By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Several years ago, Elaine Long and Michelle Easterbrook learned the hard way that often there are huge gaps in the standard of care available in the home health industry – each of them having had a dependent family member who had received care that was patently sub-par. Though their own backgrounds couldn’t be more diverse, with Elaine’s career as a nurse having taken her all over the country, and Michelle’s career in automotive and electronic manufacturing pretty much keeping her in the Atlanta area, they knew that someday they wanted to see if they could join forces and improve things. Their idea was born out of necessity, and their respective experiences caused them to conclude that “something just isn’t right.”
That determination to make things better came true just a few months ago when both families moved to North Alabama, and the proof of it is now located at 803 South Jefferson in Athens. The name of their outfit is Diverse Home Care of Alabama, and they are up and open for business. Let me tell you a bit about Elaine and Michelle, and my desire is that you will be able to see what a unique, high-quality, and positive enterprise they have brought to our community.
Elaine has decades of experience in a number of types of nursing. She has done neurosurgical intensive care, critical care, and case management; she has taught nursing, helped with vehicle adaptation, been consulted when home remodeling is necessary, and testified in courtrooms. In a word, Elaine has done pediatrics to hospice, and everything in between. She is also a trained trauma case manager. To avoid burnout from the rigors of intensive and critical care, she became a travelling nurse. One thing was common to all of her experiences, and that was the bureaucracy that gets in the way of giving outstanding care, and it troubled her.
By contrast, Michelle’s background might not appear to be a great fit for the home health field, but being both an operations and a plant manager in the automotive and electronic manufacturing industries, brings with it many transferable skills. She loves things like logbooks and metrics, as well as KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which helps greatly with staying on top of the mountains of records that are a part of today’s health care system. More importantly, the passion for excellence and continual improvement is what Michelle loved about her former career. She loved to train people well, encourage as well as coach, and watch with satisfaction as they grew in skill, confidence, productivity, leading to successful outcomes. She also loves to quilt, and will happily do so with any of Diverse Home Care’s clients.
This blend of experience and philosophy and how it is applied to the staff is what sets Diverse Home Care of Alabama apart. “We screen and screen and screen again,” says Michelle with regard to the background checks. They also “train and train and train some more” the CNAs who join their team. Elaine takes the Certified Nursing Assistants and turns them into what she calls PCTs, or Patient Care Technicians. “The PCTs are taught how to interact with the patients, not babysit,” says Elaine. She added, “They are not allowed to be on Facebook while they park their patient in front of the TV, either.” Elaine has regular roundtable meetings with the PCTs, and they need to be able to tell her something they have learned about the patient, as well as be willing to work together to come up with creative ways to stimulate their memories and cognition. “The three areas we emphasize are mobility, socialization, and nutrition, and we encourage the PCTs to speak up and give us their ideas and feedback,” said Elaine. The mission statement for the PCTs is to “know and promote the well-being of the client,” and to demonstrate it.
Patients get a chance to get out and go shopping, if they are able, cook with supervision, and “break bread together,” said Elaine and Michelle. Diverse Home Care does everything they can to help clients live an empowered life while still in their own home. They have a special heart for veterans who have served our country and treat all seniors the way they would want to be treated themselves.
But Diverse Home Care is not just for elder care. They will take care of special needs babies so a mom can get a break, or help working parents where there has been surgery and their at-home child needs extra care. A further list of areas where they are happy to serve includes: companion care, personal care and homemaking, transitional care from the hospital, rehab or after surgery, transportation, Mom’s day off, social engagements, medication management, disability assessment, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and end of life care.
I asked Elaine and Michelle why I should pick Diverse Home Care for either my own needs or those of a family member, and here’s what they told me, “We believe in holistic care, as in the care of the whole person. And, because of our experience, we have a high level of compassion, and we understand the importance of connection.” If this type of affordable, specialized in-home care is what you are looking for, then call today for a no-obligation assessment, and you’ll see that you need look no further than Diverse Home Care of Alabama.
803 South Jefferson Street, Athens, AL 35611
Hours: M-F 8-5, Sat by appointment
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner