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Healthcare

Abena Agyemang-Panbour is a Home Health Aide from Ghana.

Her path to becoming a Home Health Aide (HHA) began in the operating room, where she served as a Surgical Technologist. Today her area of expertise is delivering cancer care at home for SeniorBridge in the metro NYC area. We sat down with her to learn more about the level of care required to give cancer patients a way to recover at home.

Q

What are the types of cancer patients you’ve worked with?

A

We’ve worked with a local hospital to help bone marrow transplant patients as they recover. They have to stay in one place for 8-12 weeks while the transplant begins to work. One of my patients was a woman recovering from leukemia. She was 58, with two kids at home. We had to make sure we created a safe environment for her as she made the transition home during the pandemic.

Q

What factors do you have to take into consideration when caring for cancer patients?

A

Hygiene and prevention are key. Cancer patients are usually immuno-compromised, so having a clean, healthy home environment is critical. But every home is different and it takes planning.

“We can be an extension of the eyes and ears of the oncology team and also the patient’s advocate.”

Q

What level of planning is involved in the transition home for cancer patients?

A

Before we start home care, there’s an assessment by the Registered Nurse Care Manager (RNCM), who exchanges information with the patient’s Oncology Nurse. We do a complete history, go through every record. Then we plan their food and medication regimen and activities to keep them physically and mentally engaged, always working in safe hygienic conditions. Once the patient is home, I do daily reports, and the RNCM checks in every two weeks to monitor changes. Plus there’s a monthly reassessment. That’s how we can be an extension of the eyes and ears of the oncology team and also the patient’s advocate.

Q

How do you help patients experience joy when they’re battling cancer?

A

Every client is different. There can be fatigue, stress, frustration, or a mindset of always expecting the worst. During our assessment, we involve a social worker to determine the level of support from the family and then we fill in what’s necessary. For example, I knew my leukemia patient loved to shop, so I told her “Let’s go. I’ll drive!” And we went into the city and spent a few hours at the stores she loves. It helped because it took her mind off cancer and let her feel like herself.

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