Virtual Legislative Home Visit Shows the Power of Keeping Families Together

Published On: April 7, 2022

North Carolina residents Anita and Norman Sutton have been married now for more than 30 years. The pair, who have known each other since they were teenagers, recently celebrated Anita’s 60th birthday together. At an early age, Anita was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy ─ a progressive condition that leads to the weakening and deterioration of muscles ─ and she now is now bed-bound and paralyzed, relying on high-quality nursing care to receive her nutrition through a feeding tube and to maintain her breathing through a tracheostomy and a ventilator. Most medically fragile individuals like Anita would be placed in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) due to the complexity of her diagnoses. However, home care allows Anita to remain in the comfort of her home, alongside her husband Norman while still receiving the same level of nursing care.

Sharing their story

Recently, the Sutton’s virtually invited North Carolina State Senator, Vickie Sawyer into their home to paint a picture showing just how valuable home health care is to their lives. During their visit with Sen. Sawyer, Norman explained that without the skilled nursing Anita receives through the State’s Medicaid Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program, Anita would be separated from Norman and her family and would be forced into facility-based care ─ missing out on key family milestones, like her son’s wedding and her 60th birthday! But thanks to the person-centered, individualized care provided by in-home nurses, Anita has been able to avoid risky complications that would require hospitalization like pneumonia.

Norman noted, “Anita’s nurses know her well and can identify and act quickly when something might be wrong. That type of care would simply not be given somewhere like nursing homes.”

North Carolina resident, Norman Sutton.

In addition to showing the value of home care, Norman shared the challenges they face when there are not enough nurses to fill all the hours Anita is authorized to receive care.

Norman explained to Sen. Sawyer, When we don’t have a nurse, I am often up all-night taking care of Anita, making sure her airway remains open and suctioning her tracheostomy to avoid any complications. Not having a nurse is incredibly taxing on my own health and puts Anita’s health at risk as well.”

You see, Anita is not the only one with a serious medical condition ─ Norman lives with Cerebral Palsy (CP) and must take care of his own medical needs as well.

A moving experience

By the end of the visit, there was no doubt that the Sutton’s touching story helped accurately illustrate the daily realities of home care. Through sickness and in health, this couple showed that despite the difficulties life has thrown them, they were defying odds and remaining together with the help of the lifesaving, in-home nursing care. Sen. Sawyer seemed moved by the experience, asking many questions about the process families must go through when seeking care and how these programs are funded, proving that many times, advocacy is just that ─ educating the legislator, key decision maker, or public on the nuances of the home care industry.  

By opening their home and sharing their story, Anita and Norman may have moved the needle by showing the power of keeping families safe, cared for, and together ─ at home. Effective advocacy can be as simple as that.

“I applaud Norman, Anita, and families like theirs across the state for sharing their voice and experiences. Home care keeps families together, ensuring our most vulnerable are safely cared for alongside their loved ones — we must do all we can to ensure access to these critical services.”

– North Carolina Senator, Vickie Sawyer




Advocacy Matters!

Despite the fact that many people in government and regulatory positions agree that home health care is a cost-effective, patient-preferred solution, it continues to be prioritized below institutional care. Not investing in home care will decrease the supply of qualified workers, increase turnover, and compromise the quality of home care services. At Hearts for Home Care, we help those that care about home care by enabling YOU to get involved at the capacity in which you’re able to do so.

Email us at [email protected] or visit our website  in order to learn more about the home care advocacy community and find opportunities to get involved.


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