cases, prevent or slow down further decline.

We improve their quality of life. We continue the education that they were provided in the hospital for example. And we monitor any changes that have been made in their care—like new medications—making sure clients meet appropriate outcomes.

Home health is a pretty important part of the Lifespark mission. Our job is to help clients get better and become as independent as possible. We do everything we can to avoid a repeat hospitalization.

What do you like about this specialized approach to client services?

Bobbie Jean: We have the chance to do what most doctors can’t. We get to go into the client’s home. We figure out what they’re lacking and how we can fill those gaps. We look for safety hazards, acquire any equipment they need (even x-ray or ultrasound), monitor their labs, communicate with their physician, and identify friends and neighbors we can plug into for support — to change things that need to change.

What’s your typical day like? Or your typical week?

Bobbie Jean: In this business, you can’t plan your week! We communicate every day with all the other Lifespark services involved with our clients, so we’re all on the same page. Based on what we hear, things constantly change. We develop a plan of care, identify goals, identify meds, give medication education, identify the home health aides and other team members based on the client’s individual goals, and communicate with all the services and physicians involved.

How does Lifespark’s team approach work in home health?

Bobbie Jean: I love the team approach. I really feel like our goal is to have a team with enough resources to keep people out of the hospital and improve their quality of life. Also, by working as a team with so many different providers, we learn a lot more. We get a very broad range of information and techniques. It gives us a well-rounded experience.

The nurses I work with are amazing. We all lean on each other. And we hold each other up on hard days. If a need comes up—maybe I need a wheelchair or a back brace—there’s someone I can go to. Or they come to me and tell me about a client’s new pressure ulcer. Or they notice something about a person’s meds. It takes a community.

Does Lifespark support their nurses differently from other places you’ve worked?

Bobbie Jean: I remember getting the call from the talent scout. When they told me about Lifespark’s case load, salary, and equipment — it sounded almost too good to be true. It was night and day from anywhere I’d experienced.

And we have really great leaders here. They make us feel heard. Our happiness matters. Obviously, they can’t fix everything, but they do a good job of validating our concerns. No matter what level they’re at, they treat us like we’re co-workers. We have no fear at all about going to the executive directive or any other leaders. They’re always supportive.

Join our growing team of nurses – we’re hiring!

Does Lifespark serve clients differently from other places you’ve worked?

Bobbie Jean: One of the biggest differences about Lifespark is that they keep productivity standards down. That means more time spent with our clients in their homes. We’re not 30-minute nurses. We can stay to help with meds set-ups, call doctors, and have care conferences. We have time to dig in and build relationships with clients, so when they identify things that are going wrong, they feel comfortable reaching out to us. And that means we can be proactive instead of reactive. I sat and colored with a couple of ladies last week, letting them know that I’m a human who’s there for them. Having the chance to bring clients this quality service is really a gift to me as a clinician. It’s part of what keeps me kicking!

What else do you love about being a home health nurse?

Bobbie Jean: Autonomy is one of my favorite parts of this job. I get to use my own judgment without having someone hanging over my shoulder, so I get to grow in my position and build my skill set. I’m not micromanaged. I set my standards, choose how much I want to grow, and decide what I want to get out of this job.

My job is my passion. I love being able to see the impact I make on people’s lives and the difference I make for their families.

What might you say to someone who was considering a nursing career at Lifespark?

Bobbie Jean: Our culture is all about caring and compassion. Every team member I work with has the same passion for what they do.

And at Lifespark, there’s always a role for you. Lots of opportunities. If where you start doesn’t end up being a good fit, there’s always another seat to fill. They want you in the right position. It’s a great company to work for.

Are you or another amazing nurse in your life considering a Lifespark career? WE’RE HIRING!

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