Home Health Care Services
Home Health Care is Skilled Care at Home
At a basic level, "home health care" means medical care provided in a patient's home. Home health care includes a type of broad level of care given by skilled medical professionals, including physicians, skilled nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, licensed social worker, and certified nurse assistant.
Home health care helps patients and older adults live safely at home with medical conditions like acute chronic illnesses, terminal illnesses, post-surgical events, and short-term health needs. It's services offer a wide range of care which can delay the need for long-term nursing home care.
Home health care agencies vary tremendously in terms of what services they offer to clients. There are literally dozens of different services that a home health care agency can provide. The best agencies help a patient identify their needs and goals, and then create a care plan listing services that meet the needs. Below are some of the most common categories of services offered by home health care companies.
Home Health Care Services
Home health care and home care services may sound similar (home health care offers some of the same services provided by home care companies), home health care is medically inclined.
While home care typically includes chore and housecleaning services, home health care helps seniors and older adults recover from an illness or injury. The staff of working for home health care providers are (mostly) physicians, licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, licensed social workers, therapists, certified nurse assistants, and home health aides.
Home health agencies, like hospitals, require a state license to operate. Most states require that home health care agencies perform criminal background checks on their workers, the actual regulations vary depending on where you live.
Home Health Care Performs Medically Related Tasks
- Provides or assists with patient's personal care, including but not limited to: bathing, shampoo hair, oral hygiene, and general skin care. Assists patients with dressing or grooming. All care is consistent to "Plan of Care".
- Assists patients/clients with mobility and ambulation, with consistency to Plan of Care. Examples may include, transfers, assistance with walker use, etc.
- Prepares and serves meals, as appropriate, with consistency to the Plan of Care. May feed patients and/or provide fluids, as directed in the Plan of Care.
- Assists patients/client with toileting activities including, as appropriate: the use of a bedpan, commode, or toilet; or changing diapers. Takes and records oral, rectal and auxiliary temperatures, pulse and respiration and/or blood pressure.
- Turns and positions bed-bound patients, providing preventive skin care techniques including back-rubs and other measures.
- Performs a range of motion and other simple procedures as instructed by the therapist or nurse.
- Assists patient/client in the self-administration of medication. Home Health Aides do not administer medicine but assist the patient/client.
- Performs household tasks, as appropriate, with consistency to the Plan of Care, including but not limited to: changing bed linen, washing dishes, vacuuming and dust mop floors, dusting furniture, grocery shopping, emptying trash, etc.
- Reports observations in a timely manner to the RN Case Manager, to bring nursing attention to patient changes or other urgent needs. Documentation of observations and duties.
- Uses personal protective equipment when completing tasks where contact with blood or body fluids is a possibility. Involve patient/client in socialization or other diversion type activities, to promote mind and self-esteem enhancement.
RNs or LPNs provide more advanced skilled care, including:
- Skilled Nursing evaluations
- Observation & assessment
- Catheter Care
- Cardiac Rehabilitation
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Pre & Post Heart Transplant
- Inotropic Home IV Therapy
- Tracheostomy Care
- Wound care & dressings
- Wound Vac care
- Physical therapy
- Intravenous therapy
- Tube feedings & care
- Ostomy care & teaching
- Diabetic care & teaching
- Disease process education
- Post Stroke care
- Hypertension, congestive heart failure (CHF) & Emphysema (COPD) care
- Medication Management
- Family Counseling & Teaching
Depending on the needs of the client and the resources of the home health care agency, additional services may include:
- Medical Social Worker
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Hospice Care
- Chaplain Services
How to Obtain Home Health Care
The purpose of home health care is to treat an acute chronic illness, terminal sickness, an injury or post-surgery hospital or rehab event. Home health care helps patients heal, recover, reclaim independence, and become self-sufficient again.
According to Medicare.gov, if you get your Medicare benefits through a Medicare health plan, check with your plan to find out how it gives your Medicare-covered home health benefits.
If you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy or other health insurance coverage, tell your doctor or other health care provider so your bills get paid correctly.
If your doctor or referring health care provider decides you need home health care, they should give you a list of agencies that serve your area, but must tell you whether their organization has a financial interest in any agency listed.
Questions to Ask a Home Health Care Agency
When seeking home health care services, talk with friends, neighbors, and the local area agency on aging to learn about home health care agencies in your community. Here are questions to ask that help guide your search:
- How long has the agency been serving this community?
- Does the agency have any printed brochures describing the services it offers and how much they cost? If so, get one.
- Is the agency an approved Medicare provider?
- Is the quality of care certified by a national accrediting body such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
- Does the agency have a license to practice (if required in the state where you live)?
- Does the agency offer seniors a "Patients' Bill of Rights" that describes the rights and responsibilities of both the agency and the senior being cared for?
- Does the agency write a plan of care for the patient (with input from the patient, his or her doctor and family), and update the plan as necessary?
- How closely do supervisors oversee care to ensure quality?
- Are agency staff members available around the clock, seven days a week, if necessary?
- Does the agency have a nursing supervisor available to provide on-call assistance 24 hours a day?
- How does the agency ensure patient confidentiality?
- How are agency caregivers hired and trained?
- What is the procedure for resolving problems when they occur, and who can I call with questions or complaints?
- Is there a sliding fee schedule based on ability to pay, and is financial assistance available to pay for services?
- Will the agency provide a list of references for its caregivers?
- Who does the agency call if the home health care worker cannot come when scheduled?
- What are the types of employee screening?
After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.
- What is Home Care?
- Home Health Care vs. Non-Medical Home Care
- Home Health Care Services
- Non-Medical Home Care Services
- How is Home Care Different from Other Care Options?
- When is Home Care Needed?
- Benefits of Home Care
- Talking to a Loved One
- Selecting a Home Care Agency
- Medicare Quality Data
- Hospice Care
- Home Care Safety
- Considering Home Care Staff
- Home Health Care Costs
- Ways to Pay for Home Care
- Medicare and Home Care
- Medicaid and Home Care
- Does Insurance Cover Home Care
- Using a Reverse Mortgage to Stay Home