Health Care At Home

| Thursday, May 10, 2012
By Laura Bonson

This article is designed to help you to better understand home health care. Topics we will cover include how this type of care differs from other home care services, the types of assistance provided, who provides these services, and how care is typically funded. Hopefully this information will be useful in expanding your knowledge of this important field.

Health or supportive care provided at a patient's place of residence by trained healthcare personnel is generally referred to as home health care. General home care or custodial care is any in-home care not provided by skilled health professionals. Skilled providers of home health services include licensed practical and registered nurses (LPNs and RNs), home care aides, physical or occupational therapists, mental health and social workers, among others. For many patients, at-home care can be less costly and burdensome than having to stay in or make visits to hospitals or skilled nursing facilities.

Not having to regularly visit or have extended stays in medical or nursing facilities for care may help patients achieve a certain level of comfort and freedom in their care. Home health care may also be an option for patients who require recovery or rehab from hospitalization or medical procedures, but are otherwise ready for discharge.

Some of the areas of service that a in-home health professional may provide include help with basic daily living tasks such as help getting in and out of bed, using the bathroom, shopping, or transportation. Other skilled tasks include help with medications and injections, wound care, pain assessment and management, and physical therapy to name a few.

Orders from a doctor are usually required to be eligible for home health care. An appointment with a home health agent will be scheduled, in most cases at the home of the patient, where the patient will be asked questions and any potential issues will be checked for. Some of the information this agent will seek includes what you are eating and drinking, check any medications or treatments you are on and their proper useage, the safety of your residence, questions about pain you may be experiencing, and checks of your vital signs. This person will also be responsible for monitoring and informing your physician of your care and progress.

Your doctor or health care provider should give you a list of home health agencies that serve the area in which you live, should you need these services. If there is a financial interest between your medical provider and any of these agencies, your medical provider must tell you this when discussing your options.

Often, Medicare or Medicaid covers home health services, though there are rules governing who applies. For example, Medicare mandates that patients be "homebound" and that any home health care provider used be Medicare approved. Occupational, VA, or other private insurance may also pick up the bill, or in some cases, patients or their families themselves may be require to pay for these expenses.

Also, not all home health services offer the same services or conduct their operations the same way. It is crucial to select the service that you feel best serves you needs, and it is highly advised that you take any inquiries or issues you may have in making your choice to your doctor or health care provider. This is the best way to ensure you are making the best possible decisions on your home health care.

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