Doctor treating a woman in her bedDate: 5|25|2024

Blair Findlay, HCCI Development Associate, rode along with Dr. Paul Chiang, HCCI’s Senior Medical and Practice Advisor and Northwestern Medicine HomeCare Physicians Medical Director, for a day of house calls. In this series, Findlay shares her experiences from that day. Read parts III, and III.

Modern-day house calls can allow for a deeper, more compassionate level of care and also break down healthcare barriers. This was especially true during our fourth house call of the day with Fazli and Ilma and their daughter, Ateef.* Ateef had to take off work to attend the visit as she acts as her parents’ primary caretaker.

Fazli is mobile, Ilma is bedbound, and Ateef runs most of the family’s errands. Having the visit in-home allowed Ateef to drop off food and medication for her parents and avoid the back-and-forth of medical visits for both parents. Adding stress to the situation, Ilma’s home hospital bed is old and losing functionality, and her wheelchair is broken, making it virtually impossible for her to leave home.

The visit started off with Dr. Chiang’s Medical Assistant, Nicole, organizing the patients’ medications. The average patient takes 17 medications, and with two parents, Ateef is helping to manage over 30 medications. This is in addition to her working full-time, caring for her own children, and making sure her parents are cared for.

While Nicole organized, Dr. Chiang caught up with the family’s news, remembering from the last visit that there had recently been a family wedding back in Pakistan. This was a nice example of how house calls can allow for interaction beyond just healthcare.

As we left their house, Dr. Chiang asked me, “What do you think is one of the main reasons patients go into nursing homes?” His answer was “a lack of daughters,” spotlighting the fact that the unpaid and laborious job of caring for ailing parents is often placed on a daughter’s shoulders.**

HCCI’s mission is focused on ensuring that every patient in need has access to quality medical care in the home, to drive better health outcomes, increased patient and caregiver satisfaction, better provider satisfaction, and lower costs.

Access to house calls is an equity issue, but this visit made me realize that it is also a gender equity issue. Family caregivers like Ateef provide approximately 80% of home-based care, and their unpaid contributions are valued at over $6 billion annually.***

So, overall, it’s good to know that having access to house calls makes a significant difference in Fazli and Ilma’s lives and lessens the burden that caregiving places on Ateef.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

**Noël-Miller, Claire. Spousal Loss, Children, and the Risk of Nursing Home Admission. The Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2010.

***Unpaid Family Caregiving. Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 20 Dec. 2023.

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