How a home healthcare agency can build meaningful relationships

Ari Anderson avatar

by Ari Anderson |

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I’ve written about how I’ve looked for my own nurses to provide my SMA care, but I don’t think I’ve been clear that I’m only assisting my home healthcare agency in its search. Over the past 37 years, I’ve used a few home health agencies and spoken with dozens more. Each agency’s duties include finding nurses or aides for its clients.

I’ve decided to help with the search because home-care nurses are so scarce right now. But whether or not I assist, my agency’s search continues.

Now that I’ve explained this part of the company’s job, I want to discuss the qualities that I think a good home healthcare agency needs. How can its staff have a positive impact on the nurses and aides they employ, as well as the families they serve? People who work in agency offices aren’t in patients’ homes every day, so how can they avoid feeling too distant or detached?

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Words of kindness

When a company lets its employees and clients know that it stands with them in times of hardship, the action goes a long way. My agency’s director makes a point to be generous and share words of kindness with me when I’m sad.

The agency I use is small, so the director helps coordinate my nursing schedule. When a new nurse doesn’t work out, the director feels disappointed right alongside me and tries to comfort my mom and me over the phone. She has shared in my grief and even shed tears. I can always feel her sincerity.

Once, when she called to deliver the bad news that another nurse had turned down my case, she started out by saying, “Ari, you have a blessing coming that you don’t even know about.” These kind words were meant to soften a hard blow, as none of us knew how long it’d be before I received such a blessing.

It turned out that I didn’t have to wait very long. Miraculously, a few weeks later, I received a fantastic night nurse who’s working out great so far.

In the past, I’ve had agency employees be too matter-of-fact instead of sympathetic and comforting. It was as if they were reading from a script while talking on the phone. If I or my nurse tried to voice a concern or ask questions, the person would be forced to go off script, and they often didn’t know how to handle that.

It doesn’t matter if an agency is large or small; its staff should be warm and comforting. No matter the size of an office, everyone who works there should take the time to build relationships with their employees and clients. There are times when it’s more appropriate to keep the relationship professional, but in other cases, a personal relationship can sometimes get both parties through tough times.

Acts of kindness

The director of my current agency doesn’t just offer kind words; she performs acts of kindness as well.

If a nurse can’t get to my house because their car broke down, the director will, at times, pay for an Uber driver to pick them up. I’m not suggesting that nurses should consistently depend on their agency for a ride, but the idea that a company will provide or pay for transportation to and from work shouldn’t be off the table. My director has paid for rides because she knows that clients like me can’t afford for nurses or aides to miss their shifts.

My agency’s director has also done many other caring things that I may share in future columns. I can’t explain how grateful I am. The agency and I couldn’t have asked for a more giving director.

She’s helped me soar with confidence while living with SMA. I hope I can repay her and help her soar as well!

Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.

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