If you or a loved one is struggling with health problems which are making it difficult to live safely at home, you might think your only choice is to consider a retirement home or nursing home. This can be very a difficult decision, usually met with plenty of resistance, fear, and sadness. After all, who wants to move from the place where they feel most comfortable to a strange, institution-like environment?
If this situation seems familiar to you, there could be a better, safer, and more cost-effective option.
Home healthcare offers a wide range of services which provides many seniors with the support and reassurance they need to live safely at home. Clients can get the help they need and families feel relieved knowing loved ones are receiving excellent care.
Read on to find the answers to questions commonly asked about home healthcare and to discover whether it could be the right choice for you or your loved one.
What is Home Healthcare?
Home healthcare provides clients with the medical and supportive services they need in the comfort of their own home. Home healthcare comes in many different shapes and sizes and is completely tailored to the individual’s physical, mental and emotional needs. Services can include nursing care, therapy (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and massage therapy), social work and/or care provided by HHA/CNA (home health aide or certified nursing assistant). Depending on a client’s needs, support can be provided on a short-term (i.e. after surgery) or long-term basis.
Who is it for?
Home care is for anyone who requires help with personal care, mobility activities, toileting, light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, errands, transportation to appointments, respite care, and/or is in need of companionship. Although seniors make up a good portion of home healthcare clients, clients can be of any age and usually include those with chronic, palliative, or post-operative health concerns. Most often home health services are recommended for clients who are not coping well or are at risk in their home, or in cases where it would be very difficult or impossible for the client to go out to medical appointments (such as doctor office visits or outpatient therapy).
How Can You Access Home Healthcare? Your doctor may order home healthcare if you have a new or existing medical condition which could benefit from nursing, therapy or other home health services.
Here are just a few examples of when a doctor may order home healthcare:
• A client with a new diagnosis of diabetes may need education on checking blood sugars, new medications, keeping blood sugar reading logs or with insulin dosing. A client who already has diabetes may require support for a new medication or may need education on insulin use, diet and better food choices and/or the importance of compliance.
• A client may be given new medications for A-fib (atrial fibrillation) that requires lab draws to check bleeding times every few days until the client reaches a therapeutic level and maintains that level for a period of time.
• After orthopedic surgery, a client may require nursing for incision care and physical therapy to strengthen muscles and improve mobility. A home health aide may be utilized to assist the client with personal care until they are able to do it themselves.
• A client who is frail or has chronic health problems may be fearful of falling and need help to bathe and dress.
How Much Does Home Healthcare Cost?
• Medicare provides coverage for home health services when the clients meet certain requirements.
For Medicare to provide coverage the following must apply:
1. You must be under the care of a doctor
2. You must need one or more of the following services: nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, or ongoing occupational therapy
3. You must use an agency that is Medicare certified
4. You must be homebound (i.e. have difficulty leaving your home) with documentation from the doctor verifying the reasons why you are homebound
Homebound status includes the following:
1. It is medically contraindicated for the client to leave home.
2. It is difficult to leave home (requires walker/wheelchair, requires assistance of another person, special transportation).
3. It requires considerable effort for the client to leave home (shortness of breath on exertion, physically draining, significant pain with movement).
Homebound does not exclude the client from going to medical appointments, religious services, adult daycare or short infrequent non-medical outings.
• Private duty home health is another form of home health care.
Some clients choose private duty home health care so they can stay at home instead of going to a skilled nursing facility. Private duty care is not covered by Medicare. A client pays for private duty care themselves or they have a policy that covers long-term home health care services.
Private duty usually provides home health aide services and can be utilized as much or as little as the client needs. Hours can range from just a few hours a week to twenty-four hour a day care. It is very flexible and can be arranged for whatever the client requests. While HHA services covered under Medicare only cover personal client care, private duty HHA services can cover personal care and housekeeping services. In many cases, home healthcare is cheaper than relocating to a nursing facility.
Why choose Home healthcare?
Being able to receive much-needed care in the comfort of your own home at a more economical cost compared to office visits or skilled nursing facilities is why home healthcare is the obvious choice for many individuals and their families. Knowing personalized in-home care is being provided by trained and compassionate providers helps to reduce stress, prevent isolation, and improve the overall quality of life for many clients and their families.