Americare CSS, a certified home health agency that specializes in caring for the mentally ill, offers new grads and nurses with no experience in home care a program to learn the ins and outs of caring for mental health patients.
The Strategic Training Education for Professional Services, or STEPS program, introduces RNs to home care and explains the specialty. There is lots of responsibility, but also a lot of autonomy, says Aline Bender, RN, director of staff development. Nurses in the program complete two weeks of in-classroom instruction, one week of preceptorship and 12 weeks of field training.
Each nurse also receives a drug book and participates in a skills lab tour.
In addition, the nurses attend 18 sessions on the new OASIS home care regulations and after each visit, a thorough review is conducted that includes pre-visit information and all paperwork. We are very careful about education, Bender says. If were going to send people out, we have to make sure they are properly prepared.Aline Bender, RN, left, and Tsiona Eliyahu, RN.
Although it serves a unique population, the program has been a success. More than 80% of Americares patients have some history of psychiatric care, such as dementia, depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. Patients are referred from healthcare facilities, protective services and more. It is not uncommon for Americare to be asked to take on cases other home care agencies cannot, says Judy Northover, RN, director of intake.
According to Tsiona Eliyahu, RN, administrator, Americares focus on education is its key to success. Our nurses are trained to develop a relationship with the patients, she says. That enables them to gain our patients trust.