What Kind of Services Do Home Health Care Agencies Provide If You Have Medicare?
After the hospital stay, a patient may be doing well enough to return home. However, the patient may not be completely ready to take on life as it was before illness or injury.
Home healthcare comes into play when a patient discharges home, but who still requires help and further recovery time in order to function as safely and independently as possible.
In this article, we have broken down what types of services home healthcare agencies typically provide along with brief descriptions of each service.
Not every patient will require all services because every individual’s road to recovery varies in length and in potential obstacles.
If and when the time does come to participate in home healthcare, it’s helpful for first-time clients to familiarize themselves with all services available to them:
Registered Nursing (RN) staff come into the home to provide professional duties similarly to that in a hospital or an outpatient setting: medication administration and management, IV placements, catheter placements, vitals monitoring, and all other medical procedures, interventions, and tests approved and supervised by the primary physician.
CNA/home health aides:
Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) work under the supervision of registered nurses and can provide non-medical, routine tasks that assist the client at home.
Such tasks include ADLs (activities of daily living) like showering, dressing, toileting, feeding, and hygiene tasks.
CNAs are also trained to perform transfers such as helping clients get from the bed to the wheelchair safely. Some CNAs and home health aides may also assist with basic housecleaning tasks.
This includes occupational, physical, and speech therapy services.
Each therapy discipline will come into the home, as ordered by the primary physician, and perform evaluations to see if the client would benefit from therapy intervention.
Each therapy discipline specializes in multiple areas: occupational therapy for improving participation in activities of daily living (ADLs), physical therapy for leg strengthening and walking, and speech therapy for speech production.
These are all very, over-simplified explanations of each therapy as they all provide so much more.
In home doctor visits:
As part of the home health plan-of-care, primary physicians may make in-home visits on occasion.
Since it is the primary physician who oversees and refers the majority of services, it is essential that he/she visit the client to review and adjust the plan-of-care over time and whenever necessary to gain progress in recovery.
Some clients who get admitted to the hospital have breathing concerns and medical conditions such as respiratory failure, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or other diseases of the lungs.
When they discharge home, they may need additional respiratory care services at home. This includes oxygen supplements, CPAPs/BiPAPs, tracheotomy care, and ventilator care.
Operating breathing equipment and conducting regular breathing treatments are performed by respiratory therapists who can come into the home to provide intervention.
Social workers or case managers may also be referred to come to the home. Their job is to make sure that the client (and caregivers) feels safe and can provide for their needs in the home on a long-term basis.
While the doctor is the main individual to refer services, the social worker acts as a coordinator of services to make sure the client is receiving full quality care.
They can also provide resources to clients and caregivers for additional community and medical support.
For some clients receiving home healthcare, going out and running errands to the pharmacy is just not an option.
This is especially true for clients who don’t have caregivers or family members living close by who can run the errands for them.
That’s where home health pharmaceutical services come into play. Medication can be dropped off at the home on a regular basis.
For clients who are immobile or cognitively unfit to safely drive (or have no family to provide assistance), transportation can be provided.
Transportation services commonly help with getting clients to necessary medical appointments.
Labs and X-ray services:
Blood tests and x-ray services can be brought to the home.
This is especially important for patients who need consistent and close monitoring as they progress through their recovery.
However, primary physicians may also order these tests of symptoms are out of the ordinary or not obviously related to current diagnoses.
Home healthcare agencies may coordinate with students or other non-paid persons who are interested in volunteering their time to assist clients in the home.
Their responsibilities are extremely limited due to the lack of education and certifications.
In fact, many agencies don’t allow volunteers to even physically touch clients. Thus, volunteers are primarily there to assist with rote tasks (i.e. cleaning) and to provide clients with appropriate companionship and emotional support.
Nutritional and at-home meal care:
Dietitians may set up a consult with clients in order to ensure that their daily diet is well-managed and overall healthy.
This is beneficial for persons whose diets may be out of control and contributing to current health problems (i.e. uncontrolled diabetes, poor cardiac diet, etc.).
Home health agencies can also arrange for companies such as Meals-on-Wheels to drop prepared food off at the door.
Each service listed has a certain schedule. Depending on what is ordered and what health insurance will cover, home healthcare employees will make visits to the home either several times per week or several times per month for a specific medically ordered duration.
Although many home healthcare agencies in the United States offers all of these services, clients and caregivers who are looking into home health should research and check with each and every agency.
Primary physicians will make recommendations and referrals about what services would be most pertinent to the client’s plan-of-care.
Still, a client’s experience and recovery time will be the most beneficial to them if they have a say in their own plan-of-care.
Learning about each service ahead of time helps clients and caregivers to make well-informed decisions about their own healthcare at home.
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