For Brittney Braasch, home health is “the ultimate team sport” – and she has all the elements it takes to win.

Brittney Braasch loves to coach and play rugby in her free time. Anyone who knows rugby, and Brittney, probably wouldn’t be at all surprised. It’s a sport that requires a ton of grit, agility, 360-degree awareness of the playing field, and complete and utter dedication to the team – qualities Brittney has in spades and brings to her work every day.

Brittney is a registered nurse out of the Kindred at Home branch in Portland, Maine, a fast-changing, rapidly diversifying coastal city. After following a path to nursing blazed by other women in her family, Brittney was drawn to home health for the independence it allows, and the accountability that goes along with it. “It’s just you in a home with patients trying to figure things out and advocating for them and talking with their doctor.” Having a referral or a diagnosis on paper doesn’t tell you much about a patient, she points out, until you figure out how to speak their language. “You can’t walk in with a script and be successful.”

When asked to recall a particular moment when she felt she made a life-or-death difference for a patient, Brittney’s competitive nature becomes clear. “For me, the most satisfying thing is the patient where you walk in and they’re like, ‘You’re not going to teach me anything I don’t know.’ Winning those patients over and flipping the script and seeing them make the changes you recommended without them even knowing is a really great feeling.”

Being realistic about what you can achieve is just as important, she says. Brittney recently visited a long-standing patient who, despite every effort to change her ways, still smokes and eats more junk food than is good for her. Where others might get frustrated, Brittney stays focused and hopeful. “She’s come a long way as far as her diet. She is definitely a success story. But there are some things you’re just not going to change. You have to learn how to pick your battles and do what you can.”

According to Portland Branch Director Christopher Sylvia, Brittney’s winning ways come from not only being a strong clinician but bringing “a common-sense, down-to-Earth approach to her patients which they tend to appreciate, rather than the big-word medical expert jargon that can intimidate many patients.”

The pandemic tested the strengths and limits of every home health nurse, and Brittney was no exception. When the first wave hit Portland, she was asked to be the Crisis Response Clinician for the branch, a role she took on without a second thought. “A lot of the other nurses have kids so you don’t want them to be seeing all the COVID patients. I didn’t so was happy that it was me.” Whether in the midst of a pandemic or “normal” times, however, being able to rely on her team members means everything to Brittney. “All of our nurses, we’ve all been here for a pretty long time. I think that speaks a lot for the collaboration we have and the trust in each other that we have. You definitely can’t succeed alone. It’s the ultimate team sport.”