Tag Archives: Nurse Navigator

The Value of a Health Navigator

Some time ago, we wrote a post about the value of having a nurse navigator when trying to decide about in home care here: (The Value of a Healthcare Navigator), and now we are revisiting this issue with a contribution from our friends at RegisteredNursing.org.

Most people’s first thoughts of a new year center around new beginnings and possible resolutions to be made. While these are important considerations to start the year out right, the most important consideration for a new year can revolve around your health and healthcare coverage. If you are like most people, you were barraged with notices about getting health care coverage. Navigating the landscape of “Part This” and “Part That” is confusing and, when added to potential health issues or surgeries, is down-right overwhelming. Enter the Health Navigator (queue the harps and harmonic singing).

The role of the health navigator has progressively expanded over the past decade as programs such as Medicare have become extremely complicated. More than just a person to help assist you with which options to choose for medical coverage, a qualified and skilled health navigator will also assist people with local resources they might qualify for, such as county or state programs. For example, low-income families in Idaho may qualify for additional support and assistance for medical issues through a medically indigent program; a savvy health navigator will know which services are available in certain areas and how to access them for the patient or family.

Health navigators play a different role than the nurse navigators you may have experienced in various healthcare settings. Nurse navigators assist patients or populations through either a healthcare system or a specialized department. One example of this role is when a patient is scheduled for surgery or perhaps is diagnosed with cancer, a nurse navigator is assigned to provide advice and guidance to patients through each step of the journey for these devastating experiences.

Some community health systems, such as Terry Reilly, employ health navigators to reach out to patients in their service area to offer support in enrolling patients and families into the myriad of choices for healthcare. As many programs are time-bound and have enrollment windows, having a process to proactively reach out to help people navigate the programs is very strategic. By offering services directly, not only are patients more likely to choose the health system that assisted them, the organization is more likely to receive better payment rates if patients are correctly enrolled. Either way, offering help to patients and families to traverse the timelines, coverage options, and associated costs with each plan is a valuable service to offer.

Healthcare and medical coverage can be confusing, especially if there are already numerous healthcare members coming into a home to provide services. However, if you find yourself needing additional resources or information related to healthcare coverage choices, ask your doctor to recommend a reliable health navigator for clarification and assistance. You don’t have to face these choices alone.

About the Author
Catherine Burger, BSN, MSOL, RN is a board-certified nurse executive and contributing writer for www.registerednursing.org.

About Well Beyond Care
Well Beyond Care is the only company that teaches families and individuals how to find and manage affordable non-medical in-home care, while solving the chronic problems of caregiver truancy and turnover through the web application, WellBeyondCare.com. The Company’s platform combines the power of the internet with the personal touch of nurses to offer families a pathway to transitional care, allowing our elderly parents to safely age-in-place. Their solution lowers stress in hiring a caregiver and saves families tens of thousands of dollars per year in care costs.

In-Home Care: The Practical Choice

Many American adults today are facing the reality of caring or having to care for their aging parents who are no longer capable of living an independent life. Many are worried about what they can do to ensure that their parents may receive the kind of care they need at this point of their life, but few know what to do about getting care. So, if you are in this situation, it may be comforting to know that you are not the only one facing this challenge. According to recent statistics, “the oldest-old population (those age 85 and over) grew from just over 100,000 in 1900 to 5.5 million in 2010” (AgingStats.gov). There are millions of others like you thinking about how to get the best care for their aging parents and wondering how to do so at an affordable cost.

Without a doubt, the costs of healthcare these days can be crippling. And sadly, the hope of having these costs adjust favorably may be bleak. In spite of health care reforms, there is no guarantee as to whether or not they will work out well for American citizens or not – and this leaves you with the only option of working on your parents’ healthcare requirements using your own resources.

The Difficulties of Healthcare for Elderly Parents

The difficulties that your parents are experiencing as they feel the pangs of aging may be as overwhelming to you as them. The added stress you are feeling about having to provide them the best help they can get makes the situation even worse. Their health issues, along with the inconveniences of possible incontinence and inability to perform their daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, and cooking, call for your immediate attention.  Adding this urgent need to your own scheduling requirements to look after them as they progressively need more care, adds significant angst to you and your family.  What options do you have?

The Common Response

The most common response in this kind of situation would either to admit your parents to a full-time nursing home, or an assisted care facility if you can afford it. Though these options may be plausible, they may not be the most practical choice if you are considering your long term financial future.

To begin with, long-term outlay costs may be burdensome for you and your family; you may have other fiscal obligations, such as having to provide for your spouse and children, and your own daily living expenses. On the other hand, nursing homes and assisted care facilities may also be equally as expensive, with the costs estimated at up to $80,000 annually (CNN Money, 2013).

In-Home Care Options

Hiring your own In-home caregiver, on the other hand, may be a more practical choice. Unlike the other more common options, having this kind of care for your aging parents may mean not having to spend as much money while getting the same or better assistance they require and deserve.

These non-medical, private pay or personal care professionals, or caregivers, can do anything from preparation of meals, to bathing and grooming, to even administering intravenous medications. Depending on their specific qualifications, they may also offer other services as that your parents may need now or in the future.  The cost savings of hiring an individual caregiver can be substantial, sometimes less than half the expected cost of a nursing home facility.  The advantages of having a caregiver for your parents may be the best choice you make for them; and for yourself as well.

When hiring your own caregiver, you should look at companies like Well Beyond Care. Well Beyond Care offers an online caregiving matching application and more. While most in-home care is provided by private duty agencies, Well Beyond Care teaches and guides a Careseeker (a senior or their children) on hiring their own caregiver. Compared to traditional Private Duty Agencies, families can save $10K to $30K per year, and caregivers make an additional $3 to $4 per hour extra using our on-line service.  The Well Beyond Care system, combines the best in caregiver hiring (matching, screening, ratings & background checks) with all the back-office functions (verified time worked, payroll, scheduling, and documentation) to insure safe, reliable, dependable, affordable care is obtained.  Each careseeking member has access to their own local, personal nurse navigator to help guide them and give advice on healthcare options.  An user friendly, free service, the  Well Beyond Care system wants to make sure that there is a rightness of fit in the Care-Pair by empowering caregivers and those looking for care.

The Value of a Healthcare Navigator

Why is having a nurse navigator so important to the well-being of our aging population at home?

Many of us may not know it yet, or have not experienced it yet, but some day, as we or our parents get older are going to come face to face with a new and unexpected complexity in our lives: navigating the health-care and home-care systems.  These convoluted systems make a financial planner’s Monte-Carlo investment simulations look like a game of Shoots & Ladders.

The worst part is that people needing care or family members getting care for the loved ones feel helpless. This is compounded with the onset of old age or chronic illness. Often, older adults and their families can only hope their care providers in the health care system will treat them with their best interests in mind.  Too often doctors and nurses and therapists and other healthcare staff are overburdened and cannot offer the best care nor do their best work.  Remember, hospitals and the healthcare system are huge, and you are just a number in many cases.

In the future, families are going to need someone who can help them navigate these ever more labyrinth entities.  The complexity of the healthcare system in conjunction with the ever-increasing elderly population is going to give rise to a new type of professional known as a Geriatric Care Manager.

These individuals act as advocates and advisors for aging individuals both inside and outside a hospital.  According to a recent Market Watch article, “Is it worth paying an expert to help you navigate the health-care system?; a geriatric care manager is worth between $2,500 and $4,000 per year. These individuals do not personally provide care themselves. Instead they collect and present information, help to design a care plan, and navigate the health care system to implement and facilitate that plan on behalf of the family that pays them. They are guides for families who must travel the sometimes-bumpy modern road of aging.

The most experienced geriatric care managers tend to have years of experience at home health agencies delivering geriatric care management services.  While using nurses in this fashion is common with home health agencies, is rare to find this service used in private duty care. One company, Well Beyond Care has seen this need and offers, as part of its service, nurse navigators to any individuals who join.

“We understand that in-home care for the elderly is more than just getting a caregiver in the home,” states Well Beyond Care’s co-founded and Chief Nursing Offer Lauren Tarrant, RN. “We knew when we started Well Beyond Care that the value we were bringing with our nurses comes from their experience and knowledge of the complex healthcare system, and in helping families navigate their care needs on a personal level.”

“Part of the reason I started Well Beyond Care was because when I had to take care of my mother, there was no service available to help me deliver care from Austin to her in Alexandria, VA,” states CEO and President Jeffrey Fry.  He goes on to say, “there could soon come a time that navigating the morass of the health care system without a healthcare manager will seem just as foolhardy as diving into the legal system without a lawyer or the financial markets without a financial advisor.  We want our nurses to work toward the comprehensive well-being of our clients and their families; and provide them with the information to make well-informed decisions about their loved one’s care. Having this ability can save families thousands of dollars, not to speak of the well-being of their loved ones. Our nurses are there to lower stress and help families make correct decisions.”

Well Beyond Care gives caregivers and those who need care the tools to manage their in-home care online. Caregivers, registered nurses, certified nurse assistants, and geriatric care managers can use the website to be best matched with careseekers looking for care, set their wages, post their weekly availability, receive weekly payment, and build their resume and portfolio with real experience. Careseekers and family members looking for someone to give care for their parents or loved ones, can use the website to search for qualified nurses, CNAs and caregivers, are matched with a caregiver who can best can deliver care to specific care needs, monitor their caregivers’ schedules and payment online and receive personal support from the nurse that is assigned to them when they join. Join for free today at WellBeyondCare.com.