<img alt="" src="http://www.qpwoei2.com/100802.png" style="display:none;">

Ankota: Ushering in the Next Generation of Homecare Blog

Don't Let Being a Home Care Exec Melt You Down

Posted by Will Hicklen on Apr 4, 2011 5:27:00 PM

entrepreneur logo

entrepreneur Dont melt down title

I recently conducted an informal and wholly unscientific survey of homecare CEOs, including CEOs of home medical equipment and a physical therapy businesses, and found some major overriding stresses that keep them awake in a cold sweat at night, including:

Stress at night

We all know it intuitively, but most of us don't do anything about the stress.  The Japanese have a word for it when it reaches extremes: Karoshi. It's the corporate equivalent of Hari-Kari and literally means "death by overwork." The Japanese government recognizes it as a cause of death and has campaigns to reduce Karoshi. Families of the deceased can and do successfuly sue employers when a family member dies from overwork. Officially, the Japanese work 20 hours less per year than Americans, although some argue that they work more off the books than their American counterparts.

RuhRoh

So what's the point of this blog post? I don't presume that we have a prevalence of home healthcare workers about to fall victim to Karoshi. We do, however, widely recognize caregiver fatigue, whether it be family or professional caregivers. We have a responsibility to better undertstand it and help mitigate the risk of caregivers, who are already stressed, becoming even more so. Entrepreneurs rarely acknowledge the exhaustion that often develops among their ranks. I speak with hundreds of home healthcare executives and their counterparts at Home Medical Equipment (HME/DME), Therapy and Private Duty home care businesses who seem to be determined to make Karoshi a common word in US households. They have the best of intentions and, like the caregivers they employ, are fully committed to their professions and their clients.

Today's post is an effort to encourage our current and future customers--Home Health Care agencies, Therapy, HME and Private Duty companies--to AVOID KAROSHI!

"This is not good for my mental and physical well-being," says Douglas Heddings of New York City in a recent article in Entrepreneur entitled "Don't Melt Down."

The article continues, "Researchers agree. Frequent long hours can increase stress and touch off a host of health hazards, including insomnia and high blood pressure. Poor decision-making starts to creep in. And unlike your laptop, your system doesn't have an internal fan to cool it down.

"Entrepreneurs are, of course, an action-oriented bunch by definition. That's usually a good thing. But a bias toward action can get in the way of the thinking needed to set limits and work smart. Too many entrepreneurs default to reactive behavior, reflexively jumping to the chime of a new e-mail, the pressure of a ticking clock and other external pressures and interruptions. They let technology and time manage them. This leads to the burnout model of work--they just keep going until the paramedics arrive."

What can you do? Well, we don't have all the answers, but there are several that fit within our area of expertise and that have been proven to reduce some of these stresses and dramatically improve business performance at the same time. 

A few helpful hints from Ankota on avoiding Karoshi by better preparing your business to run well and run consistently:

Hints 

For more on improving business performance and making life in charge a bit easier, click here or on the Ankota logo and ask Ankota to help.

ankota logo color[5]

For more on avoiding Karoshi, click on the Geekpreneur logo here:

Geekpreneur logo

Topics: Home Care Entrepreneurship, Healthy Caregivers, Private Duty Agency Software, Home Health Aide Software, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership, Home Healthcare Delivery Management, HME, DME, Home Care Technology, Will Hicklen, Home Therapy, Home Care Scheduling Software, Leadership, Learning

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue is Critical for Home Care Workers

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jan 25, 2011 8:00:00 AM

I've recently read a number of articles about compassion fatigue.  Tired Nurse compassion fatigueIn short, people who focus their lives on caring for others are succeptible to become tired and less compassionate.  Compassion fatigue is also called secondary traumatic stress disorder.  It's a real problem that affects home care workers and other medical professionals including doctors.  There's a lot to learn about compassion fatigue and many sources of information and help.  Click here to google it.

Among the resources available to help, one of the most comprehensive and focused is the Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project has a site here.
Compassion Fatigugue Help Awareness

In reviewing a number of articles with recommendations for overcoming compassion fatigue, here are a few top recommendations:

  1. Recharge your batteries daily: Something as simple as committing to eat better and stopping all other activities while eating can have an exponential benefit on both your psyche and your physical body. A regular exercise regimen can reduce stress, help you achieve outer balance and re-energize you for time with family and friends (click here for source)
  2. Spend plenty of quiet time alone: Learning mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to ground yourself in the moment and keep your thoughts from pulling you in different directions. The ability to reconnect with a spiritual source will also help you achieve inner balance and can produce an almost miraculous turnaround, even when your world seems its blackest.  (click here for source)
  3. Hold one focused, connected and meaningful conversation each day: This will jump start even the most depleted batteries. Time with family and close friends feeds the soul like nothing else and sadly seems to be the first thing to go when time is scarce. (click here for source)
  4. Do the Following (click here for source):  
    • Talk to your doctor or homeopath.
    • Talk to a therapist or pastor.
    • Rest. Eat Right. Participate in moderate exercise.
    • Learn and practice relaxation and/or meditation techniques.
    • Delegate as much of your responsibilities as possible.
    • Take as much time off as possible.

We hope that these suggestions will help you and your caregivers to stay healthy and avoid this debilitating affliction.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota 

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices

Home Care Agencies Need Insurance for Employee Cars

Posted by Ken Accardi on Dec 6, 2010 9:05:00 AM

Today's post comes from the publication InPro Outlook (volume I, No.4, Fall 2010) published by the New York State Home Care Providers (NYSHCP).  The topic seemed relevant beyond New York state so we're sharing it here.  Ankota recently attended the NYSHCP Annual Conference and we offer some video highlights here

NYSHCP Annual Conference

Home care agencies often have employees using their own vehicles or client vehicles on company business. Is your agency adequately protected if there is a serious accident involving your worker?

Business auto policies normally only protect against losses that involve company-owned vehicles, which is why it is important to secure a non-owned auto insurance policy. Employers non-owned auto liability insurance protects your agency from risks associated with employees who are driving their vehicles or a client’s vehicle on agency business.

In the event of an accident, an employee’s auto insurance policy will

However, in the event of a serious accident with considerable bodily injury to the occupants of the other vehicle, the limit of coverage on the

That is why maintaining Employers Non-Owned Auto Liability Coverage makes good sense for home care providers. Coverage can be purchased either as a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to your Commercial Package policy that provides General Liability and Business Property protection for your agency.

respond first, and that policy could also respond on behalf your agency, provided there is no exclusion for business use.employee’s policy might not be sufficient to cover both the employee’s and the agency’s liability.

Through either option, the cost of this coverage is relatively inexpensive, and ultimately depends upon the number of agency employees that regularly use their vehicles or client vehicles on agency business.

In addition to securing non-owned auto coverage, it is important to put risk management tools in place to ensure your agency is adequately protected. This includes periodically checking employees’ personal automobile limits of protection. If relatively low limits of coverage are maintained by the majority of employees, then purchasing a non-owned automobile liability policy becomes more of a priority.

Whether your agency has one or dozens of employees using their personal autos for agency

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota 

business, it only takes one serious accident to create a significant loss for your agency.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, New York State HCP

12 Instant Health Boosts for Home Care Recipients and Caregivers

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 20, 2010 10:32:00 AM

The road to recovery, or better health and quality of life for a home care recipient or caregiver starts with a single step, so today we're happy to share a list of little instant ways you can boost your health, courtesy of Prevention magazine and author Alyssa Shaffer.  You can access the full article by clicking on the banner below, where you can get detail on each "boost."  We offer you a teaser below by letting you know what each boost is and the way it can help your health:

Prevention Mag Health Boosts

  1. Giggle: Improve blood flow by 21%
  2. Brush and floss: Cut risk of head and neck cancer by 400%
  3. Brew a pot of tea: Cut stroke risk by 21%
  4. Pen a thank-you note: Feel 20% happier
  5. Hide your TV remote: Whittle 2 inches from your belly
  6. Doodle during work meetings: Improve memory by 29%
  7. Keep your doctor on speed dial: Slash medical mistakes up to 25%
  8. Squeeze your husband's hand: Slash stress by 200%
  9. Strike a warrior pose: Ease back pain by 56%
  10. Grill some fish for dinner: Lower risk of dementia by 19%
  11. Drink milk at breakfast: Shed 5 pounds
  12. Pour a glass of Pinot: Live 5 years longer

Give one or several of these ideas a try for your clients or for yourself!

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices

Freakonomics Author to Home Care: Redefine the Problem

Posted by Ken Accardi on Oct 13, 2010 8:37:00 AM

In the past, if I was having trouble falling asleep at night, thinking about economics might have been the answer (counting sheep is economics), but that all changed after I read a book a few years ago called Freakonomics.  The authors "redefined the problem" of boring statistical data analysis and came up with a fascinating set of non-fiction stories uncovered by analyzing data.  Now the book has been made into a motion picture.

Freakonomics   Super Freakonomics

Yesterday I had the chance to meet and hear from Stephen Dubner, Stephen Dubnerone of the authors of Freakonomics and their new book Superfreakonomics.  He was speaking to entrepreneurs (in this case technology entrepreneurs but the same message applies to home care leaders) and his challenge was for us to redefine the problems we wish to solve and slso to not accept "the way it's always been done" as a boundary to what is possible.

To make his point, he gave the example of Takeru Kobayashi, the skinny (130 pound) Japanese guy who wins all of the hot dog eating contests.  As it turns out, Kobayashi is an economist and studied the problem from many different angles to develop his technique, and in his first competition in New York he didn't just beat the Takeru Kobayashiprevious record, he doubled it.  To relate this back to home care, we're in the situation of needing to significantly increase our capacity to provide care, and to do it at a lower cost.  So redefining the problem is critically important to our businesses.

Another example that he spoke about at length was about washing hands after using the restroom.  He started by asking the room full of approximately 150 people who doesn't wash their hand bacteriahands after they use the restroom.  One person raised their hand* (I'd imagine that typically there are none).  They did some research and found that 30% of men don't wash their hands in public restrooms.  But that it was even worse for doctors in hospitals...  Then he went through the series of steps that a hospital followed in order to solve their handwashing problem (memos and signs didn't work, $10 Starbucks cards didn't work, and ultimately the problem was solved by forcing a picture of hand bacteria onto the screen saver of everyone at the hospital).

Anyway, I highly recommend the books, and I hope that you can each find a way to redefine a problem that makes your business or your life better.

* As a footnote, the one guy who raised his hand and said that he didn't wash his hands in public restrooms later admitted to being a doctor and explained that he believes he has less chance of picking up bacteria by not touching things in the restroom...  Food for thought.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Home Care Industry, Elderly Care, thought leadership

25 Lessons for Managing your Home Care Workforce

Posted by Ken Accardi on Sep 30, 2010 7:27:00 AM

I usually don't share 25 of anything, but these are quick and great lessons for home care managers.  The original author, Tamsen S McMahon, introduces her article by recounting that early in her career a manager advised her to "do her hair and wear more lipstick" - obviously not appropriate employee feedback.  Perhaps this inspired her to focus on the things that actually do matter and do work in sharing this inspired list...

Tamsen S. McMahon's 25 Lessons of Management:

  1. Understand that your primary job is to remove obstacles from your staff’s path.That includes you. If you’re in the way, move.
  2. About Tamsen S McMahonEmpower them. Give them authority, give them confidence, give them space to do their job.
  3. Be their best advocate. Your staff always gets the credit for a job well done. You take the blame when things don’t go well. This is a conscious decision. Never throw your staff under the bus.
  4. Be empathic. Empathy is required, and can’t be taught. Improved, yes. Taught, no.
  5. Don’t give anyone a task you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. And if it’s a real crap task, make sure you acknowledge that. Bonus points if you apologize for it, too.
  6. A corollary: Don’t establish (or enforce) rules you don’t follow yourself. What’s good for you is good for them, and vice versa. Different sets of rules for management and staff breed discontent.
  7. People will reach the bar wherever you set it. If you set the bar low, don’t be surprised when they don’t aim higher.
  8. Set expectations, not executions. Your way is not the only way—and their way could be better.
  9. If there’s a problem, address it. Right away. Privately. Problems don’t just go away. Respect your staff enough to give them a chance to correct what’s wrong. Shame doesn’t motivate.
  10. Go for “no surprises.” Just like a performance review shouldn’t be the first time your staff hears about a problem, the day of a deadline should not be the first time you hear something’s not getting done. Don’t blindside them, and they won’t blindside you. But set this expectation up early.
  11. When hiring, temperament is more important than experience. Typically, we hire for skills and fire for personality. But skills can be taught, fit can’t.
  12. Your staff don’t belong to you. You have succeeded as a manager when you coach someone into a higher and better position—whether in your organization or out of it. Don’t be selfish.
  13. 99% of the time people do the right thing without being told. Don’t manage to the 1%. Trust people to do the right thing. They will.
  14. Tell them what you know. Tell them what you don’t know. And tell them what you know but can’t tell—and why. Overcommunicate. Lack of information causes many more problems than too much.
  15. Praise in public. Critique in private.
  16. Only critique the professional, not the personal. Yes, that’s hard to do when you’re addressing a personal behavior, but you have to do the work of figuring out how to relate that to the professional environment. Otherwise you’re in the realm of telling people to “wear more lipstick.” Not acceptable.
  17. Respect their time. Especially when they’re meeting with you. Be punctual. Be relevant. Be useful. If you meet over lunch, feed them. If you ask them to work late, let them have that time somewhere else.
  18. Let them vent.
  19. You don’t have to know how to do what your staff does. But you do need to know what they need from you, what they care about, what gets in their way, and what their goals are. And you need to know why they consider what they do important.
  20. Don’t micromanage. Goldfish will grow as big as their tank can accommodate. Give your staff an ocean, not a teacup.
  21. They don’t have to like you, but they do have to respect you. But you have to earn respect. You can’t legislate it. Oppression breeds rebellion, especially if it seems arbitrary. You’ll get as much respect as you give.
  22. Mistakes are fine. Just not the same mistake, and not more than once. The first mistake is usually your fault. The second is theirs. Or yours, if you didn’t address the first one.
  23. When something goes wrong, blame is useless. Find out what happened only so you can help your staff figure out how to avoid repeating the mistake. If you use the discovery process to lay the basis for punishment, you’ll never, ever get the real story again.
  24. Your staff will do what you do, not what you say. Your staff is a reflection of you. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, look to yourself.
  25. You are nothing without them.

Tamsen S McMahon Intellectual Magpie

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Home Care Best Practices

Home Care Workers Benefit from Antioxidants

Posted by Ken Accardi on Aug 10, 2010 6:04:00 PM

When discussing home care technology, this blog is on the leading edge, but unfortunately on the subject of nutrition, I often find myself behind the curve.  So writing about nutrition is intended not just for our healthy caregivers initiative, but for self-learning too.

Recently there's been a lot of talk about which is the best blueberriesantioxidant.  Is it the wild blue-berry or the red bean?  But nobody explains why it matters.   So here it is in simple English...  Antioxidants help prevent your cells from dying.  This means that they can help prevent or delay cancer, heart disease and some effects of aging.  Pretty big deal!  When cells oxidize (as an aside, rust is a form of oxidization) they release free radicals that are able to cause more oxidization thus leading to a chain reaction.  The antioxidants combat this by being oxidized themselves and in the process they remove the harmful free radicals.

There are lots of debates about what the best antioxidant is.  Some studies have touted rare and specialty items like Abut it doesn't really matter which is absolutely the best.  The important thing is to be aware of the types of foods that provide antioxidants and figure out how to incorporate more into your diets and the diets of the people for whom you provide care. My nutritionist friend KC Hayes recently forwarded me a scholarly article concluding that many affordable berries like strawberries, blueberries and red raspberries may prevent cancer just as well as those in studies (early studies used black raspberries).  Here's a link to the story (from the Ohio State University Medical Center). And as you'll remember, KC is a phenomenal photographer so here's one of his recent photos that he shared.

SteamingBeauty

My wife's favorite choice for incorporating antioxidants into her diet is to drink a glass of red wine daily (and here's an article from the Mayo Clinic website backing her up).  I think I'll go get her one now...

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, thought leadership

Why Home Care is a Great Job: Lessons About Motivation

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 30, 2010 8:25:00 AM

Daniel H. Pink is the author of four provocative books about the changing world of work — including the New York Times bestsellers, A Whole New Mind and Drive, which together have been translated into 28 languages. His research and books are about motivation, and more specifically about debunking the conventional wisdom that money is the best motivator.  Instead, he creates a compelling case that the most important motivators are as follows:

  • Autonomy - the urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery - the desire to get better at something that matters
  • Purpose - The yearning to contribure to something larger than ourselves

If these are the motivators, than we can understand clearly why Home Care can be a fantastic profession.

Dan lays out a fairly compelling set of proof of his argument including the results of scientific experiments and real world examples.  One example he uses is about online encyclopedias where he compares and contrasts Microsoft's Encarta - a well managed initiative with pay bonus and incentives, with Wikipedia - an encyclopedia that you contribute to if you're passionate about it and for which you receive no compensation.  In Dan's words, "Ten years ago, no sober economist would have predicted that Wikipedia would beat out Encarta", but as we know, it did.

This first video is my favorite of the two.  While Dan speaks, a cartoon animator depicts his story.  It's 10 minutes long and you can see it by clicking on the picture below.

Motivation by Dan Pink - Animated

The second version is a stage presentation given by Dan which is 18 minutes below.

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, thought leadership, Video

Reducing Home Care Nurse and Caregiver Burnout

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 21, 2010 2:31:00 PM

Does this picture of a caregiver remind you of yourself or someone Tired Nurseon your staff?  Home healthcare nurses, private duty caregivers, and other home care providers often work long shifts and deal with adversity throughout their days.  As such, we've added a "Healthy Caregivers" focus to our blog with articles such as Monday's piece on nutrition which you can read here, and today's write-up about reducing stress for care workers.  Today's content comes from the article "Seven Strategies to Reduce Nurse Burnout" that was published on the Media Health Leaders website.  We encourage you to read the full article by clicking here or on the banner below.

Media Health Leaders

The article offers seven tips for reducing care giver stress (note that the full article elaborates on each point, so check it out here if you're interested in learning more):

  • 1. Stress reduction classes
  • 2. Create a space for relaxation
  • 3. Mentor and buddy programs
  • 4. Recognition and reward
  • 5. Manager involvement
  • 6. Training and education
  • 7. Counseling

To add a small personal editorial, I continue to be overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity and cool, calm and collected demeanor of the caregivers that I meet.  Although I do bet that many of you are able to be this way on the outside while you internalize the stress that you encounter.  So try one of the above tips to get some relief!

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

 

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care

Expert Nutrition Advice from KC Hayes: Home Care Bonus

Posted by Ken Accardi on Jul 19, 2010 8:03:00 AM

Over the past few years, I've gotten to know a very nice and KC Hayesinteresting gentleman named KC Hayes.  KC is a PHD Nutritionist and a professor at Brandeis University.  One of KC's claims to fame is that he invented the concept for the product "Smart Balance" which is a buttery spread that helps to balance cholesterol.  KC is also a highly accomplished photographer and shares his photography, usually once a week with people on an email distribution list that he maintains.  His photography also contains inspirational messages that he shares to encourage his friends and former students.

I'll need to do a few posts to adequately cover some of the nutrition advice that I've learned from KC, but here as a starter is a high level list of good advice that he has shared:

  • Take a multi-vitamin and also supplement it with Vitamin D (4,000 mg a day in winter and 2,000 mg in the summer)
  • Eat Smart Balance to eliminate the trans fats that come in man-made oils and balance your cholesterol
  • By ingesting plant sterols with your other foods, you can block bad cholesterol from being absorbed into your system (more detail below). 
  • Eat berries!  Berries contain anti-oxidents that keep your cells healthy and can prevent cancer

Following up on the plant sterols mentioned above, one way to get these sterols into your system is to buy Corozonas tortilla chips which are delicious and help balance your cholesterol.  Note, that you need to eat the chips with your other meal (because the sterols need to be in your system during digestion).  It is likely the case that if you eat 3 Corozonas chips with each meal that you can bring your cholesterol to ideal levels without medication like statins.  KC also told me about a soy milk product that lowers cholesterol and he's currently working on a study that gives you cholesterol reducing benefits in a small cookie.

As a final bonus, here's a sample of KC's photography:

KC Hayes Yellowstone

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital.  Today Ankota services home health, private duty care, DME Delivery, RT, Physical Therapy and Home Infusion organizations, and is interested in helping to efficiently manage other forms of care.  To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Topics: Healthy Caregivers, Elderly Care, Home Care Best Practices, thought leadership

Subscribe to Email Updates

About Ankota

Ankota provides software to improve the delivery of care outside the hospital, focusing on efficiency and care coordination. Ankota's primary focus is on Care Transitions for Reeadmisison avoidance and on management of Private Duty non-medical home care. To learn more, please visit www.ankota.com or contact Ankota.

Follow Ankota on Twitter!

twitter bird white on blue

Most Popular Posts

Posts by Month

New Module

Add content here.