Article Content

Good training will help home care agencies prepare for the new Medicare era.


The new Medicare Prescription Drug Card benefit comprises hundreds upon hundreds of pages of new federal statutes and regulations. The Medicare Reform Act itself is practically 1,000 pages, not including the regulations developed by CMS. This is enough to challenge even the most dedicated policy experts!! A recent survey of VNA CEOs revealed that only 14% of those surveyed felt they knew enough about the new Medicare Prescription Drug Card program.


To complicate matters further, while clinicians may be inundated with information, patients may be experiencing the exact opposite problem. Many Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those who are frail and homebound, are likely to have difficulty learning about the new benefit and may be vulnerable to multiple and confusing solicitations. That makes all home health agencies a tremendous resource for educating Medicare beneficiaries and their care-givers about the new drug discount cards. Our clinicians, social workers, and home care aides are uniquely qualified to understand the needs of low-income Medicare beneficiaries.


So how does a home care provider proceed, in this environment of information overload?


Ready or not, many home care patients will look to their clinicians for guidance as they try to sort their way through this program. This realization lead me to ask myself, "Am I ready for this new Medicare era?" I know many of you may be asking yourself and your staff the same question. That may depend on how well you, and they, can answer questions like these:


* Do you know how to tell an approved card from a fraudulent one?


* Do you know about the $600 drug subsidy for low-income beneficiaries?


* Can you tell your patients where to find information, or how to enroll once they've selected a card?



"Be Prepared" may be the Boy Scout's motto, but every home care clinician lives by these words, too. You may be wondering, "But how can I effectively prepare?" To help, the VNAA is conducting a major, national "Train the Trainer Drug Card Training" campaign, designed by VNA experts for home care clinicians. This training will be open to all home care agencies, not just VNA's, and it's FREE!!


The VNAA has developed this educational program to enable VNAs to train staff quickly and efficiently on the new Medicare Drug Card Program. A 90-minute educational conference call is bolstered by a comprehensive curriculum and training kit, written for clinical directors and senior nurse managers. When participants are done with the teleconference session, they'll have the knowledge and materials to train an entire clinical staff on the new Prescription Drug Card Program (and nurses can receive Continuing Education credits for this session through the VNAA).


While change is often difficult, it can be invigorating, too. Our goal at the VNAA is to help ensure that the process of change does not undermine the benefits of change for home care staff and their patients.


The VNAA is doing a major service to its colleagues throughout the country by offering this Train the Trainer program free to interested agencies. Visit the VNAA Web site, and click on the "Train the Trainer" logo to register.