Home healthcare is a type of healthcare that is provided in the patient’s home. It is typically provided by a team of healthcare professionals, including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists.
The goal of home healthcare is to help patients recover from an illness or injury, manage a chronic condition, or assist with daily tasks while allowing them to remain in the comfort of their own homes. Home healthcare can be a more convenient and comfortable option for patients who are unable to travel to a clinic or hospital for treatment. It can also be less expensive than hospitalization or extended stays in a skilled nursing facility.
Types of Home Care Services
1. Visiting Nurses and Aides
These professionals provide medical care and personal assistance on a scheduled basis. They can help with tasks such as administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, and grooming.
2. Occupational and Physical Therapists
These therapists deliver therapy and rehabilitation exercises to help patients recover from injuries or illnesses and regain mobility and independence. They may work with patients to improve strength, balance, and coordination, and teach them how to use assistive devices like walkers or crutches.
3. Speech Language Pathologists
These professionals help patients regain their ability to communicate effectively and swallow safely. They may work with patients who have conditions such as stroke, brain injury, or Parkinson’s disease.
4. Home Health Equipment Companies
These companies provide supplies such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, and nebulizers based on the patient’s needs. They also provide education and training on how to use the equipment properly.
5. Private Duty Caregivers
These caregivers spend extended periods as live-in or shift-basis companions/assistants for complex care requirements. They provide personal care and assistance with activities of daily living, and can also provide companionship and emotional support.
Preparing for Home Care
1. Determine level of care needed
Before starting home healthcare services, it is important to determine the level of care that is needed. This includes assessing the patient’s ability to perform daily activities, their medical and therapy requirements, and any equipment necessities.
2. Choose a Provider
Once the level of care has been determined, the next step is to choose a provider. This includes researching the provider’s accreditation, reviews, range of services, experience, availability, and insurance coverage. It is important to choose a provider that meets the patient’s needs and has a good reputation.
3. Ready the Home Environment
In order to ready the home environment for home healthcare services, it is important to address any safety concerns and secure supplies. This includes establishing workable areas for medical and therapy equipment.
4. Create a Care Plan
Next, a care plan should be created. This plan allows for the coordinated and proactive management of health issues, progress, and various practitioner visits and schedules. The care plan should be reviewed regularly and updated as needed.
5. Educate Family and Friends
Educating family and friends on the patient’s needs is also important. This includes training primary and alternate caregivers on the patient’s needs to provide backup and scheduling relief.
Managing Medications and Medical Equipment at Home
Managing medications and medical equipment at home is an important aspect of home healthcare. Proper management helps ensure that the patient receives the right medications at the right time and that medical equipment is used correctly.
1. Storing Medications Properly
It is important to maintain lists of all medications, separate and label them clearly, and keep them secured away from heat and humidity. Patients should also track refills and dispose of expired or unused medications properly.
2. Operating Medical Equipment
Patients should follow instructions carefully when operating medical equipment and know the proper settings and alarms. It is also important to keep the machines serviced and have emergency responses at hand in case of any issues.
3. Monitoring Vital Signs and Wounds
Patients should monitor their vital signs, such as blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and temperature, and properly care for any wounds or incisions. This may include monitoring for signs of infection, keeping sutures or dressings clean and intact, and following bathing restrictions.
4. Caring for Surgical Wounds/Incisions
Patients should watch for signs of infection and follow the care plan for their surgical wounds or incisions. This may include cleaning the area, applying dressings or bandages, and performing post-op exercises.
5. Adjusting to Lifestyle Changes
Home healthcare can present challenges for patients as they adjust to increased reliance on caregivers and may face mobility or independence issues. Coping strategies, such as seeking support from family and friends or participating in therapy, can help ease the difficult transition.
When preparing for or receiving home care services, patients may have a number of questions. Here are some common questions and resources to find answers:
1. What type of care do I need?
- Patients can consult with their healthcare provider or a home healthcare agency to determine the type of care they need.
2. How do I choose a home healthcare provider?
- Patients can research different home healthcare providers by checking with their healthcare providers, hospitals, or online resources such as the Home Care Accreditation Commission.
3. How will home healthcare benefit me?
- Home healthcare can provide patients with the necessary medical care and support to recover and manage their conditions in the comfort of their own homes. It can also help patients save time and money by avoiding hospital stays and reducing the need for frequent office visits.
4. What will home healthcare cost?
- The cost of home healthcare can vary depending on the type of care needed and the provider. Patients should check with their insurance provider or the home healthcare agency to determine the cost.
5. How will I know if my care is being provided properly?
- Patients can ask their healthcare provider or home healthcare agency for regular updates on their care and progress. They can also contact the Home Healthcare Accreditation Commission to find providers that meet their specific needs.
6. How can I get support for my caregivers?
- Patients can contact their healthcare provider or home healthcare agency to find resources for support and training for their caregivers.
7. What are my rights as a home healthcare patient?
- Patients can consult with their healthcare provider or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to learn about their rights as a home healthcare patient.
In summary, home care allows for recovery and health maintenance within the comfort of familiar surroundings. While requiring adjustments, developing an effective care plan, training caregivers, and managing ongoing needs, home care offers patients and loved ones an alternative to extended hospitalization or facility care. By selecting reputable providers, creating a safe treatment space, and learning how to thrive in a new normal, the road home again can be navigated successfully one day at a time.