Finding Heart in Home Health Care

Picture even a minor accident: Perhaps your bicycle slips on the ice. You’ve dislocated your elbow and broken your hand in the fall. You can still walk, drive an automatic car, and type at your computer left-handed. But can you pull a shirt over your head? Or floss your teeth? How will you cut vegetables at dinner, or wash the dishes? Who will walk the dog?

Losing your independence through the loss of skills you rely upon is physically and emotionally challenging. This is where home health care can step into help. Yet, who do you trust to come into your home, into your family, to take care of you? Will they have compassion and respect?

With decades in “the trenches” of healthcare, Heather Craven says she has shared clients’ most challenging and vulnerable moments.

“I saw the spectrum,” she says, point blank. “Some wonderful situations, unsafe situations. I saw the loneliness, the vulnerability. I saw the delayed care in the larger nursing homes because they were so big, so many residents. The family not able to be there, the pain, the guilt, you name it. Sometimes just the neglect.”

Through life experiences, Craven discovered she was meant to be a caregiver. She has had a lifelong, deep desire to provide genuine care.

Her son Devon was born with a heart defect. “We were quarantined. Two years later my father died. Three years later, my husband had a massive stroke at the age of 39. Navigating a brain injury,” she sighs. “I saw him in the hospital, completely vulnerable, not able to eat, to even verbally express himself. When they transferred him, I went to be with him for 10 days. He couldn’t even take notes. I remember this from Devon being in the hospital—being so ‘deer in the headlights.’ You’re absorbing one percent of what doctors are saying because you’re thinking, ‘my kid’s on a ventilator,’” Craven recalls.

In searching for care for her husband, she could not find the level of quality she herself gave. This inspired Craven to act on her dream: home health care rooted in grace, dignity, and respect.

“I have a personal stake in it. My mother is 76— today,” she says, lighting up at the realization during a recent interview.

And thus, Here to There Home Health Care (HTHHC) was born, to promote “optimal healing and companionship” for clients and their families, which is the same care she wants for her own family. Most importantly, she’s building her company with staff who are the kind of human beings you want to welcome into your home, caregivers who feel like a part of your family.

HTHHC implements a comprehensive training program for their certified nursing assistants and licensed caregivers. Whether it’s care techniques for clients with cognitive impairments, moving and transporting those with acute and chronic physical disabilities, or monitoring and enhancing the emotional state of clients, peace of mind and wellbeing are paramount.

Post-operative care in the first 72 hours after a hospital stay can be the most intense. HTHHC focuses on details so clients can rest and heal. Nutrition, socialization, and assistance with physical movement are all important—but so is the relationship, the trust, and care between client and caregiver.

“When that client reaches out to touch my arm, or puts their head on my shoulder, and laughs…when they know we’re safe, nurturing, that it’s going to be a good thing, that’s a genuine connection,” Craven says.

Companion care is equally important to her.

HTHHC caregivers honor the individual natures of their clients, recognizing the unique physical, mental, and emotional needs of each. They assist with household administration and the daily activities of life, including social schedules, appointments, errands, and shopping: the day-to-day rituals and routines that keep clients connected to the life they’ve created. Additional medical training endows caregivers with the skills necessary to recognize and understand the different stages of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and other age-related cognitive issues as they may arise.

“I see all of my mom’s friends that I grew up with; they’re getting older,” Craven, a valley native, says. “This is a beautiful, enriched population with so much to give and so much to share. ‘Warehousing’ people in need is not an option.”

In rising to meet life, Craven has achieved an elegant balance of grit and grace that she applies to what she loves: the business and privilege of being present for other human beings in times of need.