Home Health Care

If you or a loved one has an illness or injury that is preventing you (or them) from living a quality life, don’t lose hope; you have options. Some people think that their only option is a long hospital stay for temporary medical conditions, or assisted living for permanent conditions. Thankfully, this is no longer true. Home health care provides an at-home alternative to help you or your loved one stay home and enjoy the comfortable life they’re used to, all while getting the medical treatment and assistance they need. Home health care can be more affordable. It is also more convenient than other alternatives. Note that a medical doctor must refer you in order to use some home health care services. 


What is Home Health Care?

Home health care is an alternative to assisted living or long hospital stays where licensed nurses, home health aides, and therapists visit your home to provide medical assistance to help you recover from a medical condition. These home health care providers have the same medical licenses and requirements that hospitals and assisted living facilities require. Unlike regular home care services that will assist the injured or elderly individual with running errands, cleaning the house, or just providing company when lonely (known as companion services), home health care focuses more on the medical needs of the patient. As with any other service you shop for, it’s important to do your homework. Look into details of the home health care provider to be sure you receive a reputable high-quality home health care service, asking questions including but not limited to: 

  • Are they an approved Medicare provider?
  • Is financial assistance available based on a sliding-fee scale?
  • Do they provide references?
  • What are the employee training requirements?
  • What are employee-hiring requirements? (Experience, background checks, etc.)
  • Do they have a current license to practice?
  • Are they available around-the-clock?
  • What is their procedure for handling problems or complaints?
  • How long have they been in business?

Recent Home Health Care Articles

Want more information on in-home care services? Read all of our home health care articles.

Learn more about the home health care options available for medical and personal care.

Who Uses Home Health Care 

Home health care provides numerous benefits to a person who needs assistance. Care services are used by individuals who are in need of either short-term and long-term care, or rehabilitation; family members of patients can also order these services on the individual’s behalf. It’s important to keep in mind that doctor’s orders are needed for anyone to be able to use home health care services. Home health care services are like having a RX filled at the pharmacy as opposed to home care services which can be purchased “over the counter”. 

Anyone of any age can be prescribed home health care services from a licensed agency. If a doctor feels you are in need of any at-home medical services (see list below), then they will create orders of exactly what medical needs are required which are then provided to the home health care agency who must follow them to the letter.


Types of Home Health Care 

There are many different options within home health care to choose from. These can range from having a friend or family member provide caregiver services, to full home health care by a licensed practical nurse. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages to each.

Home Health Care Agency: A home health care agency is licensed, Medicare certified, and also accepts third party insurances as well as private-pay. The professionals in this agency (nurses, occupational or physical therapist, etc.) follow a doctor’s prescription for which medical needs to treat and provide medically related home health care.

Home Care Agency (non-medical): A home care agency is set apart from a home health care agency in that it does not provide any type of medical care. Instead, they offer basic assistance with living such as companion service, cooking, cleaning, and transportation services. You may also hear this referred to as custodial care. Physician’s orders are not required as with home health care services; however, it is also not eligible for Medicare reimbursement. Many third party insurances cover home care services but in most cases these services are privately paid for.

Registry or Staffing Agency: This is an employment agency that matches up healthcare workers with private employers (individuals needing home health care or their family). They are not required to hold any licenses or conform to specific state regulations. This works similar to hiring someone on your own except that you will pay the staffing agency a finder’s fee.

Independent Providers: These are individuals offering home health care or home care services. The person in need, or their family, hires them directly and pays them directly. They are responsible for all duties associated with having an employee including withholding taxes, calculating social security withholding, etc. This is usually the most affordable option although it requires a bit more work on the individual in need or their family.

Family Member: In many cases where an individual or family member cannot afford to pay for home health care services, home care can be provided by a family member or friend. Of course, in most of these cases, the family member or friend providing care is unskilled in caregiving or medical practices. It can be very emotionally and physically exhausting for the family member as well.


Typical Services Offered

Home health care provides most of the services home care makes available, in addition to the following medical at-home services:

  • Bathing
  • Checking home safety
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Education on condition to patient and caregiver
  • Housekeeping
  • Injections
  • Intravenous therapy
  • Monitoring daily prescriptions and OTC medicines
  • Monitoring severe illness
  • Monitoring unsteady health status (checking vitals such as temperature and blood pressure regularly)
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Skilled nursing
  • Speech therapy
  • Wound care for bed sores or surgeries

Home health care is a win-win for everyone involved. It is affordable through Medicare or third-party insurances; it relieves family members of the worry and emotional stress associated with caring for an ailing loved one; it provides licensed medical care under the supervision of a medical doctor; and it provides a convenient and comfortable way for the patient to be treated at home.

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