When the after-care of a surgery or illness seems overwhelming to manage, coming home can feel like a distant reality. Some patients come home with the assistance of family and friends, while others choose an extended hospital stay or an extended care facility. Another option to consider is home health care, said Diane Whitcomb, RN, MSN, and director of Elkhart General and Memorial Home Care Home Health Agency.
”If you think you need home care, ask for it,” Whitcomb said. “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Myth 1: Home health care is only for the elderly.
Home health care is for all ages, from birth through the eldest patient, Whitcomb said, including children with special needs, individuals recovering from knee replacement surgery, and those who have recently suffered a stroke or have heart failure.
“Having someone come to your home and provide nursing or therapy can be the difference between healing sooner rather than later,” Whitcomb said. “They can become independent again and much sooner than if they didn’t receive the care.”
Nurses and therapists can show someone recovering from a stroke how to use equipment to help them dress themselves, bathe themselves and cook their own meals. A home health agency can also provide or coordinate required medical equipment.
Myth 2: Home health care is unaffordable.
There are different levels of home health care:
- Private duty services help a patient who needs someone to assist with bathing, dressing, grooming, brushing teeth, combing hair and possibly providing a light meal.
- Home health agency services often apply to someone who is homebound, although not necessarily bedbound. This level of care is provided intermittently on a short-term basis. For example, Whitcomb said, someone recovering from hip replacement surgery may qualify for temporary home health agency services. Patients receiving this level of care require the services of a nurse or a physical or speech therapist, and they may also receive assistance from occupational therapy, aides and social workers.
- Personal services agency caregivers provide safety and companionship and perform homemaker services such as cleaning, laundry and other duties that may be difficult for a patient. Insurance does not often pay for these services.
Myth 3: Home health care is only for long-term care.
Home health care can last for years or as little as a few weeks, depending on the needs of the patient.
“Anyone suffering from heart failure, a stroke or other illness could probably use home care services to get them back on their feet again,” Whitcomb said.
An individual can receive home health care following an illness even if hospitalization wasn’t required, as long as the patient’s doctor gives an order for home care services. Family members can also call a home health agency to begin the process of setting up home health care.