About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?

Essay response by Keenan Ball, University of Central Florida

In-home geriatric care is one of the scarcest services in Washington County, Georgia. Washington County is a small country town in the middle of Georgia. With a population of about thirty thousand, the people who live here have roots that date back to the county’s founding. Often times the elderly don’t want to let go of their roots, but are often forced by their children and relatives to leave their home due to health problems. A change is needed. I hate to see the elderly forced to leave their origins because of the lack of access to simple in home healthcare. I thought about a system that can help the elderly and the local nurses/medical assistants.

Often if you live in Washington County with a medical assisting certificate or a degree in nursing, you either drive miles away to work or you are lucky enough to be hired at the hospital or local doctor offices. Jobs at the local doctor offices in the county are scarce; it’s only about five nurses per office, with only about six doctor offices in the county. That leaves about only thirty positions open for nurses. A large number of the women in the county work in the medical assisting or the nursing field, but either have to drive out of county to get work or are unemployed. The local hospital and the local doctor offices can team up, and have a system where they hire nurses part-time. These nurses would be strictly mobile, and could help the elderly with their daily needs. In a county where everybody knows everybody, it would make the elderly population more comfortable to deal with someone they possibly know.

This is something that many of the elderly would need. For example, my grandfather, a retired farmer, is currently going through late-stage Alzheimer’s. He is often sent to the nearest city of Augusta, Georgia which is about an hour away from Washington County or Macon, Georgia which is about an hour and a half away. He is ninety-one years old, he hates the city, and his dementia doesn’t help the situation. He is often scared when the ambulance has to pick him up, and rush him to city. There have even been times when he was in such bad shape that he had to be flown to the hospital by a helicopter. There were many nurses who came from an agency out of the county who helped my grandfather, but he was never comfortable with them. Then a local agency paired him with one of the only person on staff who lived in Washington County, Nurse Johnson. When we first met Nurse Johnson, she had no connection to my family what so ever. Through my grandfather’s questions, we learned a connection to her great grandfather. It made him feel much more comfortable around her.

From this I gathered that by the local hospital and doctor offices teaming up, compiling a list of the elderly in need of home-health care, they could have a match-making service who would be the best fit for helping out the patient, which could then be approved by the patient or the patient’s family. Not only will this make the patient more comfortable with the nurse they are receiving care from, this would create plenty of jobs in the county. By assigning about six patients to each nurse, this could become a full time job. This could keep the elderly and their family happy, and the people like my grandfather can stay in the comfort of his own home.

About Keenan

Keenan is currently a Biomedical Science major at the University of Central Florida.

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