Gina Kaurich is the Executive Director of Client Care Services at FirstLight Home Care in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has more than 35 years experience as a Registered Nurse and is also credentialed as a Professional Geriatric Care Manager and certified Master Coach and Trainer.
Her nursing career has extended through Clinical Administrator for a hospital system, Director of Nursing in a continuing care community and Vice President of Clinical Operations in home care, and she volunteered as a Certified Paramedic for her local life squad. She has extensive experience in adult education, regulation, compliance and quality assurance.
Q: Was there something about your experience as a young, hospital volunteer Candy Striper that spoke to you about health, wellness and service?
I remember always having the desire to teach. The opportunity as a Candy Striper allowed me to experience the joy of helping people and answering their needs. Now it seems I’ve come full circle because I spend so much time teaching our employees and clients, and have combined my love of nursing and teaching with a desire to serve.
Q: How did you travel through the changing healthcare environment?
I realized early on that the hospital focus was changing from inpatient to outpatient services and offerings provided in alternative locations like one’s home. I also had several personal family circumstances with my mother, an aunt and mother-in-law, where in-home care was a much welcome solution. The combination of my professional and personal experience shaped my belief that in-home care serves not only the senior client, but also the whole family.
Q: What is the scope of in-home services?
Services are client-specific. For senior clients there are two categories of services, medical and non-medical. Medical or skilled services include nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Non-medical services encompass a variety of life assistance services such as laundry, grocery shopping, medication administration, and companionship, interaction and engagement.
One important home care service is transportation, especially to doctor appointments. To keep a senior client on the road to recovery or ahead of declining health, it’s critical that those all-important medical appointments are not missed.
Q: What special challenges do families face when considering in-home services?
Sometimes a loved one may need in-home services but doesn’t think she needs or wants help. This resistance can be obvious or subtle. We understand both the client’s reluctance to receive services and the family worry about going without. Geriatric Care Managers with strong consultation and mediation experience can work collaboratively with families to reach a decision that’s comfortable for everyone.
Q: What about in-home services for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease?
We believe the FirstLight specialty in-home dementia program differentiates us from others. We focus on the person not the disease. Our caregivers are trained to relate to and engage dementia/Alzheimer’s clients rather than just deal with them. At some point in the disease process Alzheimer’s clients may express repetitive questions or statements.
Let’s say the client repeats, “I want to go home.” Rather than trying to get the client to stop repeating the statement or changing the subject, our caregivers engage with questions, “Where is home?” We learn as much as we can about the client and use that information to create meaningful and personalized daily interactions. Success is realized when clients feel “today has been a good day.”
Q: What benefits do clients and families derive from in-home care?
I think the most important benefit is the freedom from worry and the ability to live life as fully as possible. For the senior clients that may mean care or companion services so they can concentrate on more meaningful life activities; there’s still a purpose to life. For families it is often the comfort of knowing a loved one is cared for while they juggle all of life’s other responsibilities.
Q: What makes FirstLight Home Care unique?
First and foremost it’s our Culture of Care, FirstLight’s beliefs and values that guide us every day as we serve others. It’s our promise to employees and clients that the genuine health and well being of others is our greatest concern. You see this in how we treat each other, how we plan and provide services, and how we listen to and involve family members.
Our Culture of Care is also evident in how we match caregivers and clients and stay in touch with families to ensure we’re fulfilling our commitments. Successful services depend on positive client-caregiver-family relationships. We’ve designed a frequent communication process to keep everyone informed, involved and empowered to work together and support each other.
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