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.

How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?

Essay response by Kassandra Heinrich, Bethel University

Bethel Seminary’s focus on organizational leadership and emphasis on pastoral care will undoubtedly equip me to better serve the seniors receiving in-home care services, and potentially the healthcare industry as a whole. With the skills I will gain at Bethel I am confident I will become well equipped to ensure the health care providers and models are truly caring for the seniors receiving the services. My law degree has given me the ability to look at the machine that is the provision of health care and its assorted laws and regulations to identify strategic changes that can make programs more efficient and services more effective. I believe that understanding and knowledge is only the first step. Combining this training with the leadership and communication skills I am gaining from the Bethel Seminary Masters in Divinity program is where I find the most value and potential for lasting impact to improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services.

A primary focus in Bethel Seminary’s program revolves around the idea of a servant-leader. I believe this focus is not only necessary in ministry but also in the service-oriented industry of healthcare. When working in an organization that seeks to benefit others, providing care for individuals when they are in need, the goals of that organization are of the utmost importance. Ultimately these goals set the tone and course of the business. With the additional pressures coming from the increased cost of healthcare, concerns about over-utilization, and the worries as to whether or not the models of reimbursement are sustainable and truly aligning with the desire to provide quality care, it can be very easy to lose sight of the real purpose behind offering seniors in-home care services – the provide quality care and ensure a quality of life.

By utilizing a servant-based leadership model at the organizational level and taking time to focus on the population we are seeking to serve, I believe my major of study would undoubtedly help me to improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services. This servant-based leadership theory focused on those being served first, putting their needs as the priority and finding ways to ensure those being served become better, healthier and more autonomous themselves. For the elders receiving in-home care, I think this mission could not be more appropriate. These seniors are the ones who helped everyone else to become better, healthier, and find their own autonomy. Now we must do whatever we can to ensure that is maintained for each and every one of them.

Furthermore, the training I am receiving from Bethel in pastoral care will also help me improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care. The courses in this area of focus provide me with the skills and abilities to enter into difficult conversations while still being able to identify and address the specific needs and concerns buried in high-emotions and often, fear. By developing advanced communication and counseling skills, I believe I could help improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services by being able to sit with those seniors, patients and their families, hearing their stories and walking with them through the changes and transitions they are facing, because that is what ultimately matters the most. The simple process of entering into these conversations has the potential to provide significant improvement for these seniors. Often times the difficulty of such a transaction or struggles to communicate and present the needs an individual has can be just as detrimental to a senior’s health as any medical concern they may have previously had. By creating clear, safe channels of communication and giving the seniors a space where they feel heard I believe significant improvements can be made.

In conclusion, I am confident that my degree from Bethel will help me to improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services. Training in a unique form of leadership and an emphasis on caring communication, I believe seniors receiving in-home care and the healthcare industry as a whole could be greatly improved. Although I love the work I am currently doing as a part-time attorney serving seniors in estate planning, guardianships and probates, I look forward to the day when I can begin applying my skills and training more directly to the needs of seniors in the healthcare industry.

About Kassandra

Kassandra is currently pursuing a Masters in Divinity from Bethel University’s Seminary.

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