Prairie Waters is a sizable home care program, serving 60 out of the 87 counties in Minnesota. They recently opened an office in Granite Falls. We sat down with Bobbie Crocker, Customer Relations Manager of Prairie Waters, as well as Ashley Maiers, Director of Operations, and Andrea Anderson, the Clinical Manager. Maiers explained that Prairie Waters has been working on a strategic plan to look for places that are under-served. They have a “hub” in the form of their Hutchinson office, and Granite Falls is one hub of southwest Minnesota.

Crocker explained one of the most important aspects of her job is helping people become aware that the services are even there. She goes to clinics and hospitals to talk with staff and patients, as well as schools to visit RN and CNA classes and talk with faculty and students. Outreach is critical, and she reports that people are happy to learn that services are available in their town instead of having to drive for hours.

Crocker added, “We love the Granite community. Everyone is so nice. People stop in the office all the time just to check out who’s in the office now. Also the reception from the clinic and hospital has been very welcoming.” The services offered are pretty wide: ranging from nursing services, home health aide to help with personal care, homemaking cooking and cleaning, physical therapy occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social work, and more. They do have extended aide services for those who need either 24/7 care. Respite services are also available. They encourage people to basically just call and ask. They are client focused, the treatment is individualized.

Crocker also has to deal with misconceptions and misinformation. Medicare and insurance can be intimidating, and Prairie Waters prides itself on helping people navigate the intimidating overload of information. They are also Medicare certified, so if clients qualify, Medicare can cover costs. Another goal regarding education about home care reflects the overall goal of the program. They want to help people stay living in their own homes as long as possible. People recover much faster living in their own comfortable environment.

They run into a problem where people don’t grasp what services are available. This can lead to assumptions where people think they need to be outpatients in the hospital, like for wound care, infusions, or physical therapy. The other assumption is that the person may need to move in to assisted living or a nursing home. Prairie Waters does free RN evaluations to assess the potential client’s needs and see which services are recommended. They emphasize that the client is in control of the home care. They can choose when to increase, decrease, or stop services. There aren’t any contracts locking them in to long term care. They want the client to have a goal to work towards, which contrasts with other care programs. One amusing example was a woman who wanted to be able to get herself to the casino. She achieved that goal.

Anderson’s recommendation for those unsure if they should consider home care is, “Think about if you’ve had any recent changes in your health - falls, increased clinic/hospital visits, a new diagnosis or medication we can educate you on, or you’re having difficulty doing day to day normal tasks. Just call and ask.”

This even includes less obvious stuff. There are clients that get some assistance with housework, but also have aides come to just play cards, socialize, and watch TV. Social interaction is a huge boost to mental health. Educating clients was the main goal of one success story. Prairie Waters had a client in their heart failure program. Heart failure is the number one cause of hospital re-admission. The man received daily visits to help teach him how to handle it. To this day, he hasn’t been re-admitted.

Crocker explained that one of the things she’s most proud of is “becoming a resource to the community. That could mean being a resource to resources, like caregiver groups or support groups, or more intense care when needed, navigating insurance and Medicare, or whatever the client needs... We have our Twin Cities branches, but with rural areas, we are able to reach those who may have never experienced being able to get help, and educating them that the help is there.”

Prairie Waters is hosting an open house December 18th from 1-5p.m.