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 Kaitlin Weidner, Toccoa Falls College
All through his adult years, my grandfather was a heavy smoker. Thankfully he stopped smoking before I was born, but this did not eliminate the consequences of smoking; they would come several years later. A few years ago he developed a type of lung cancer which put him on oxygen. His weight began to rapidly decline, and he acquired a form of diabetes. His health continued to decline and this fall he developed double pneumonia on his lungs right after I left for college. He was taken to the hospital and spent several days there. When he was released, he began to receive hospice care. This was extremely helpful to my grandmother. Constantly taking my grandfather to the hospital for minor things was costly and inefficient, especially since she could not drive him there herself, because she does not have a drivers license. Whenever he fainted, she had to take him to the hospital because he had a hard time getting up and was confused about various details. With hospice care, my grandmother can telephone the office and they will send someone to the house to help my grandfather. Now when he faints from lack of oxygen, someone will come right to the house to assist him.
This health care is essential for my grandparents because it is very impractical to take my grandfather to the hospital for minor problems. If a major health problem were to occur, it is too time-consuming to find someone to take my grandfather to the hospital. He could have permanent damage or more severe problems by that time. This is why the local hospice is so important. However, our local hospice office recently closed, and my grandparents now receive hospice care from an office a minimum of forty-five minutes away. In the winter, the slick roads make this time even longer. This new location is extremely impractical because it takes so long so get to my grandfather if there is a serious problem. Even for something seemingly insignificant such as a problem with his catheter, it can develop into something more serious over this amount of time. Our local branch of hospice care closed because everything is consolidating. Smaller businesses are starting to move to large cities. Our hospice moved their office to a location in a large city because it has more business and therefore brings in more money. They also have the ability to assist more people from this busier locale because there are more people per square mile. In the rural community that I live in, a large number live in the country and on farms; it is much more spread out. Another benefit of this move is the ability to buy new technology because of the higher income. This can assist in aid to patients and quicken any care that needs to be administered. Although this new technology will help, it does not compensate for the time lost while traveling a further distance to treat patients. What good is this new equipment if hospice cannot get to their patient in time to do any good? This new technology has the potential to make a difference and save someone’s life, if they cannot get to that person in time, it will not make any difference.
The goal of hospice should be to help people, not to make money. When it chooses to consolidate, it places a higher importance on money than on people. The rural locations need to stay open in order to help the people in that vicinity. It is not proper to lower the value of the treatment given to those living in these rural areas. My solution to this problem is to emphasize the reason for hospice—people. Sometimes business owners become caught up in the money end of the business and forget the customer side of it. It takes someone to remind them of what is truly important in life. The people living in rural cities deserve the same speedy care as those living in big cities. Although they may be simple farmers or shop owners and not have as much money, they are equal to everyone else. A renewed emphasis on people will give more incentive to keep the rural offices open. If the rural offices remain open, my grandfather can receive the speedy care he needs if he has a medical emergency. Then, while I am away at college, I can know that he is in good hands and I do not need to worry.
Kaitlin attends Toccoa Falls College where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Cross-Cultural Adult Education and a minor in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).