Supportive Assistance for Elders

HomeSafe Locates At UI's Technology Innovation Center

Assistance program will expand statewide

Nursing program expands

UI nursing college launches business venture

HomeSafe Locates At UI's Technology Innovation Center

 Meridean Maas, Ph.D. At its meeting Dec. 15-16, the Board of Regents, State of Iowa approved a lease for J & M Associates, LCC as the newest tenant of the University of Iowa's Technology Innovation Center (TIC). The company, doing business as HomeSafe, provides a nursing and case-management service, providing support for older persons to live independently and longer in their own homes.

J& M Associates/HomeSafe is owned and operated by Meridean Maas, Ph.D., R.N., and Janet Specht, Ph.D., R.N., an associate professor in the UI College of Nursing. Both have many years of experience in long-term care nursing as a clinicians, administrators and academics. Maas is currently the principal investigator and director of the John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence in the UI College of Nursing, one of five funded Centers of Excellence in the United States. The coordinator of HomeSafe is Cathy Tholen.

HomeSafe was established to translate nursing research and evidence to address a gap in elder health care and support service. The business employs several part-time registered nurse (RN) case-managers, nursing assistants who are often College of Nursing students, a part-time accounts manager and a full-time coordinator/manager. For a fee, elders and their families subscribe to four levels of case-managed care and services based on the elder's needs. HomeSafe clients are assigned a nurse manager, who makes routine visits as well as phone consultations with the client and family members. The frequency of the visits and phone calls depends on the level of service the client requests.

 Janet Specht, Ph.D., R.N. According to Specht and Maas, there is a great demand for nursing services among older people living in their own homes. Services that emphasize health and safety assessment, health promotion, prevention of acute illnesses and disabilities and chronic disease management for seniors are limited, and are sometimes compromised by limited, fragmented and under-coordinated in-home services. The result is that many elders relocate to nursing homes since no other option is available to them.

The success of HomeSafe's nurse case management and support service was documented with its first clients. Of the 40 HomeSafe clients who were in crisis situations and close to being sent to nursing homes, only six entered a nursing facility. Home stays were extended an average of six months with an average per client cost savings of $12,000 compared to nursing home costs. The clients also increased their self-care, treatment adherence and social activities. Family caregiver stress was reduced, and family member satisfaction was increased, according to Specht and Maas.

HomeSafe will have a one-year lease for office space in Suite 206 in the TIC effective Jan. 1.

HomeSafe will become the 18th company in the TIC. Since 1984, 87 new ventures have been admitted to the TIC and 29 companies are considered "graduates" having succeeded in meeting their business goals upon leaving TIC. TIC tenant and "graduate" companies in Iowa currently have 640 employees in Iowa.

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Assistance program will expand statewide

UI News Service

HomeSafe, an assistance program for elders that is supported by the University of Iowa College of Nursing and University Hospitals department of nursing, now will offer its services statewide.

Barbara Kyles, nurse coordinator and manager of HomeSafe, said the program, which originally was designed for the Iowa City area, now will provide home visits to clients all over Iowa.

“We found that Iowa City residents had family members in other Iowa communities that would benefit from the program,” Kyles said.

In order to orient new nurses outside Iowa City to the HomeSafe program, Kyles said they would hire alumni of the UI College of Nursing, retired UI nurses and others with the proper experience.

HomeSafe is a nurse-managed health service plan for older adults living at home, in senior housing or in residential care facilities. The program began in August 2000 and is the first program funded by the University of Iowa Nursing Enterprise, an initiative of the UI College of Nursing and University Hospitals department of nursing.

Each HomeSafe client is assigned a nurse manager, who makes routine visits as well as phone consultations with the client and family members. The frequency of the visits and phone calls depends on the level of service the client requests.

For an annual fee, a client can purchase one of four different levels of the HomeSafe program. Services include assistance with medications, transportation or help obtaining community services

“This program was set up not only to provide services to the elderly, but to actually enhance their quality of life,” Kyles said. “Often, older adults lose contact with the community. This program helps look at the activities they enjoy and offers assistance in continuing.”

Those interested in the HomeSafe program and its services can visit the program’s website at: or contact Barb Kyles at 319-335-7123 or to schedule a free consultation.

Article appeared in Press Citizen March 17, 2001. Reprinted with the approval of Iowa City Press Citizen.

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Nursing program expands

Despite a growing shortage of nurses, the U of I will take its elderly HomeSafe service statewide.

By Colleen Krantz

Iowa City, IA.—A shortage of nurses could hamper plans by the University of Iowa to expand a program that bring nurses into the homes of senior citizens.

The U of I wants to make HomeSafe, a service used by a handful of residents in Johnson County since it was created in the fall, available statewide.

It is too early to tell if a predicted shortage of nurses will hurt the effort, because organizers cannot gauge the potential demand for service, said Barbara Kyles, manager of HomeSafe.

“We are hoping we can tap people who aren’t currently working,” she said.

Senior citizens who sign up for HomeSafe pay an annual fee ranging from $750 to $1,950 for regular home visits. For an additional amount, nurses’ assistants will help with jobs around the home, arrange social outings or give baths, Kyles said.

“A big reason for this is there are a lot of elderly people whose family don’t live in the same area,” Kyles said. “They can become really isolated once they start having trouble getting out.”

After hearing from people who wanted HomeSafe services for elderly parents in communities outside Johnson County, the sponsoring College of Nursing and University Hospitals department of nursing decided to expand.

Linda Goeldner, executive director of the Iowa Nurses Association, said the shortage isn't too severe now, but the situation is expected to get worse.

“We think this will be a different kind of shortage because of the aging population, and then people aren’t going into nursing as much,” Goeldner said. “It’s somewhat of a problem now but it’ll be a huge problem in 10 years.”

Next week, the nurses association will release the results of a survey of 1,300 health-care agencies concerning nursing needs.

HomeSafe could be on the right track by targeting retired nurses, Goeldner said.

HomeSafe will send a letter about the program to nearly 3,500 alumni of the College of Nursing who live in Iowa, hoping some will be looking for a part-time job, Kyles said.

“There are a lot of nurses out there who don’t want to work full time,” Kyles said. “This is just more flexible and plus they would be helping people in their community.”

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UI nursing college launches business venture

Subscription services offer health services to elderly

By Jim Jacobson, Gazette staff writer

Home Safe nurse coordinator Barbara Kyles (left) and Janet Specht, chairwoman of the board of directors for HomeSafe, stand at the office at the University of Iowa Nursing Building in Iowa City. The University of Iowa College of Nursing's first entrepreneurial venture is a case management subscription service that provides health-related services to elderly people who live in their own homes but who want or need some extra help.


Iowa City, IA— The University of Iowa College of Nursing has launched its first entrepreneurial venture under the new faculty practice plan.

Called Home Safe, the company provides health-related services to elderly people who live in their own homes but want or need some extra help.

The firm is a case management subscription service, explained Janet Specht, an associate professor of adult and gerontology nursing.

Specht is one of the founders of the company and is chairwoman of the board.

She said she and colleagues from the department of nursing at University Hospitals joined forces to find a way to improve care of the elderly in and around Iowa City as well as improve their daily lives.

"We happen to think that nurses have a lot to bring to bear on this," she said.

While services are primarily aimed at elderly people living at home, they can be delivered to people living in senior housing or residential care facilities if patients or their families want them delivered.

In addition, Home Safe offers customized services that can include more frequent visits, grocery shopping, and diagnosis and treatment of minor illnesses.

All clients have 24-hour-a-day telephone access to a nurse as part of the service.

Home Safe

Home Safe requires the clients pay an annual fee for the type of service they select. Fees depend on the levels of service the clients or their families choose.

Prices start at $750 a year for level 1 service, which includes a health and social assessment, annual health screening, and assistance with Medicare or Medicaid forms and processing.

Level 4 costs $1,950 a year and includes weekly telephone contacts with the patient and biweekly in- person visits, help with physical therapy and recreational activities with the clients.


Getting this business off the ground took almost two years of planning as well as a $30,000 no-interest loan from the UI's Collaboratory. It began officially operating last month.

The process began with giving questionnaires to area seniors to find out what kinds of services they would like to have.

What Specht and the others discovered was that there was a range of needs in the community.

Some seniors said they would like to have help to ensure that they take their medications correctly. Others indicated they wanted personalized health promotion programs. Unlike traditional home nursing services that deal mostly with acute care situations, "Home Safe is more focused on whole life;" she said.

Clients can get medical advice or a nurse to inspect a house for places and obstacles that might be dangerous.

They could receive help with bills or help accessing other services available in the community.

In addition, Home Safe doesn't require a doctor's order to receive assistance as some home nursing services do.

Specht said she doesn't see Home Safe as a competitor to other home health care providers because the market presents so many opportunities for both. "We think there are plenty of unmet needs for all of us."

Holly Gray's mother was the first client for Home Safe.

Gray, who lives in San Diego, was finding it increasingly difficult to deal with her mother's worsening Alzheimer's disease from so far away.

"I just wanted her to stay at home…but we were concerned about finances," Gray said.

She found out about Home Safe from Specht, who also co-owns and operated Liberty Country Living in North Liberty. Gray's mother had been attending day care at the facility.

One of the most important services Home Safe provided was company for her mother, Gray said. "Her isolation was a real issue here."

Unlike another home health care service she tried, Home Safe sent the same person each time, Gray explained.

That helped her mother who was losing her memory because of the disease. "I saw a change in my mom because of that."

Gray's mother has since moved into Liberty Country Living, but she said that Home Safe provided a good interim service and allowed her mother to stay in her home as long as possible.

At this point, Home Safe only has one client, but Barb Kyles is excited about the possibilities.

Kyles, a nurse with a master's in business administration, runs the day-to-day operations of the company.

"I'm looking forward to getting more clients and developing the program," she said.

Mixing business and nursing is a relatively new concept, but one that the UI's college of nursing has embraced.

It recently hired someone to head up its faculty practice plan, which is designed to help the nursing faculty think like entrepreneurs in an attempt to benefit themselves and the college.

"I think it's very important to nursing," Specht said of infusing the profession with entrepreneurial spirit.

The money the business ventures, like Home Safe, generate will not only go to help pay the faculty member's salaries- in much the same way College of Medicine faculty members pay part of their salaries through time they spend seeing patients- but will also help cover research, equipment and travel expenses.

In addition to the revenue generating possibilities of ventures like Home Safe, Specht said it provides opportunities for students to learn new skills and faculty members to maintain their skills.

Holly Gray anticipates Home Safe will be a success.

She sees it filling an important niche in the market for people like her who are taking care of aging parents.

"I certainly see a need for it," she said.

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