Home Health Care is healthcare or direct supportive care given by a skilled caregiver in the patient’s residential home, rather than care given in institution-based care such as nursing homes or clinics. Home healthcare is sometimes referred to as domiciliary care, primary care or social care. It is generally provided by licensed personnel in the same facility or by a home health care agency that does not provide hospital care, acute or outpatient hospital care or surgical services. Home health aides and companions are trained to assist patients with everyday activities, including: bathing, eating, exercising, transferring, climbing stairs, using the toilet, using the bedroom for sleeping or intimacy, and shopping for groceries or medication. In most cases, home health aides and companions are required to sign written agreements for services rendered and reimbursement for their services.
During the first visit, the patient’s medical history and any current illnesses are being assessed. The purpose of the first visit is to gather information that will be necessary for a referral to a licensed physician or other medical specialist. A history and physical examination will be taken, including the assessment of the patient’s mental status and functioning, and the health of the family members participating in the patient’s home health care. If the first visit reveals no serious illness, the patient will be scheduled for a follow-up visit with a nurse practitioner (NP), physician, or dentist, referred to as a specialty caregiver.
In many instances, a long-term nursing home facility is the best option for a patient suffering from a condition that may require specialized medical care or a period of rehabilitation. During the rehabilitation process, the patient is admitted into a hospital or other medical facility, given medication to help regain independence, and placed on a waiting list for other medical treatment. Home health care agencies can help a patient who has experienced this transition into the community by providing the necessary services to ensure that he or she is able to return to daily living without assistance. With services ranging from meal preparation to medication assistance, many home health care agencies offer services that provide comfort, but don’t leave the patient alone to wait on an impatient physician.
Many patients choose to continue to be treated at their current physician’s office for one or more reasons. Because visiting the physician often means an expense for families, patients often prefer to continue receiving medical care through their existing network of providers. While this may be desirable for some, it can mean a major dent in overall medical coverage if a patient leaves his current doctor’s office and visits another one. For these patients and their families, it is important to find out if a provider of home health care services covers home care assistance so that no one loses coverage when they are faced with a need to obtain care in the home.
In most instances, once a person has met all of the eligibility requirements of Medicare, he or she will be able to obtain coverage that allows homebound services to continue while they are recovering from a chronic illness or injury. In order to find out if this is the case for a particular patient, a representative from the medicare agency in question should be able to answer specific questions about their policies. A representative who works directly with a homebound patient can often make the situation more comfortable for both the family and the patient. However, there may be cases in which a patient continues to be denied the appropriate benefits because of a pre-existing condition. If this occurs, it is possible for a home health care aide to file an application to restore coverage.
Many individuals who suffer from certain chronic illnesses, or who have undergone surgery, may be considered high risk. Depending upon the type of illness, this risk factor could involve a physical impairment that could prevent the patient from returning to normal day-to-day activities. Some medical professionals classify their patients as requiring homebound services even if they cannot perform basic daily tasks. In the case of physical therapy, this may entail the use of a cane, walker, wheelchair, or other similar device. These individuals may also be medically underweight or have other physical problems that require intensive care on a daily basis.
However, many families prefer home health care professionals to provide assistance for their loved ones in these instances because they are not able to take care of their own medical needs. For example, if the physically disabled adult needs help walking around the neighborhood because of an injury, and cannot do so on their own, contacting a home health care professional could provide added benefits to the disabled adult. Not only could the family members receive added benefits, but the patient would be able to maintain the independence of life that is important to him or her.
It is also very common for some patients to suffer from a mental illness that interferes with their ability to function normally in the world. Sometimes, these individuals require assistance with daily personal activities, like bathing, eating, or getting dressed. When such medical services are delivered directly to the patient’s home, it can often make a world of difference for such an individual. For example, if the patient needs someone to drive him to work every day or assist with getting ready for work, instead of requiring the person to visit the nursing home, he or she would be able to maintain the independence of living independently. This added freedom may prevent the onset of additional illnesses or disability related to living alone.