24ECC program: Building the HealthStar Family

HealthStar’s 24ECC program is different than other Corporate “touchy-feely” programs.

Many companies search for ways to increase cultural competency and employee engagement, but very few truly succeed. With the 24ECC program, HealthStar has nailed it.

Developing the 24ECC program

In 2009, HealthStar invited clients and community members to participate in focus groups tasked with identifying the qualities of good caregivers. These result: a long list of ideal characteristics for caregivers, providing great insight into HealthStar’s culturally diverse client base.

HealthStar then narrowed the focus group’s list to twenty-four crucial elements. The new 24 Expressions of Company Culture, or ECCs, fit nicely within the categories of HealthStar’s top four core values: Servant Leadership, Empathy, Altruism, and Integrity. Almost 10-years later, and the 24ECC program still lives on!

24ECCs in action

Each month, 24ECC trainers identify one of the 24ECC values to highlight. They design activities that help staff to discuss and dig deeper into the importance and impact of the chosen value. Through these activities and discussions, we gain a better understanding of the ideals that our Clients identified. We also examine the cultural differences in how values are expressed or perceived. The same values are often interpreted very differently depending on cultural background!

What the 24ECCs do for our team

One of the unexpected benefits of the 24ECCs is that they provide a tool to better understand and communicate with team members. The 24ECC program is a constant reminder that even though someone may do things differently, that doesn’t make it wrong! We learn balance – if you do too much of one value, you might end up not representing other values which are equally important. In conflict, the 24ECCs guide us to consider each other’s point of view without judging or jumping to conclusions. We use the 24ECCs as consistent language to express ourselves, and to discuss and work through concerns.

But for me, the best part is getting together once a month to get to know each other through a new 24ECC activity. I love the creative ideas that our 24ECC planners come up with! 24ECC Bingo, collage making, skits, and gift baskets – and sometimes a 24ECC snack. When we build a team that communicates and has fun together, we also develop something more than just a place where people go to complete tasks.

What 24ECC “Work Love” can do for you

HealthStar is more than a group of people who work together. We are a team that supports each other and truly cares about each other.  We are a work family, spread across three states. HealthStar people get excited to see each other at quarterly meetings – it’s like family coming to visit, including the cooking, the hugging, and the chatting.

Best of all, when HealthStar needs to get a project done, we all jump in and do what we can. We appreciate and capitalize on the things that make us different, because we know that’s part of building a great team! By fostering this Work Love relationship in our offices, we automatically extend the same level of care to our Clients. It’s not always easy, but with the 24ECCs, we have the foundation to build on. It is a great base to support great care!

Check out our website for more information about this program and how it helps us provide the best possible care!

 

Keeping Traditions Alive and Celebrating Different Cultures Through the Holidays

The holidays are upon us and with this time of year comes opportunity to spend time with family and friends, giving to those in need, and traditions rich with fond memories and cultural celebrations.

Minnesota is home to a diverse cultural population and HealthStar Home Health is proud to serve families in many of these cultures. We often see families passing on holiday traditions to the next generation. Here are some of the cultures we work with and a little about their traditions.

The Hmong New Year is a huge celebration in the Hmong community with many family members traveling to be part of the extravagant festivities. St. Paul, Minnesota plays host to the New Year celebration which typically lasts up to 5 days and includes sports tournaments, pageants, and other contests or forms of entertainment, along with feasts of delicious traditional Hmong food. Historically, the Hmong New Year was celebrated to give thanks to ancestors and spirits as well as to welcome a new beginning. Although there are no dress code requirements, many Hmong Americans choose to wear traditional Hmong clothing during this time. The Hmong New Year celebration typically occurs late November to early December, which is the end of the rice harvesting season when all their work is done and serves as a Thanksgiving holiday for the Hmong people.

Minneapolis and St. Paul are home to thriving Latino communities. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, Catholicism plays an important role in the daily lives of Latinos and many Latino homes include an altar for prayer with statues of saints. The parish church is the center of the Latino community. Some of Latin America’s most recognized traditions are associated with this time of year. Parents use this opportunity to develop their children’s cultural identity and spend time with family by sharing these holiday traditions. One important Mexican festival is the Las Posadas, which is a nine-day event commemorating the journey of Mary and Joseph before the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. Often, there are reenactments and processions at church or in their homes to celebrate this with their family and community.

The most popular Russian holiday is their New Year celebration, which leads into the Orthodox Christmas celebration. The Russian New Year holiday is traditionally a 5-day non-working holiday from January 1 through January 5. Traditionally there is a decorated New Year tree and the Russian children believe in the mythical Grandfather Frost. Much like Santa Claus, Grandfather Frost is a beloved character who wears a long blue or red coat with a matching hat, and carries gifts in a large sack on his back. Grandfather Frost also carries a magical staff that has the power to freeze everything around him. Many attend New Year’s parties where it is customary to dress up in costume and children memorize a poem or song to recite for Grandfather Frost in exchange for a small gift. There is plenty of traditional Russian food and drink to share with family and friends.

Pow Wows are a time to put aside differences and focus on celebrating life and traditions. The Ojibwe Native Americans celebrate many different traditions, but the most well-know may be the Pow Wow celebration. This is a time when they come together to celebrate their history and religion using various art forms, such as dance, music, and art. The drum is the main focus of the Pow Wow. Made of wood and hide, approximately three feet in diameter, its circular shape represents the circle of life. The drum is a very sacred object, made only for sacred use, and before the Pow Wow drum can be pounded or used in a ceremony it must be blessed by an elder. Thru the drum, the Ojibwe are reminded of their connection to Mother Earth. Selling or trading arts, feasting on traditional foods, song, and dance are all very important aspects of a Pow Wow.

HealthStar Home Health offers culturally-relevant services that address the unique needs of our Minnesota, Arizona and New Mexico populations. We promote independence and self-sufficiency by empowering patients and their families to be active participants in the provision of care. Using culturally-sensitive approaches, HealthStar Home Health offer our clients a wide variety of services in home health care, community based care, mental health, and personal care assistance with focused sensitivity to economic factors and health beliefs. Call HealthStar Home Health today at 651-633-7300 for more information or to schedule a no-charge consultation to discuss the many services we can customize to your needs.

First Nations Home Health

HealthStar Home Health is proud to announce the launch of a new website and an initiative with First Nations Home Health – Minnesota’s premier provider of home health services for Native American communities.

First Nations Home Health emerged as a response to community need to provide culturally relevant services to underserved populations. What began in 2003 in Minneapolis as a handful of caregivers has grown to a team including nursing & therapy staff and administrative employees serving communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico.

Our mission is to provide unparalleled public health care services while respecting the unique needs of our culturally diverse clientele through stewardship, honor-driven values, and a genuine desire to serve. One way we fulfill our mission is to serve communities by empowering people with mobility, cognitive and sensory disabilities live more independent lives at home. We also help the Native American communities we serve by identifying and focusing on common health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

It is extremely difficult to care for a senior loved one at home and we understand how overwhelming it can be. First Nations Home Health serves the Native American population with an approach that is culturally sensitive to the unique and ethnic needs of the communities. Our services are specifically designed to enhance the health and well-being of those living on and off the reservations supported by First Nations Home Health. Here is just a sampling of what we offer:

Home Health Care Services

  • Skilled Services
  • Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care
  • Behavioral Nursing
  • Private Duty Nursing

Mental Health Services

  • Children’s Therapeutic Services and Supports (CTSS)
  • Adult Rehabilitative Mental Health Services (ARMHS)

Personal Care Services

  • Traditional

Home and Community Based Services

  • Homemaking
  • Respite
  • Chores
  • Companion Care

We are proud to say we hire from within the community whenever possible and complete a full background study on each in-home caregiver, as well as a face-to-face interview, reference checks and competency evaluation. Once on board, all employees are provided training and many are trained at the home health aid level. Our team of caregivers, nurses and case managers consistently provide services that allow your aging loved ones to stay at home in familiar cultural surrounding, develop good health habits and reduce hospitalizations. With skilled professionals who provide a broad range of quality programs and services, our goal is to improve the health status of Native Americans who experience an unusually high rate of preventable illnesses.

At First Nations Home Health, we seek to understand and address the key issues that affect the health of individuals and families in the Native American community, providing culturally competent health care services, and engaging in prevention and health education initiatives. We deliver care with integrity, compassion, respect, and dignity. We look forward to serving you.

Diabetes and the Native American Population

The numbers are alarming. 40% of Native Americans in Minnesota have diabetes according to Lori Watso, a former public health nurse and Shakopee tribe member as quoted in a Star Tribune article. This epidemic will continue to expand as Native Americans are nearly twice as likely as whites to become obese, more than twice as likely to have Type II diabetes and, among children, the rate of obesity and diabetes will soon reach 50% according to a report by the Shakopee Mdwakanton Sioux Community. Not limited to a few tribes living on reservations, the entire northern part of Minnesota contains four of the five least healthy counties where two-fifths of the population in Mahnomen County (least healthy) is Native American, 11.9% in Cass (#2) and 20.8% in Beltrami (#5). This according to County Health Rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin). These numbers are not at all surprising to us here at Healthstar Home Health as it’s a common health issue we treat through our First Nations and Circle of Life Home Health initiatives. Karen Moses, RN Case Manager in our greater Minnesota branch location says that 90% of her clients have diabetes and 99% are Native American. By offering home health care services on the Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake, Bois Fort, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs Reservations, we see firsthand the affects of diabetes and are working to empower patients and their families to be active participants in the solution.

Risk Factors

Obesity
With an abundance of fat cells in the body, insulin cannot do its job which is to take glucose (sugar) out of the bloodstream and pack it into healthy cells. Gaining as little as 10 pounds over 15 years can double your insulin resistance and increase your risk of diabetes. Obese adults are seven times more likely to develop diabetes compared to adults at a healthy weight. But, for the Native American population, what causes obesity?

Poor Nutrition
Prior to the Civil War, Type 2 diabetes was practically non-existent. Following the war, Indians were forced onto reservations and the government began providing food commodities according to Devon Abbott Mihesuah, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who runs the American Indian Health and Diet Project at the University of Kansas.  Wild rice and grains gave way to flour, processed cheese and macaroni and low fat meats such as fish, deer and rabbit was replaced by beef and pork.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Also prior to the Civil War, Native Americans lived off the land which kept them active with fishing, harvesting, gathering and trapping. With the lack of a replacement to these activities and acquisitions of motorized vehicles, a once active community found themselves sitting often with very little exercise.

Genetics
The thrifty gene hypothesis penned by James V. Neel states that some populations have genes which enable them to efficiently maintain higher levels of healthy fat during periods of food abundance that is depleted during periods of shortage (feast and famine). While this hypothesis has often been disputed, the activity and types of foods involved with storing food for the winter do give credence to a difference in lifestyle. Genetic markers and body type also indicate a genetic predisposition to diabetes.

Alcoholism
According the Indian Health Services, the rate of alcoholism among Native Americans is six times the U.S. average. Alcohol is often high sugar and carbohydrates which quickly turns into fat. Depression is associated with alcoholism which leads to a host of other health factors.

Treatments

Medication
Pills and insulin injections are the most commonly prescribed treatments. It is still up to the patient to take the medication which can be an issue.

Nutrition Programs
Residents at the Little Earth of United Tribes are growing food common to their ancestors which they call the “decolonized diet” according to a Star Tribune article. Nutrition counseling that we offer through First Nations Home Health includes reading labels and eating all 5 food groups in moderation.

Exercise Programs
Childhood obesity is prevalent int the Native American Population. To combat this, the diabetic fitness center at the reservation on Leech Lake, MN holds fitness programs, camps and a walk-a-thon to bring awareness to the issue. Members can get a doctor’s prescription to use the center safely and employees of the tribal government are given a 30 minute break per day specifically to exercise.

Dangers if Not Treated
If diabetes is not treated or properly controlled, the body starts eating away at muscle as it tries to burn muscle for energy. Other health issues that could occur:

  • Neuropathy (numbness) in feet & toes
  • Ulcers
  • Gangrene
  • Blindess
  • Damage to eyes, kidneys and liver

Even with all of these treatments, the epidemic is getting worse. That is why the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is partnering with the University of Minnesota and two other nonprofits to launch Seeds of Native Health whose goal is to offer better access to healthy food which focusing on education and research. Here at HealthStar, our Native American-specific programs (First Nations and Circle of Life) offers equitable access to health care in order to reduce health disparities in diverse communities. Our cultural competence program, the 24ECC, internalizes the values of those we serve.