How Nurses Helped Me Care For My Aging Parents
I have the privilege of leading a large percentage of the more than 400 nurses employed by Blue Cross NC in my role as Vice President of Care Management. To recognize the work of these incredible professionals across our company and beyond during National Nurses Week, I wanted to share a personal story of how they have helped my family.
The nurses who work at our company as case managers wear a lot of hats. However, one of the most important is how they’re able to use their clinical knowledge to help our members understand and manage their chronic health conditions.
I get to see the impact of their work every day, but I experienced it personally for the first time a few years ago. My parents have been loyal customers of the Blue Cross NC Medicare Advantage (MA) plans over many years. For much of that time, they were active and independent and required no support from our care management team. As they aged – as with so many of our senior members – their needs changed, and they looked to their health plan for support.
My dad’s quality of life
My dad lived a full and active life despite having rheumatic heart disease diagnosed in childhood. After two successful heart valve surgeries, he eventually developed congestive heart failure (CHF). The MA care management team offers a program to support members with CHF. Part of that program includes providing a scale for the member to use in their home that delivers information daily to the case manager at Blue Cross NC. Dad became eligible and enrolled in this program. He was a very compliant patient and relied on daily weight monitoring, his case manager and his care team to manage his condition.
My dad passed away in December of 2013. As painful as this loss was and continues to be, I take comfort in knowing he ultimately had a better quality of life because of the education, monitoring, and support available to him. He had only one emergency room visit for pneumonia and no visits due only to his heart failure. I’m grateful for the confidence this program gave my parents to manage a complex disease.
My mom’s on-going journey
Within less than two years of my father’s death, it became clear that my mother was developing memory loss. It has been a long and difficult journey to determine how to allow her the independence she so craves and the support necessary to keep her safe and healthy.
Along that journey, I was able to reach out to a case manager at Blue Cross NC to inquire about resources. She was a wonderful listener – very empathetic, as most nurses are – and encouraged me to explore resources available at my mother’s church. One call to the church ended with me finding a wonderful sitter who had deep experience providing support to individuals with memory loss. She was a miracle!
As Mom’s memory loss progressed, the case manager was there once again to support my research of assisted living facilities. Having a resource available along this journey who not only understands the health plan benefits available to us but also has patient care experience as a nurse has been invaluable.
I don’t know what the rest of the journey for my mom will look like, but I am comforted to know we have the support of the nurses on the care management team available to us as we navigate her health care needs. And for that, I am grateful.