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Lessons from home

New professor shares home health best practices in Vietnam
by Laura Kammerer,

After working as a labor and delivery nurse, Kate Jones never expected to find her niche in home health.

But she soon realized that she enjoyed building relationships with her elderly patients and hearing their rich stories while caring for them in their homes.

Now Jones is adding to her own narrative, following a trip to Vietnam this spring where she gave her first international conference presentation and shared information about how older patients are managed in the U.S. health care system.

Jones, former chief clinical officer for Amedisys Home Health, came to USC in January and was selected by Dean Jeannette Andrews to represent the College of Nursing as part of the university’s outreach to Vietnam through Global Carolina. Jones, a clinical assistant professor, joined Provost Joan Gabel and Huong Nguyen, an assistant professor in the College of Social Work and Global Carolina’s regional director for Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Vietnam is home to a rapidly aging population, and health experts there are scrambling to identify best practices that can be implemented to meet elderly patients’ needs.

Speaking to a roundtable of health experts, Jones explained the role of care assistants in the United States who complete tasks such as patient hygiene, turning and feeding help. The U.S. system contrasts greatly with the Vietnamese system, where family serve as the primary caregivers, and nurses provide clinical support when patients are hospitalized.

Jones shared information about government regulations for assistants as well as their training, salaries and job descriptions to help Vietnamese health leaders better understand the role as they weigh whether paid caregivers would be culturally accepted.

In addition, Jones also ran two workshops for nurse managers at the National Geriatric Hospital, discussing care for the elderly and nurse leadership. Following her remarks, Jones was peppered with questions about educational opportunities — there are few master’s or doctoral prepared nurses in the country — and best practice care, with participants sharing how their facilities handle certain patients and seeking information about U.S. care standards and practices for like patients.

Jones was invited to visit the geriatric hospital and the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases where she observed several units.

“There was a pride in the level of work they were doing but also a real interest in ‘But what are you doing?’ and, ‘Are we on the right path?’” she said.

Jones said it was an honor to support the university’s global mission and said she was interested in participating in future opportunities in Vietnam.

At Carolina, she is building on her experience as a nurse executive and home health nurse. She is teaching students in the college’s Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Nursing Administration programs and seeking ways to increase undergraduate nursing students’ exposure to home health by giving guest lectures and exploring opportunities to partner with home health agencies to offer clinical experience.

In addition, she is pursing scholarship examining the concept of caring in nurse executives and how the identity of caring evolves from the bedside to the boardroom.

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