The roles nurses play in their profession is never easily defined. It is an understatement to say that they wear many hats. In fact, every day the nurses at Broad Street encounter one-of-a-kind situations that are simply unprecedented. It is through their education, experiences and internal collaboration that they step up to meet the challenges presented every day.
As Patient Advocates and as Care Managers, Broad Street Nurses have a unique perspective on the families in their care. Being in a family’s home provides a deep understanding about our clients and the lifestyle they lead. It is through this intimate understanding that our Nurses are able to proactively support each individual client.
Amanda Marian, RN joined the Broad Street Nursing team in 2020. She has brought a wonderful energy, a sparkling personality and an embodiment of the traits needed to be a trusted and caring Patient Advocate for our clients. We are fortunate to have her on our team and even more fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with her to learn more about her and the many hats she wears.
You are originally from Rockford, what brought you to the Chicago area?
My family is really all from Chicago, so this city has always played a huge role in my life. I grew up in Schaumburg before moving to Rockford and my childhood is filled with memories made at the zoos, the lakefront, Marshall Field’s and the theater. I loved going to Toots for ice cream with my dad. I was sustained as a child mainly by Chicago style hot dogs and Maurice Lenell cookies.
I learned the highs and lows of unconditional love from the experience of being a Cubs fan and I made more than a few late-night memories at the Hangge Uppe in my younger days. When I got engaged and moved here, in a lot of ways it felt like coming home.
As a Clinical Supervisor, what do you find most rewarding?
When Home Care is going right, it is something that improves life for everyone involved: clients, their loved ones and the Care Professional. Once a case is underway and the basic needs of the client are being met, the CPs have a chance to meet much more intangible needs for our clients such as emotional support and companionship. In turn, their opportunity to build a meaningful connection with their clients gives our Care Professionals more than just a paycheck, which I believe we are all ultimately looking for.
As a Care Manager/Patient Advocate what do you find most rewarding?
Something really great about doing case management and advocacy is that I’m often a person with the advantage of seeing all the puzzle pieces that make up the “big picture” for a client’s care. Drawing on a wide range of my own knowledge and experiences as well as the wealth of knowledge available to me from my colleagues, I’ll sometimes connect dots that haven’t been connected yet or solve a problem before anyone’s considered it. It’s a little bit investigative work, a little bit creative problem solving and turns out to be pretty rewarding.
What is the most enjoyable part about working with Clients and their families?
Home Care allows the client to live richer, fuller days with their family. It also allows families the opportunity to refocus their energy on the connections they share with each other. Sometimes, when we come into the picture, a loved one has been providing care and assistance to the client for some time. They call us when they are looking for relief from that role and sometimes there is some guilt mixed in with that. It’s very rewarding to be allowed into that situation and offer reassurance. Slowly, as a family begins to let go of their previous caregiver role and trust us to take on some of that responsibility, I often get to see them relax and reconnect with their loved one. That is rewarding because you learn a person’s history and you see how much a client is loved and needed.
It’s also just really fun to get to know a client’s family members and see their unique relationships and dynamics. Sometimes we get let in on the inside jokes or the stories that still make the whole family laugh uncontrollably.
As an RN, how often do you find yourself engaged in Patient Advocacy?
Patient Advocacy is something that nurses begin discussing and practicing right away when they are in nursing school and it can never really be separated from the role of an RN. It is an inherent and important part of everything we do in our practice. So, I’d say I am continuously advocating for my clients in one way or another.
Patient Advocacy as a more formal role is also its own growing field in the healthcare industry and it’s easy to understand why. There are many instances as a Clinical Supervisor that I can be asked to step in more formally to attend a doctor’s appointment or an ER visit when family cannot. I can assist them to locate a more suitable doctor or an affordable place to get an MRI within their insurance network.
What is the most important aspect of your job with Broad Street?
To me, the most important aspect of my job with Broad Street is the opportunity to create a working relationship between Clients and Care Professionals where both sides feel valued and satisfied with what they’re getting. I know from experience that it is easy to feel used up and disposable as an employee in healthcare. I also know from experience that it is easy to feel dismissed and overlooked as a patient or client.
As a Clinical Supervisor with Broad Street, I get to try and change both of those experiences. I have the time to really chat with clients and make them feel heard. I work hard to figure out precisely how our agency can best help them. Our services are extremely flexible and customizable, and I get to pay real attention to the details of that and then make sure everything is followed through.
I also get to spend time with the Care Professionals, learn their strengths and what they’re coming to work for, what’s going to help them feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when they go home. I really appreciate each and every Care Professional I work with and I want to communicate their value to them.
How do you ensure a client’s safety and well-being?
The main way we ensure the safety and well-being of a client in our care is through the development and execution of a well thought out Service Plan. We do our best to proactively anticipate all of a client’s needs ahead of time and plan interventions and processes to keep them safe and support their well-being. The Service Plan is evaluated and updated regularly by the Clinical Supervisor. We also get very involved to make sure each Care Professional is fully trained in any skills required, fully understands the Service Plan and is executing it appropriately.
Additionally, I greatly value the input of the Care Professionals who are with my clients each day. They really get to know the client’s baseline and they are often the first to catch on to a new problem- health related or otherwise. I work hard to foster open, ongoing communication with the Care Professionals because I want them to feel supported and encouraged to share any insights with me that could further help the client.
What can you tell us about your first day with Broad Street?
My first days with Broad Street Home Care actually started out in a Care Professional style position with a client recovering at home after a long battle with COVID-19 in an ICU. I’d been recently hired as a Clinical Supervisor and this new client of ours required some skilled nursing assistance, so I jumped in. It was an extremely rewarding experience to see things from the Client and Care Professional experience and I learned some really important things about Home Care that I use every day in my Supervisor role. I think the most significant thing I learned was that there really aren’t many healthcare settings more intimate than caring for a person in their home. You’re surrounded by their art and photos of their family; you observe their bedtime routine and learn how they take their tea. It really drives home the reasons we all got into care giving in the first place, because you get to be present for the ups and downs of a person’s daily life and you become easily invested in making those days go better for them.
I also learned firsthand how intimidating and stressful it can be for a client to have a caregiver in their home. Something we may take for granted as professionals because we do it every day can feel very invasive to a person who has never relied on another for help before. I try and remind my team members to remain sensitive to that. I think it’s very important to strike a balance between friend and professional in these settings.