Home Care Team Manager: A Next Step for RNs at VITAS
At VITAS, our registered nurses pursue their passion by caring for hospice patients in hospitals, inpatient units, and patient homes. They work with commitment and compassion to ensure hospice patients receive the comfort care they deserve.
We’re proud of the possibilities for career growth we offer our RNs, including the role of home care team manager.
Shelly DeCock, RN, is one of our exceptional home care team managers in San Antonio.
“I'm responsible for a team that cares for patients who are in their own homes,” she says. “I manage the nurses, RNs, LVNs, social workers, chaplains, and home health aides to make sure we're providing the best care possible for those home patients and their families.”
The work is important. Running a successful team directly impacts patient care, and when patients are hospice patients, there’s simply nothing more essential, she explains.
The ‘Coach’ of the Team
As a leader, the home care team manager supervises, evaluates, and coordinates the work of an interdisciplinary team. They assure continuity of care, serve as patient advocates, and maintain patient records.
“I've always looked at my role as team manager as kind of the coach for the team,” Shelly says. “I'm communicating to them what they need to know to give the best care in the field and taking care of the office stuff for them. I don't want them to be focused on that when they're in the field with patients.”
“I think you have to be a little thick-skinned, well-organized, compassionate, a good listener. A little bit of everything,” she adds.
Passionate About Hospice—and Her Team
Shelly came to VITAS three years ago, but initially, hospice was not her plan. “I went into nursing school with the plan to do labor and delivery, but I had never felt more at home than when I got my first hospice job.”
We're here to uplift each other.
Shelly’s own background as a nurse helps her empathize with and anticipate the needs of her team members.
“I'm passionate about my team. I want them to know that I'm there for them no matter what,” she says. “I can put myself in the role of the RN, LPN, even aide, and know what they’re doing and how to support them.”
“Being in hospice and dealing with patients who you know are going to pass is very emotionally draining, but it's also very, very rewarding. When you get feedback from families, and they tell you that you made the experience so much better for them, that makes it all worth it,” she says.
Possibilities for Career Growth
Home care team manager is just one of many opportunities for career growth VITAS offers for nurses. Additional benefits include tuition reimbursement and the new registered nurse certificate program, Pathways to Excellence.
“VITAS offers a lot of opportunities to better yourself and to grow and move up in the organization,” says Shelly. “The new programs let employees know VITAS is committed to helping them improve themselves. If they want to move up to team manager or one day be patient care administrator, we're going to help them do that. We're here to uplift each other.”
The Importance of Communication
Fostering a team culture that is based on mutual respect and open communication is important to Shelly. Her team holds video call huddles each morning, in addition to the weekly interdisciplinary team meetings.
“It helps us stay more connected. We talk about patients who are declining, patients who have passed, new admissions, issues going on that we need to discuss as a team,” she says. “Having that technology and being able to see them makes us stronger as a team.”
Excellent communication results in better patient outcomes, which is ultimately what it’s all about: creating the best experience for patients and their loved ones.
“We can do things to make the experience better, not only for the person who's passing, but for the family. If we make it the best experience that we can, it eases that burden for them because you only get only one shot,” she says.
“I'm committed to hospice. I'm committed to making sure people have the best end-of-life experience they can. That's what I've been called to do so I'm going to do it to the best of my abilities.”