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What’s Home Health Care? Home Health Care Basics

As the Baby Boomer generation enters their golden years, the number of those aged 65 and over is rising rapidly. With that aging comes a need for more healthcare choices outside of a hospital setting.

Home health care is one such option, offering nursing, companionship, and basic daily care to an ill or infirmed person in their own home. There are many types of care one can receive under the home health umbrella.

If you are faced with a care decision, you need to know what’s home health care, and how it best applies to your situation. Here’s some basic information.

What’s Home Health Care?

home health nurse offering support to elderly person

Home care includes any professional service that allows a person to live safely in their own home. Professionals such as aides, nurses, and therapists provide short or long-term care, depending on a person’s needs.

Home health care is often less expensive, and more convenient than hospital care. Seniors are often happier receiving care in a familiar setting.

Types of Home Health Care

Depending on the individual’s needs, various types of care can be provided in the home, by different types of caregivers. Although there is overlap between these categories, they all share the goal of reducing hospital admissions.

Personal Care/Companion Care/Home Health Aide Service

Companion care involves tasks that can be performed by a non-licensed caregiver, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, and transportation needs of a homebound person. Companions usually meet with the client at regular intervals.

Personal care involves helping the client with toileting and personal hygiene tasks. Personal caregivers are custodial caregivers, but not trained nurses.

According to a study done by Genworth Financial, the average cost of companion care is around $4,300.00 per month. This amount will vary with the number of hours and the type of care needed.

Home Health Care/Visiting Nurse

In-home health care is doctor-ordered, usually after an illness or accident, and includes various types of therapy, such as physical, occupational, and speech.

These services require a caregiver skilled in therapeutic rehabilitation and are meant to be short-term, with the client’s recovery as the primary goal. The costs are a little higher than companion care, but may not be needed after 30 or 60 days. Medicare usually covers the costs of in-home health care, as does private insurance.

Private Nursing Care in the Home

Private, highly skilled nursing care is usually required when a client has a traumatic diagnosis or long-term condition, such as brain or spinal cord injury. Some examples of this type of care include:

  • Ventilator care and/or respiratory treatments
  • Gastrostomy (feeding tube) care
  • Medication and injection administration

These types of specialized care usually require a Critical Care Nurse to visit a certain number of hours per week, and a doctor must prescribe this care. This care is usually charged by the hour and can range from $13 to $95 an hour, depending on the number of hours, time of day, and what state you live in.

What to Do If You Need In-Home Care

If you are leaving the hospital, or are trying to recover from an injury, your doctor should be able to provide you with a list of home health care agencies in your area.

It’s important to know what to look for in a home-care service. Check any potential agency with the Better Business Bureau, and make sure the nurses employed there have the appropriate credentials, such as RN, or LPN. Make sure the service is an approved Medicare/Medicaid service, meeting their requirements for certification.

When you have your initial intake meeting with your chosen care agency, be sure to have a list of exactly what services you need. Arrange a meeting with the actual nurse or caregiver who will be working with you, to make sure that they are a good fit.

Have a list of questions as well to ask at these initial interviews. This list includes:

  • How long has the agency been providing home health care?
  • Is the agency licensed by your state?
  • Can the agency provide any references?
  • Are there background checks performed on the employees?
  • How does the agency follow up and handle the resolution of problems?
  • Is the agency able to provide written statements of all costs, as well as a payment plan?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions like this at each home health agency you contact. It’s important to take the time to do this kind of research so that you can make a fully informed care decision, and prepare financially, too.

How to Pay for Home Health Care Services

There are several ways to pay for in-home health care. Private pay, which is simply writing a check or using a credit card, is always an option.

Medicare, which is the government health insurance program for those 65 and over, will cover all approved home health care situations via their Part A and Part B Plans. Exceptions: Custodial or companion care is NOT covered unless that is part of a more skilled nursing situation. 24/7 nursing care is also not covered under Medicare.

Medicaid, which is both federal and state assistance, is a possible option for those of lower-income. Veterans can receive in-home health care benefits as well through the Veteran’s Administration.

Long-term care insurance can help with in-home care, but purchasing a long-term insurance policy can be pricey, in terms of premiums, especially if you are an older adult. It is always a good idea to include savings for possible future care services in your financial planning, no matter your age.

Start Planning Today

Look into care agencies in your area, and start conducting interviews with agency directors. This way, you can know what’s home health care in your vicinity as well as what services are available for what cost.

Home health care is a great help to clients who are confined and not self-sufficient. People who receive home health care retain comfort and dignity by being treated in a private, safe space.

If you are looking for home health care in the Ocala, Florida area, contact us today. We are happy to assist you with your in-home health needs.

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