In recent years, home-based care providers have seen the value in being more hands on when it comes to building home health nursing pipelines. In order to pull this off, several providers have partnered with universities to create programs that will, ideally, lead to wider talent pools.
CenterWell Home Health — Humana’s (NYSE: HUM) home health provider arm — is one of the providers that has gone this route.
In 2022, CenterWell Home Health partnered with Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University’s nursing school, to create the CenterWell Home Health Home Lab at the Emory Nursing Learning Center (ENLC).
The CenterWell Home Health Home Lab at ENLC was set up to resemble an apartment and, as part of the instruction, nursing students will simulate home-based care in the space.
“To really make sure that we’re preparing student nurses for a variety of different practice areas, [we need] to have the chance to do clinical rotations,” Kathy Driscoll, chief nursing officer at Humana, told Home Health Care News.
The lab is a three-bedroom apartment that has all of the standard rooms one would find in a home setting, and includes realistic mannequins in different simulated areas. The lab also includes a control room where instructors can coach, observe or support different types of simulations.
This environment allows students to build up their clinical acumen in a lower pressure environment than a patient’s actual home. It also exposes students, who previously haven’t had home health as part of their curriculum, to the field, according to Driscoll.
CenterWell Home Health Home has also taken an active role in shaping the simulation scenarios that the students work on in the lab.
“We work closely with Emory to provide rotations in our physical locations, but we find that it really works best when we can have the students spend time in the simulation lab, just to give them a preview of what’s to come,” Driscoll said. “We’ve also worked with some of the professors at Emory, as well as our own clinicians, to help them create what some of these frequently seen scenarios are. We provided them with the curriculum, so to speak.”
Emory has also been a champion when it comes to home- and community-based care, according to Driscoll.
“Linda McCauley, who’s the dean of Nell Hodgson Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory, has just been a super partner,” she said. “She’s very passionate about care in the home and community, and really has been a very collaborative partner who’s invited us – and our clinicians – in to help to mold nursing students into nurses of the future.”
So far, roughly 700 students have gone through the simulation scenarios at the CenterWell Home Health lab.
CenterWell Home Health’s partnership with Emory isn’t the first time the company has been proactive about building a home health nursing pipeline, either.
The company also has a partnership with the University of Houston. Nursing students at the university have access to a simulation lab, as well as the opportunity to shadow CenterWell Home Health nurses delivering care in patients’ homes.
BrightStar Care educates nurses earlier with Chamberlain University
CenterWell Home Health isn’t the only home-based care provider that understands the need to be directly involved in pipeline building efforts. The Chicago-based home care company BrightStar Care began partnering with Chamberlain University in early 2023.
Chamberlain University had been looking for an organization to develop a home health curriculum with.
“They interviewed many organizations — including many of our competitors,” BrightStar Care CEO Shelly Sun told HHCN. “I think everybody really saw the benefit, long-term, of educating nurses earlier. It’s very common for most nurses to come out of nursing school, and do their clinical rotations in hospitals or nursing homes, and not be exposed to home health while going through nursing school, and not considering it for an area of their practicum.”
The collaboration between the two organizations created a home health care course for nursing students.
Sun explained that once the partnership between BrightStar Care and Chamberlain was formalized, the company “didn’t let grass grow under its feet.”
In other words, BrightStar Care hit the ground running and did the heavy lifting to help develop the curriculum.
“From the time we said yes, the contract was signed within 30 days,” Sun said. “Five months later, the curriculum was signed off and put into the fall of 2023 program at six locations enrollments with Chamberlain. The hope and expectation is that we will continue to expand to more locations in 2024.”
While it’s still too early to properly measure the impact of BrightStar Care and Chamberlain’s course, Sun noted that they’ve surveyed students who participated in the course. More than 50% of these students said they would, now, consider a career in home health.
Additionally, some of the students that finished the course in the fall are coordinating with locations with BrightStar Care to do practicums.
“Instead of doing their practicums of 96 hours at the hospital or nursing home, they are choosing to do that in a home health setting,” Sun said. “It’s a small percentage, 15% or so, but it’s a huge indication that some are willing to not have the breadth of exposure at a hospital and instead are willing to do the rotation in home health. That really means we are onto something at an early stage that we’ll continue to refine, and continue to make better with time.”
Looking ahead, Driscoll and Sun think that it’s crucial for providers to participate in efforts that directly address the nursing shortage, especially in the home-based care space.
“We need to really be thinking about, not just who’s going to come to us, but how we can prepare people,” Driscoll said. “We’ve even been looking further back than colleges of nursing. We’ve been looking at junior high and high school students. How can we educate them about the great benefits of being a nurse? How can we inspire them for the future?”