There is a serious health gap that has been overlooked by some doctors, insurance companies and sometimes even patients themselves: care for the elderly.
Heather Wilson is on a mission to fix this.
Heather Wilson RN, CFCS founder / owner of Everyday Divinity and Foot And Nail Institute, first started her foot care business for the elderly in 2011 to provide services such as nail trimming and corn and corn reduction. At the time, she was working as a head nurse in the Department of Vascular Thoracic Surgery (VTS) in Ohio, where she first saw the need for foot care services.
“The elderly were forced to seek help from family members or salons,” Wilson said. “It was during this time that I saw the influx of lower limb infections that we were treating in my ward. These infections are a direct result of improper or lack of safe, appropriate foot care services. The elderly had limited resources for foot care services and nurses were the obvious solution.
From there, a successful business was born and now Wilson teaches what she has taught other nurses.
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Wilson told Nurse.org that she was first inspired to become a nurse when she saw that her grandfather had suffered a very bad blow when she was in second grade. She explained that one night her grandfather, a hard-working veteran, had been deprived of his ability to take care of himself, and Wilson explained that he had become “very verbal and controversial at times” as a result.
But the nurses who cared for him demonstrated the “power of good nursing,” responding to him while providing medical care to contribute to his overall health. “In my eyes, these nurses were powerful angels,” she said. “They could support themselves while providing the medical care and attention they needed. I think the breastfeeding seed was planted then. ”
Wilson explains that just as she saw the need for her grandfather to receive qualified nurses in his later years, caring for the elderly is another area that is both necessary and often overlooked.
“With age, the ability to provide our own foot care becomes more difficult due to impaired vision, lack of dexterity and simply inability to reach,” she explains. “The changes that occur in our feet, nails and skin can contribute to our inability to take care of our own feet. You don’t realize it’s a problem until you can trim your nails.
In addition, foot care is an important part of the overall health of the elderly. “If safe foot care services are not provided to our aging demographic, then we are seeing lower limb infections,” she added. Leg infections can lead to serious complications such as osteomyelitis, amputations and even death. Even seemingly insignificant things like corn and thickened nails can lead to improper gait, risk of falling and reduced mobility.
Despite the importance of foot care for the elderly, Wilson points out that nurses are not always trained to provide foot care services in nursing school. In addition, as insurance regulations have changed, pediatricians do not offer foot care services as before, leaving many older people without access to services.
And here come the nurses. Wilson explains that most nursing councils do not have established foot care policies, which means that nurses can legally provide foot care services as individual business owners. While Wilson says she would like to see established standards and practices in all state councils defining the role of the nurse in foot care, nurses are currently the ideal solution to fill this gap in the health care system.
Nurses can provide
- Overall assessment of the legs
- Nail filing
- Reduction of corn and callus
The services can be provided on an individual basis at home or through foot clinics that take place in third-party facilities such as centers for the elderly, community centers, life support facilities, doctors’ offices, churches and small private pharmacies.
“As foot care nurses, we are at the forefront of the elderly in our communities,” she explains. “We may be the first set of eyes in healthcare to see a patient’s legs for the first time in years. This is very important, especially when we find a wound that needs to be treated further by a qualified healthcare provider, such as a wound clinic. We are a great resource when it comes to providing education related to all things foot care. ”
Wilson launched her foot care services, Everyday Divinity in 2011, a privately paid business model, so she had no idea if it would really be successful. But word of mouth spread even faster than she expected. Patients from other states soon called.
“I knew then that the lack of foot care services was a health problem affecting our older people nationwide,” she said. After successfully serving 24 different markets in Ohio, where he initially started, Wilson decided it was time to duplicate his business model so other nurses could enter their own markets. “It seemed like the decision to give back to the nurses the authority I feel has been deprived over the years,” she explains. “It was a victory for nurses as well as for the elderly.”
For nurses, from nurses
Just as Wilson’s slogan, her second business, describes, the Foot and Nail Institute (FNI) provides foot care and business training for nurses.
“It was important for me to be able to provide mentoring to the nurses who are part of our program,” she explains. “Starting a business can be daunting and overwhelming for any nurse. As nurses, business ownership is not in our wheelhouse, but we are equipped with so many of the features and traits needed to run a successful business. ”
FNI works by providing an online course for nurses who want to start their own foot care business. The course consists of three modules for training nurses on how to start, manage and develop their own foot care business:
- The foot care business
- The practice of foot care
- The foot care community
FNI also provides hands-on training, website building / hosting, webinar meetings, a community membership, and a private social media app that allows nurses support along the way. “Nurses will never feel alone as they follow the path of nursing entrepreneurs,” she explains.
Just as her original business served the need almost immediately, FNI also proved to be a necessary service. FNI has officially helped nurses in more than 25 states start their own foot care business and consulted with thousands of nurses nationwide.
The FNI can also get a nurse to run her own business very quickly – Wilson even notes that she has seen nurses start a business in less than four weeks. Factors from what the nurse is currently doing, to the financial means to their own goals, all play a role, but Wilson explains that at the end of the day, the beauty of being a business owner means being the best boss.
“I am the portal that leads you along the way,” she says. “The result is in the hands of the owner of the nurses.”
Wilson is passionate about his business because he believes he gives nurses the opportunity to provide the services they need to their patients as they fight the burnout that so many nurses face, and instead build a successful, financially secure life.
For example, Wilson explains that she has personally tripled her income from breastfeeding while working in just four, five-hour days, and that owning your foot care business offers the potential for “unlimited income.” However, she also adds that how much you actually earn depends on many different factors, such as the market you work in, how many hours you want to work, what services you provide and competition.
In addition, Wilson believes that the foot care business provides nurses with the opportunity to build a healthy lifestyle with a full career.
“I started a business for a better overall lifestyle,” she explains, adding that it was important for her to be home before and after her son’s school day. Taking a two-week break in December and working 5 hours, 4 days a week without nights, weekends or holidays equals success for her.
“If there is a snowy day or illness with my child, I reschedule the clinic – it’s that simple,” she added. “Taking care of my feet provided me with a lifestyle that I loved while working with people I adored! Providing care for the elderly cured me of the burn I suffered at the bedside. ”
Whether caring for their feet is in the future or not, Wilson encourages all nurses looking for more to consider exploring all of their career options. “I want nurses to know that there is power in their nurse, regardless of their background,” she said. “He has a happy life beyond the bed as a business owner for nurses. I invite nurses to explore all the options available outside of bed as business nursing owners.
Images provided courtesy of Heather Wilson