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Patient Experience Through the Eyes of a Healthcare at Home Nurse

Heidi Buckley, RN, BSN, discusses her experience as a nurse on Mass General Brigham's Home Hospital and Home Hospital Emergency Care teams.

Can you share any recent patient experiences that really demonstrate how being able to take care of patients in their own homes is making a difference?

I recently had a patient that lived at home with her young children and her dog. She also worked from home, so it was very important for her to be in her home environment. 

I felt very honored that she would allow me and the care team into her home twice a day, sometimes three times a day, to care for her. That takes a lot of trust and a high-comfort level, which makes me feel good.

How would you describe Home Hospital to someone unfamiliar with it?

Mass General Brigham Home Hospital is truly about receiving the best care possible in your own home, which means your own couch, your own bathrobe, your own blanket, your own pillow, eating your own food, looking out your own windows. When you are sick and in the hospital, the first thing you think when you’re feeling anxious is, “I just want to go home.” We’ve eliminated that anxiety with Home Hospital. You are home and we're going to come to you and we're going to adapt as best as possible to your schedule, your family, and your individual care needs. We love giving extra TLC in Home Hospital - that's our specialty.

From a clinician’s perspective, what are some of the unique advantages Home Hospital offers?

I think the nicest part about Home Hospital is that the patient load is small enough that you're able to provide really focused nursing care. For example, you may need to go a little bit slower for some patients to feel comfortable and to provide the patient with what they need, both emotionally as well as physically. Having a smaller patient load provides me the opportunity to spend flexible amounts of time in the home of a patient.

You can also establish that nurse-patient relationship very quickly, and many times it extends into a small friendship. A patient’s home is a nice starting point to open up dialogue and make them feel comfortable with you so that you can get a good assessment. You end up knowing a patient’s children’s names, their pet’s names, their favorite season, where they like to vacation and so much more. You learn a lot about somebody when you have the time to ask those types of questions. It helps ease a patient to ask ever day questions peppered in with the medical questions. I had one patient that loved Coca-Cola, like me. Eventually, each time I would visit, the patient would have a Coca-Cola waiting for me! It was a small but important action to help build a connection between us.

And now we understand you’ve transitioned to the Home Hospital Emergency Care program? Can you tell us a little about that?

Mass General Brigham Home Hospital Emergency Care is an Emergency Department avoidance pathway for qualifying patients. Across the board, Home Hospital delivers hospital-level services in the home, and with Home Hospital Emergency Care patients can be treated in their home for many conditions for which they would normally visit an urgent care or Emergency Department. Our paramedics will come to the patient’s home to provide treatment for episodic care, while partnering with a virtual Mass General Brigham Emergency Physician. My background in Emergency Nursing, and my recent experience as a Home Hospital nurse, attracted me to this innovative model.

What inspires you at work?

When I'm having a bad day with traffic or feeling overtired, I think about the patients I've connected with and remember, this is why I do this every day. It re-inspires me and it's a wonderful feeling. I always encourage every nurse to come over to Home Hospital because they will love it.


Discover career opportunities at Mass General Brigham Healthcare at Home and learn about why our home-based care providers enjoy working in one of the fastest growing fields in the U.S.

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