Schofield Care Trains, Equips Community to Tackle Opioid Epidemic

Schofield Care provides free training for staff and public on the use of lifesaving emergency naloxone spray

November 2016 | As the opioid crisis grips communities in Western New York and throughout the nation, a local provider of home care, nursing and residential care services has taken on a major community outreach effort to educate, train and equip its direct-care staff – as well as the public – on use of lifesaving Narcan spray kits that can save lives. 

Narcan is an FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. It knocks the opiate receptors in the brain, and it can be safely administered by a layperson with minimal training: Narcan does not have an effect on a person who has not taken opioids. If a drug overdose is suspected, protocols call for administering Narcan and immediately contacting emergency medical services.

“Our home care agency is proud to partner with Erie County to help deliver opioid education and Narcan training to individuals in our community,” said Schofield RN Colleen Osborn, the organization’s Director of Home Care Operations. “We offer free-of-charge programs, open to the public, and people who attend leave with samples of Narcan to help our community combat the ever-growing opioid addiction crisis.”

Schofield has also trained all of its staff on Narcan, equipping them with the kits as they conduct home care visits. “The training has become part of Schofield’s home health aide courses regardless of whether the individual chooses to work for Schofield or takes their training elsewhere, and our nursing staff is similarly equipped with training and Narcan supplies,” Osborn added. “Every person we touch has the ability to positively impact this crisis.”

Kenmore-based Schofield Care provides a continuum of services, from home care to rehabilitation, adult day health care, and skilled nursing. In this role, it has extensive reach into the lives of hundreds of vulnerable individuals living at home and in other settings, where they might be in the throes of an opioid overdose – or at risk of one. This makes Schofield Care an especially powerful resource for the deployment of life-saving interventions, including medical help for individuals experiencing heroin or opioid overdoses.

Many communities are grappling with how to handle the opioid epidemic. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record, and the majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involved an opioid.

“Home care staff have routine, sometimes daily, access to hundreds of patients living at home. Some of these individuals may be living in an environment where a family member is abusing drugs. Our team of caregivers is trained to conduct social and environmental assessments, in addition to providing medical or assistive care, so that patients and families get the treatment they need,” Osborn said.

“People are often shocked to learn that the population of overdoses in our area is suburban, 40-year-old males, who are the primary bread winner of a family,” she added. “Helping train our community will only increase awareness and save lives, a mission Schofield supports.”

So far Osborn estimates that Schofield has trained more than 200 people to administer the easy-to-use Narcan spray kits, supplied by state and local governments. Dozens of Schofield’s staff now carry Narcan with them on visits to patients’ homes where they might witness a drug overdose or the signs of drug use. The Schofield team has even extended its training to nursing students, a local school board, and others interested in learning how they can help, all at no charge and as part of Schofield’s community service mission.

To learn about upcoming Narcan trainings, call Colleen Osborn at Schofield Home Health Care (716-874-2600) or Erie County Health Department (716-858-7695).