In honor of National Home Care & Hospice Month, we spoke with the founder and CEO of Freedom Home Health Care, Diana Taylor RN, to find out what inspired her to start the agency, why she’s so passionate about her work and how the agency has succeeded.
Here's Diana's story:
“I’ve always had a passion for helping others,” says Taylor. A passion that really took off when she was in nursing school. “While getting my degree, I found out I was pregnant – my oldest son, Austin, was born with a physical disability, with no use of his arms or legs.”
At the time, Diana and her husband knew nothing about home care and nothing about Medicaid. “We were kind of flying by the seat of our pants trying to figure out how we were going to find care and pay for all of Austin’s needs.”
Shortly after Austin’s birth, Diana attended a career fair and signed up to be a home health aide – her first exposure to home health – while she was finishing her nursing degree.
Diana’s path and passion for home health only continued to grow after a phone call. That phone call was with Iowa Medicaid, where she found herself advocating for her son’s care needs.
“They told me, that because of his age, Austin could be cared for in a daycare setting, but I couldn’t find a daycare who was willing to take care of a child who was effectively a quadriplegic,” says Taylor. Fortunately, she was able to navigate through the health care system, explaining that Austin needed in-home care and later was able to obtain a home care agency who could help Austin.
Not only did she find an agency to provide Austin with quality care, she later was hired to work for them, as a case manager. Her experience in home care continued to grow when she landed a position with a national agency a few years later. Additionally, she took on some private consulting, helping small home health agencies grow and become Medicare certified.
“What I found through all these positions was that I really enjoyed regulation, writing policies and figuring out the most efficient way to get things done.”
It wasn’t until an employer asked her to evaluate herself – listing her short-term and long-term professional goals in her annual performance review – that she realized she wanted to start her own home care agency.
With Diana’s many experiences, knowledge and education under her belt, along with her personal desire to help the disabled and the elderly, she was ready to give back to the Iowa community she knew.
In February 2008, Freedom Home Health Care was born.
Flash forward 11 years. Diana’s son is the operations manager, tasked with ordering all of the equipment and hiring the home health aides.
Her secret to success? “We’ve been able to succeed because we don’t limit our payers; we accept all payers,” says Taylor. “We also do really well with the complex, chronic care patients. We are above the national average in keeping our clients out of the hospital and avoiding emergency room visits.”
What sets Freedom Home Health Care apart from others? Taylor says it comes down to having a strong staff who stay with you for a long time by keeping their work/life balance in check. “Usually you see a revolving door with staff in the home health industry, but we have nurses who have been with us for more than three years,” says Taylor. That’s a testament to understanding the needs and demands of her staff she says.
“We’ve got a really good pulse on work-life balance, and I think that’s because I’ve walked in our staff’s shoes as a nurse and as a home health aide,” Taylor says. “We also make sure we provide staff with resources that help make their jobs easier by giving them technology that isn’t cumbersome to use.” By doing so, staff can keep their focus on patients not paperwork.
In the end, it all goes back to the patient, she says. “What can we do to give our patients the best care possible?”
That’s been Taylor’s mission since day one.
Freedom Home Health Care is an accredited and Medicare-certified, privately-owned home care agency in Iowa. To find out more about the organization and its services, please visit www.freedomhomehealthcareia.com
Netsmart salutes the millions of nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who work in home care and hospice. You make a remarkable difference for the patients and families you serve. Thank you for the central role you play in our healthcare system and in homes across the nation.
Home health fast facts:
- Home health aides are projected to be the third fastest-growing occupation in all industries, increasing 47% over the 10-year span from 2016-2026, according to the US Department of Labor (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
- Not only the elderly benefit from home care, over 1/3 of persons requiring in-home care are under the age of 60.
- Home health aides provide much-needed care services to the elderly, disabled and infirm.