Thinking about a Lifespark Career?
With such a range of nursing opportunities at Lifespark, we look for ways to help people understand each role whether that’s in hospice, private-pay, home health or others. It’s why we put together a series of ‘Career Close-ups’ about the many nursing roles at Lifespark – it is our hope one of them will spark you.
Our last ‘Career Close-up’ shared the perspective of Bobbi Jean Mertens, a Lifespark Home Health Nurse, be sure to read her story! In our newest blog, we shine a spotlight on Community Home Care. It’s a team made up of natural-born healers helping people live the way they want. The CHC team manages health needs, assists with daily activities, and makes sure our clients are living life on their terms.
Christie Diwi, RN, is a Clinical Care Manger in Community Home Care. We asked her to take us behind-the-scenes for a close-up impression of life as a CHC nurse.
How would you describe the nursing role in this service line?
Christie: We spend a lot of time giving clients their independence back. If they need help with a shower, getting to the grocery store, or having some housecleaning done, we can have caregivers come into their home to provide them with that assistance. If they need help managing their medications, we can send out a nurse to set up their pills. We sometimes have more complicated cases where somebody needs assistance with their G tube, or they have a new wound. If they don’t have family to help, we can be that secondary person for them.
And sometimes it’s more about companionship. I had a client living in a facility who needed someone to become their friend. We did some online shopping, went to doctor’s appointments together, and saw each other once a week. It’s all that person needed to feel like they had a connection to the outside world.
What’s the relationship like between a CHC nurse and their client?
Christie: A big part of your job is building relationships. In Community Home Care, we have the opportunity to stay with a client for our whole shift when needed. So, if a client wants you to go with them to surgery and sit in the waiting room, we can do that. Sometimes you’re the only lifeline for a client and they rely on you. We can visit them in the hospital — even in the TCU.
And we build relationships with the client’s family too. I had a client I used to see every week. Their family member wasn’t always able to be there and really needed somebody to step in. Every chance that family member got, they’d send me an email, call me, or text me. The messages said things like, “You have no idea how much this means to me. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.” Sometimes you don’t realize how much of an impact you make on a client or their family, but it could be everything.
Is spending that amount of time with clients unique to Lifespark?
Christie: Other agencies might not have the capacity to keep sending nurses to see a person, but we do. Ultimately, with Lifespark, it all comes down to: What’s best for the client? If we need to have other nurses step in so another nurse can go visit their really sick client — that’s what we do.
Where I’ve worked previously, it was more about how many people you could see in a day. At Lifespark, we take the time to listen to clients. We view them as a whole person, rather than just treating them for the one thing we’re seeing them for. If they had a knee replacement, are we going there just to look at their knee to make sure it’s not infected? Or are we seeing them as a whole person and noticing that, hey, they aren’t able to do the dishes. We need to bring in a caregiver. They’re not able to walk their dog, make their food, or take a shower. We need more help there. And oh, look at that. They didn’t manage their pills correctly. We need to bring in a nurse to help with that. So, it’s more about the whole person.
How else does the “whole person” approach benefit Lifespark clients?
Christie: At Lifespark, everything’s for the client and helping them age magnificently. “What can we do to make their life better?” That’s one big thing that sets us apart. Lifespark is really big on complete senior health, meaning they have everything at their fingertips to have the right services at the right time to keep their health in check. It’s about giving seniors what they need throughout their life. We want our clients to be able to stay with us until the end. And we want to make sure that we have all the resources they need, in one place, so they don’t ever have to switch companies for a seamless experience.
When you first started at Lifespark, did anything surprise you?
Christie: When I was interviewing with Lifespark, I didn’t expect to meet our CEO Joel Theisen, who is also a nurse, and our President Tom Schmitt, and get to see them all the time. You get to know them, and they know you. They stop you in the hall to talk to you. They ask you questions. You feel like you’re empowered to help, make decisions, and bring forth new ideas. People actually appreciate you and recognize the work you’re doing.
How is the staffing crisis affecting your work at Lifespark?
Christie: It’s hard, but we all come together as a team. We keep the morale high. Everybody’s willing to pitch in. And our nurses are really, really good with calling each other throughout the day and saying, “Hey, my day just lightened up. What can I help you with?” Or, “I’m having a really hard time getting out to see this client. Do you have time to go see them for me?” So even though you’re out there on your own, there’s always somebody you can call, Zoom, or meet up with to get support.
Also, at a lot of other companies, the managers and directors won’t put on scrubs and go out into the field. But we love it. When we had nurses off for two weeks at a time because of COVID, we were out there left and right, seeing as many people as we could. We’ll never ask our nurses to do something that we ourselves wouldn’t do.
How do you feel about your career path at Lifespark?
Christie: Well, it’s been three years. I don’t have plans to go anywhere. I know I can grow within the company, so I don’t worry about having to stay stagnant in a position. I think that’s something that really sets Lifespark apart too. If you want to try something new, you have the ability to transfer to a different area, whereas a different company might not have that department. You’d have to look for a completely different place to work.
What kind of person would be happy as a Community Home Care nurse?
Christie: If you’re looking for a company where you can have autonomy, still feel part of a team, and feel like you truly matter — and if you want to help seniors and see them age in a graceful way — then Lifespark’s the company for you!
Lifespark is hiring for a variety of nursing roles. Check out our open positions, and if you have questions, reach out to our talent team! Visit our career page to learn more…