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Elder health care is on the rise with the aging of the baby boomer generation. More adults are needing therapy while hospitals are staying the same size. One way to combat this need for care is home care. Home care is a great way to receive therapy (occupational, physical, or speech) in the comfort of one’s own home.
Opportunity for Change
Alaska faces many challenges when it comes to home care. Availability of providers in rural areas are scarce. Therapists do not regularly travel to small, off the grid villages for long stays. This care is often intermittent and irregular. This must be changed in order to allow sufficient care to all citizens of our great state.
This scarce source of therapists is also an issue in hub cities such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Barrow. There are not enough therapists available to help everyone needing therapy because therapy is need by people of all ages. There must be a solution found that brings therapists to the state of Alaska.
One area Alaska lacks in for home health care is a lack of policy outlining home care. Our state does not have a specifically written policy that states how home care should be administered and received. Establishing a policy would ensure care is universal accessible to all and that safety precautions are taken, specific to our state. We have many challenges that other states do not have which means we need a specific policy that outlines Alaska’s home therapy care (snow and ice, earthquakes, housing, culture, etc).
Policy Change
In order to make home therapy readily available and regulated in Alaska a policy must be proposed. As a health care community, the state must come up with the ways they want to regulate health care in the home. This policy should cover guidelines of how care should be administered, authorization of treatment, discontinuation of therapy, and regulations in reference to safety specific to the home and state.
In order to implement a new state policy, there must first be a need for a new or revised policy. Then, the information must be gathered about what the policy includes, who the policy will effect, how the policy will affect those people, as well as how will the policy affect the state.
When writing the policy there must be certain aspects that need to be included. There must be a purpose statement, specifications, implementation strategy, date of effect, and other necessary topics depending on the policy (SHRM, n.d.). Once the policy has been written, stakeholders must support the policy and communication must happen between the writers of the policy and stakeholders to ensure things are correct and understood. The policy is then revised and updated with any needed information. This re-written policy is then presented to state officials or whomever would be able to implement the new policy.
Secondly, there must be a change in graduate school prerequisites. Students who are pursuing medical or medical professional job should have to do a work study in the state they live in. That would allow students to work in smaller community, widening the number of available therapists in our state. With this introduction to smaller communities, some people may find a career in that location.
Adding this required work study to a program or University would take a similar policy implementation plan (as stated above) but on a smaller scale than a state as a whole. The information must be gathered that would support this new work study and how that would benefit the community. It would be revised after talking to stakeholders then presented to the board of directors, registrar’s office, and the dean.
Policies are not implemented over night. It will take a lot of time, many revisions, maybe even some no’s, but with solid information and stakeholder support, policy changes can and will happen in the future. As for home health care, it is a rather new and developing area of health care so new policy’s will go into effect over the coming years.
Strategy for Implementation
Implementing a new state policy for regulation of home therapy would affect not only therapists but also clients, hospitals, families, and the community. Once the policy is passed, there must a relatively large amount of time where therapists and those affected would be able to learn and understand the new policy. It takes time for people to adjust to new rules and regulations. It would be unethical to implement a policy and expect changes to made immediately.
Once the state policy is implemented, there must be an allotted time where people can give their feedback and communicate things that need to be changed. This will allow people to be heard and potential for policy revision.
As for the implementation of work study, adding a prerequisite to a program implements the program itself. A good way to introduce this into a program would be to implement it to a pilot program, a small group of students who can discuss their experience with the work study in rural Alaska. This, too, would allow students voices to be heard and allow any necessary changes.
Conclusion
Policy change or implementation can be a long and tedious process. Change is necessary not only for the safety of people but also for the progression of health fields, specifically. In order for change to occur in our state there must be changes in our policy in home health care as well as job opportunities through our state universities.

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