What is Home Health?

Family Caregiving | Home Health Info from Give a Care

Depending on the state of your loved one’s health and their insurance, home healthcare may be an option to assist you in caregiving. Home healthcare can include everything from nurse’s visits to your home, to those of home health aids, speech, physical and occupational therapists too. Typically Medicare and Medicaid cover some version of home healthcare, and other private insurance companies might provide coverage as well.

To receive home healthcare, a doctor must write an order for it, which is then sent to a local home health agency and they handle the paperwork and give you a call about setting up regular visits. (Side note: Home health isn’t a private caregiver coming in to help with feeding, cleaning, or shopping. It’s a family’s way to access medical care in the home via nurses, therapists and certified nursing assistants or aids. If you’re looking for a private caregiver, try sites like Care.com or CareSpotter.com). In the early years of Mom’s care, we saw her neurologist who wrote an order for physical therapy but never home healthcare. We didn’t even know it was an option back then.

One time Mom went into the hospital, however, and upon discharge her doctor there asked if we could use home healthcare to help deal with her bed sore and monitor her infection. We said, “absolutely!”. We have had home healthcare for a few years now and it’s fantastic. They have to “readmit’ mom every 60 days, which simply means refiling paperwork with Medicare, but now her GP writes an order as needed and we have a seamless way of keeping home health. This is why we appreciate home healthcare:

  1. Home health nurses are teachers: Home health is as much about teaching the family how to care for their loved one as it is about treating the patient. Nurses have taught us how to dress bed sores, the best ways for mom to eat and drink, how to administer IV antibiotics at home, what to do when Mom’s blood pressure is low, the list goes on. They are on call if you are concerned or have questions regarding your loved one, and they can do multiple visits a week as the care requires it.
  2. Home health aids can help with the basics: Bathing, feeding, changing diapers, going for walks . . . these basic day to day caregiving jobs can add up and home health aids are great at assisting with non-medical activities like these. Because Mom is on a strict schedule for eating, taking meds, napping and getting up every day, it was tough for us to find recurring help from home health aids that worked with our schedule – oftentimes they couldn’t come on the same day or time each week which meant moving activities around and trying to accommodate their schedule. That was too stressful and because of Mom’s special needs relating to her seizures, we still needed to be in the house with her, even if an aid was there.
  3. Access to supplies: Home health nurses are able to bring supplies from the home health office too sometimes – we have had nurses hook us up with wound care supplies, catheter kits, barrier creams, dressings, and more over the years that help offset the cost of having to buy many supplies out of pocket.
  4. Home healthcare nurses can perform tests in your home: The thought of spending an hour getting Mom ready, packing a bag with diapers, change of clothes, thickened water, meds, etc, carrying her to the car and making a big trip just to go get blood drawn got old, real fast! Home healthcare nurses have taken urine and stool samples, as well as blood draws, right from the convenience of Mom’s bed. It is a huge timesaver, and one of the biggest reasons we keep home healthcare.
  5. Advocates and case managers: With our home healthcare agency, we have an amazing case manager who knows Mom’s charts forwards and backwards. She advocates for Mom’s care, communicates with Mom’s doctors and pharmacy about orders and prescriptions, and makes sure we have coverage on nurses week to week. Some families might have a social worker or home health manager with comparable responsibilities. It’s always great for your loved one to have more people in their court advocating for their care!

Thanks for checking out the info and tips from Give a Care about home health. What is your experience with home health nurses or therapists?

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