The aging process doesn’t mean that older adults need to lose their independence by moving to a care community. There are many ways a person can live at home and keep their personal independence as long as possible.
Home health is an important element that ensures safety and wellness, covering a wide range of services. Often, bringing home health providers into the home helps by delaying the need for the person to move to a nursing care center.
Overview: What is Home Health?
Home health care encompasses anything a person needs to maintain wellness and keep up with daily living activities. Often, these services include:
- Physical Therapy: Exercises to help with strength and flexibility, often with a focus on functional movement. These exercises are essential to improve safety and mobility.
- Skilled Nursing: Specific medical care is available through credentialed nurses. Examples include wound care, nutrition therapy, IV administration, injections, health monitoring, and patient/caregiver education.
- Occupational Therapy: Services that help the patient manage the daily activities of life, such as eating, walking, and grooming. For example, occupational therapy is typical for people who are recovering after surgery or a stroke.
- Speech Therapy: Care that helps a person regain or improve their communication. Speech therapists can assist patients of all ages.
- Social Services: Medical providers can help with social services, such as counseling and community resources. Social workers are often involved, especially when the patient’s care needs are complex.
- Home Health Aides: Basic personal needs can be taken care of through home health aides. These providers have specialized training to help under the supervision of a nurse. Examples include bathing, getting out of bed, walking, and dressing.
- Pharmaceutical Services: It’s common for patients to be using ongoing prescriptions. When it’s time for a refill, medicine and medical equipment are often available for home delivery. Additionally, family members and caregivers can receive education and training about using the equipment or how the patient needs to take the medications.
- Testing and Diagnostics: Certain types of laboratory tests can be done in the comfort of homes, such as taking blood and urine samples. Additionally, portable x-ray machines are available from certain medical providers.
When a person qualifies for home health services, they work with a case manager who assists in creating a personalized care plan. However, each patient is unique, which is why there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every care plan.
At Avatar Healthcare, we have a strong network of home health care providers. In addition, our team works with each family to provide customized support based on their goals and preferences.
Highest Priorities for Home Health Services
What are your goals when bringing in-home health services? Generally, the purpose is to help patients when they need medical support after an injury or illness.
Home health services can help a patient:
- Improve their health
- Regain independence
- Improve self-sufficiency
- Reduce health decline
- Maintain current level of function
Your case manager will discuss specific concerns about daily living then design services to support these needs. Additionally, all providers need to maintain clear goals and open communication, ensuring that everything aligns with the patients’ preferences.
Things You Can Expect from Home Health Care Services
What should you expect when bringing in-home health care for the first time? The onboarding process typically looks like this:
- Doctor Referral: A primary care physician determines that a patient is eligible for home health care services. Alternatively, the family might initiate the process and reach out to a home health provider to gain approval through a doctor.
- Onboarding: When the doctor has finalized the referral, a home health agency will book a time to begin onboarding. During this appointment, we will ask questions about your health and discuss overall needs that should be addressed through the health care plan.
- Scheduling: The next step is to design a care schedule with qualified providers who can assist. The home health agency works hand-in-hand with the doctor to ensure services match the patients’ needs, and the doctor stays informed about everything that is happening.
- Adjustments: If the patient’s health changes, then a home health care plan needs to be adjusted. Ongoing monitoring and patient evaluation are critical to providing the new services that might be required in the future.
Once home health care services are in place, there are a variety of ways that staff members can provide support to each patient. Here are some of the activities that might be happening in your home:
- Evaluating the person’s diet, including both meals and hydration
- Checking vital signs, such as breathing, heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure
- Asking about pain levels
- Implementing treatments to manage pain and reduce other symptoms
- Monitor and administer prescriptions and over-the-counter medications
- Check safety in the home
- Provide education to the patient and their family
The home health agency also offers care coordination in the form of communication with all providers. Family members benefit because they have one point of contact from the home health provider, and this case manager carries the responsibility to communicate with everyone else involved.
The Difference: Home Health vs. Home Care Services
Even though the phrases might sound similar, there are distinct differences between home health services and home care services. Families need to understand these differences, especially when choosing in-home providers.
- Home Health Services: These services are provided for everything medical in nature. Typically, a person receives home health services when recovering from an illness or injury. Or, ongoing home health support is often necessary for aging adults. Providers are usually licensed nurses, home health aides, or therapists.
- Home Care Services: On the other hand, home care can be provided by unskilled workers and include things such as housecleaning, cooking, and chores. Home care services can also include personal grooming, such as bathing and dressing.
There are times when home health might include certain services that fall within the category of home care. For example, a skilled nurse checks the patient’s vital signs and administers medications, which also help with bathing or other personal care tasks.
Onboarding Home Health Services: What to Expect
When you bring medical and care providers into your home, you can speed up the transition process by providing as much information as possible about the patient’s unique needs and care requirements.
A good home health service, such as Avatar Healthcare, will have an onboarding process in place. Not only do we have a thorough conversation with family members, but we gather and organize this information in the patient’s file.
Here are some of the things that the caregiver needs to know about the patient who is receiving home health services:
- Health Conditions: They need to know all health issues, both large and small. This information should include illnesses and injuries that affect the person’s daily life and overall health.
- Medications: Both over-the-counter and prescription medications should be documented. Have a reference sheet for frequency and dosages. Also, keep a record of when the patient receives these medications to avoid double-dosing.
- Dietary Restrictions: Documentation should always include nutritional needs, such as ingredients that should be avoided because of allergies. Additionally, information needs to be available about a special diet or the timing of food with medication usage.
- Assistive Items: Does the person have certain assistive items that help with daily living? Examples include eyeglasses, walkers, canes, dentures, hearing aids, etc. This information should be included in the patient’s notes.
- Mobility Concerns: Pay special attention to unique mobility concerns, such as the person’s ability to get in or out of a wheelchair or whether they have trouble walking around the house.
- Emergency Signs: Specific signs that the person is experiencing an emergency and needs medical attention. These signs are often related to a diagnosis or treatments the patient is receiving at the time.
- Likes and Dislikes: Every person has unique preferences and wants to participate in daily activities. Sharing the patient’s likes and dislikes is a way to make the services more effective and comfortable for everyone involved.
- Behavior Management: Behavioral problems are most common in patients with cognitive conditions, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Provide the caregiver information about these unique behavioral issues and how to handle them.
- Therapy Requirements: Is the person receiving regular therapy, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy? Not only does the appointment schedule need to be documented, but caregivers also need detailed instructions for at-home exercises that need to be done.
You can never provide too much information to a new caregiver or home health provider. However, if there is any information about the person’s healthcare that needs to be disclosed, share these details during the onboarding process.
How Much Do Home Health Services Cost?
Families wait to bring in professional home health care providers because they are worried about the cost of these services. Can you afford these medical services in your home?
The truth is that the cost of home health services varies depending on each patient’s unique needs. Some people only need a few hours of support, a few days a week. Other patients require 24/7 care.
But the price shouldn’t matter because there are usually financial solutions to pay for these necessary services. Sources for home health care funding include:
- Private Insurance
- The Veterans Administration
- The Older Americans Act
When you have questions about paying for home health services, reach out to our team at Avatar Healthcare. We’ll help you compare various funding options so you can maximize the available coverage.
The truth is that bringing in-home health providers often saves the family money. When the patient qualifies for these services, the family doesn’t need to pay out-of-pocket care. Instead, all services and associated equipment are covered through the home health care benefits.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Health Provider
How do you know if you are choosing a reputable home health provider? Here are a few essential questions that can help you learn more about the company and the quality of services you can expect:
- How long has the home health agency been in business?
- Does the provider offer clear information about costs and services?
- Will these fees change on a sliding schedule in the future?
- Is financial assistance available, such as help with insurance billing?
- Is the company an approved Medicare provider?
- Did the home health provider gain accreditation to certify the quality of care?
- Is the agency currently licensed to practice in the state?
- What is the provider-to-patient ratio?
- Does the agency work with families to design a personalized care plan?
- How do supervisors oversee the daily services and activities in the home?
- What hours are staff members and nurses available?
- Is 24/7 care available?
- Does the family have a case manager or one point of contact for questions and support?
- What procedures are in place if the home health care worker is unable to show up when scheduled?
- What practices are followed to ensure patient confidentiality?
- Do you have references and reviews from previous customers?
- Are nurses and in-home providers screened through background checks?
When choosing a home health care agency, the quality of the provider has a direct impact on the services your loved one will receive. Make sure to do your research to choose a team you can trust.
At Avatar Healthcare, quality services and patient satisfaction are always our top priorities. Therefore, we invite you to schedule a consultation so you can learn more about the level of care your loved one will receive.
Why Choose Avatar Healthcare?
When you need home health care services in the local area, we invite you to call our team at Avatar Healthcare to learn more about these quality services. These in-home services are available for families in all of the surrounding areas, including Richardson, TX, and Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW).
We offer comprehensive support for aging adults and their families, including home health, personal home care services, and hospice.
Contact us at Avatar Healthcare if you have questions or you would like to talk to a home health care expert: (844) 422-5528.