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Different Types of Support Are Essential for Home Cancer Care, Says Susan Sabo-Wagner


Susan Sabo-Wagner, MSN, RN, OCN, executive director of clinical strategy for Oncology Consultants of Houston, Texas, talked about the importance of having adequate support not only from clinical staff, but also emotional and moral support at home.

Having support at home when faced with a cancer diagnosis is "critical", said Susan Sabo-Wagner, MSN, RN, OCN, executive director of Clinical Strategy for Oncology Consultants.


Can you speak to what makes for a successful at-home assessment, when people need care at home or support at home for cancer care, since so much care is moving back home?

Number one is to have someone who can support at home, be it a spouse, adult child, neighbor, or somebody. Even if you have a good home health care company or an aide that can go into the home, they can only be there however often their insurance will allow or even if they're paying privately, it is almost 100% necessary for at least somebody to be a caregiver. Of course, that depends on the patient [and] how well they do.

Even from a moral support or emotional support standpoint, it's really difficult to walk a full cancer diagnosis completely on your own without having someone that you can really depend on. There's definitely days where you don't feel well. My goodness, last week with my flu, I missed that I had somebody to feed my kids because there was a couple of days where I just couldn't. That's really what it's like for a cancer patient. There are days when you just can't, and it's either a physical feeling or it's an emotional feeling. To have somebody who can do those things, who can lift you up, that's critical.

Beyond that, we've made a lot of good connections with different companies throughout the city. We are in 12 locations in Houston for medical oncology, so we're all over the place. It's a big city with a lot of options, and we've been around and doing this for quite a long time. So, we know for the most part, who are the “good ones” and who we can really rely on. There's a lot of different insurance payers that we're dealing with; it's just as diverse within the payer market. So, this insurance company may not be able to have this particular home health, but we can work around in this way.

Our nurse navigators are very good about understanding because they both have worked in home health, as well. They understand how the insurance works, how home health works, how they can get the most benefit for each patient, how you write orders, and how you get things approved. They work very well with the home health companies that we’re mostly working with.

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