“Whatever I can do to help my clients live fuller, more independent lives, that’s my goal,” said Kelly Pritchard, RN, Lifespark Life Manager. If a client needs some extra in-home support, for example, Kelly can set up a complementary consult with Community Home Care; if a client has limited means, she can help them apply for county financial support or medical assistance. “It’s about meeting members where they are and giving them the tools, resources, and encouragement to live well,” she said.
Identifying and bridging the gaps
Kelly met Marie, age 91, at a precarious point in this senior’s life. After a fall in the grocery store had landed her in the hospital, she was now back home, without any services, living alone since her husband’s death 17 years ago. Kelly also learned that Marie doesn’t drive, and her only living relatives are two nieces, both in their 70s, who live in Milwaukee.
The most immediate issue was Marie’s physical health. “She takes a blood thinner for AFib, but without access to transportation, she hadn’t had her INRs checked in a long time,” Kelly said. The first thing she did was put in an order for in-home INR checks with an outside provider who was covered by Marie’s insurance.
However, given Marie’s ongoing medical needs and her difficulty getting to the clinic, Kelly felt strongly that she would benefit from Lifespark COMPLETETM. In addition to Kelly as her Life Manager and single point of contact, Marie could get home-based primary care with a Lifespark Nurse Practitioner and a Lifespark nurse could do her in-home INR checks, at no additional cost under her health plan. “Marie thought that was just great,” she said.
Humanizing health care
At their first meeting, Katelin Super, NP, reviewed Marie’s medications and identified the cause of her fall in the grocery store: too high a dose of blood pressure medication. Katelin decreased it and almost immediately, Marie felt less dizzy and light-headed, without negatively affecting her blood pressure.
Not only was she feeling better physically, but she was also happier. “Marie told me that when the outside lab company was doing her INRs, it was very impersonal: the nurse would come in, test her blood, barely say a word, and leave five minutes later,” Kelly said. “Marie absolutely adores Leah [Castle, RN], who checks her INRs and then spends time getting to know her.”
Kelly knew that because Marie was on a very limited budget, she relied on a friend to take her to the grocery store. To give her more independence, Kelly suggested meal delivery through Meals on Wheels. Together they contacted the organization and Marie signed up for their services. “Even though she had the option of receiving free meals, she really wanted to pay the suggested donation amount,” Kelly said. Since then, Marie has been getting meals delivered daily and says she enjoys chatting with the volunteers who come to her door.
Last fall, Meals on Wheels came through in another big way when they connected UCare volunteers to individuals who use their services. A group of 10 volunteers showed up at Marie’s house and raked up over 90 bags of leaves. “She was so thankful and over-the-moon happy,” Kelly said. As a UCare member, Marie was especially touched by this act of generosity. It was also a gift to Marie’s nieces who had always taken care of the yardwork by themselves. “This time, they were able to just enjoy time with their aunt,” Kelly said.
Making wishes come true
When Kelly learned that Marie hadn’t had her hair cut since the beginning of the pandemic, she suggested they make an appointment at her salon. Unfortunately, her stylist wasn’t vaccinated, so they tabled the plan.
Then Kelly came up with another idea. She submitted a Lifespark WishTM request for an in-home haircut with an in-home hair salon. The Wish was granted, and after her appointment, Marie was so thrilled with the cut and style, she put on lipstick and posed for a photo.
“Whenever I see Marie, she can’t say enough about what Lifespark has done for her,” Kelly said. “She told me recently that everyone at Lifespark comes in as a stranger and leaves as a friend.”
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