Assisted Living & Senior Living in U.S.

What is Home Health Care?

Home Health Care Overview

Determining that you or someone you love is in need of help via home health care agency is a difficult decision for most anyone to come to.  The decision to incorporate the help offered through a home health care agency will depend upon the needs and budget of your family.  The home health care realm is one that is generally easier and more affordable than complete assisted living homes.  However, your family comes to their decision, learning more about the aspects of a home care agency can help lead you into the right direction and decision for your individual circumstances.

What are home healthcare agencies?

Home health care agencies are businesses that employ professionals to visit with and assist those who are home bound but relatively independent.  A person requiring help, but not enough help to designate the need for 24 hour care, will continue to remain at home rather than moving into an assisted living center or hospital setting.  A home care agency will come to the home of the person in need and care for the home and the resident when necessary.  Home care agencies are as professional as those in the assisted living homes, but are in your own home and caring for the individual. 

Are home health care agency staff members certified?

Home health care agencies offer a great deal of support and medical attention to those who need it most.  Many aides are nurses, practical nurses, or retired medical professionals.  Other home health care aides may be certified in the trade as well as in all first aid and CPR measures.  Many health care aides also offer cooking, cleaning, and shopping help that further benefit the resident in their medical needs and capabilities. 

The home health care workers that come to your home are certified in a medical realm and are able to administer medicine and complete basic health care when needed.  The aide may also be able to monitor behaviors to better determine and plan for any sudden changes in mood, abilities, and functions that others may miss.  A home care agency offers a likeness to a family member being in the home to guide and care for a loved one when the ability to do so on their own is no longer there.

How can home health care benefit our family?

Home health care is generally used for part time or temporary care in the home due to recovery from surgery, illness, or an accident.  Those who require home health care may need:

  • Care for wounds after surgery
  • Light physical therapy and guidance
  • Help washing
  • Help dressing
  • Help with home tasks
  • Injections
  • Medicinal guidance
  • A watchful eye
  • Lower costs than an assisted living residence or nursing home

What to consider when determining the best home health care provider near you

When one is considering the best home health care and senior care options in the area, there may be a lot of questions you have and need answers to.  You or someone in your care may need help after an illness or surgery, but remains independent.  A disabled person in your family may need help and care, but not necessarily the extreme care of 24 hour supervision.  In these cases, the home health care agency may be the best option to consider.  When leaning about home health care, you may be confused and overwhelmed at first.  You may have some initial questions when you begin such as:

What is home health care?

Are the home health care agency staff members knowledgeable and courteous?
How much is home health care going to cost?
What does home health care offer?

What should I expect from the home health care agency?
What is not included in home health care?
Who is home health care for?

What types of services does home health care offer?

Is remaining in the home the best option for myself or the person requiring care?

How much is home health care going to cost?

Home care costs vary in cost depending upon the needs and requirements of the resident.  For example, those who are completely handicapped or are at risk mentally will require a higher payment than those who simply need basic care and attention.  Typical rates for home care vary from $15-$35 an hour, plus travel cost of about $.50 per mile.  While this price may seem high, assisted living centers and nursing home fees are much higher-often upwards of $200 per day.

When hiring a home health care aide, you are generally hiring by the hour and on an as needed basis.  For example, while at work you need someone to spend the afternoon with your loved one and care for the home and medical aspect required.  You will then determine how much time you require of a home health care aide, and pay by the hour going forward.  Some insurance, veteran’s benefits and Medicaid cover a portion of the cost, and all avenues should be explored before committing to a budget plan.

What should I expect from my home health care?

The first expectation one must have from their home health care agency provider is the reliability and safety of the staff member.  Staff members carrying for people in the home have as much responsibility as those working within a center, and should consider their job as an aide as paramount.  Staff knowledge, respectability, trustworthiness, and ability to provide great senior care should be of the highest expectations.

Next, expect the health care aide to assess your unique situation and work according to doctor orders and personal requests.  Your personal aide will work within the home just as in a care center, therefore, you can expect the food and water intake to be monitored, sleep and overall behavior and demeanor to be assessed, vitals will be taken and safety precautions will be in place.

Home health care agencies can act as a stand in for a family member who must be out of the home for periods of time.  Some patients may prefer to only have their family members care for them and this an option often held for only a short period of time. It should be noted that caregiving services are often covered by insurance, where the family member who cares for their loved one gets paid in the same way as a home health aid.  Care giving by family members can be overwhelming and stressful and lead to depression and other illnesses.  Having a professional health care aide work in the home gives patients and caregivers a break from each other and a change in routine.  A home health care agency can also be a helpful guide in the matters of care giving.

What does home health care offer?

When in the home, a health care aide will be in charge of the home, the safety, the general housekeeping, and the medical attention needed by the senior and recommended by the doctor.  Also included in many home health care agency services are speech therapy and occupational therapy.  Wound care, case management, and injections may also be offered.

Home health care allows one to be cared for and safe while in the comforts of their own home.  Home health care also offers an alternative to the standard assisted living facility care and cost.  Home health care agencies offer many comforts to those who wish to remain at home during a recovery period or time of illness. 

Managed Long Term Care Facilities (also known as MLTC's) will often taken on home care clients and offer referrals to home health care agencies that provide in home staff, and also may provide their own staff capable of determining your needs and treatment plan.  Often, a better a option is t work directly with a home health care agency, which will generally offer staff, medical attention, safety measures, transportation, and counseling services.  Home health care agencies also often offer social services and safety nets to their patients in need.

What is not included in home health care?

Not included in a home health care setting would be:

  • Around the clock care best offered via nursing homes
  • Meals
  • Intermittent care

Who will benefit most from a home health care agency?

A home health care agency is best for those who are relatively independent and capable and wish to remain in their home.  For example, those with mild cognitive impairments, those recovering from surgery, and those who have a broken bone.  Those who are reluctant to move or be in a new environment benefit from the agency in that the patients are able to stay where they are most comfortable and settled, without having to make drastic changes.  Those who are still able bodied and relatively independent may also find the aspect of staying home and relying on a home health care provider to be a good transition to the time when full assisted living care is needed. 

Those who will benefit most from a home health care agency are those who only require routine care and for a certain amount of time.  Visiting health aides and nurses are able to best care for those who need only services required from their agency, and not the continuous 24 hour care of a hospital setting.  Those who also benefit greatly are full time caregivers.  Caregivers have a tremendous job when caring for their loved ones around the clock. Allowing a home health care agency to come in and assist with tasks decreases the risk of burn out, anxiety and depression in the caregiver.

Types of services offered by home health care agencies

Those considering a temporary set of care and consider home health care agencies are those expecting to have the same services and amenities of one who is able to care for themselves.  Services offered by the home health care staff should also include the services available at the doctor's office or hospital.  Every patient is unique in their reasoning for need of care and also in their personality.  Balancing both are keys to determining the home health care services you will require.

Generally, home health care agencies offer:

  • Help bathing
  • Equipment needed for ease in bathroom and living areas
  • Safety measures put in place
  • Guidance and counseling
  • Canes, walkers, and wheelchairs
  • Medical alert necklace or bracelet, alarm for the door if needed
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Dispensing medication
  • Injections
  • Transportation
  • Physical therapy

How do I find who provides home healthcare services?

With such a variety of services available for those in need of a home health care agency, how are potential patients able to find a reputable agency?  Word of mouth and online research are very common methods of determining who provides home health care services, but there are also other avenues in which to explore:

  • Referrals
  • Churches
  • Hospital recommendation
  • Doctor referrals
  • Home care aide agency
  • Internet research and referrals

How do you pay for home health care?

For those who have budget concerns, relying upon a home health care agency is likely to relieve some worry on financing the care of one’s self or family member.  Since the home health care arena is less involved and intricate than the assisted living facilities, the costs remain lower than the full time care assisted living centers provide. Regardless of how low the home health care agency price point may be, the costs will need to be covered in some way.

Home health care agencies are paid via personal accounts, insurance, Veteran’s benefits, and through Medicare.  Depending upon the need for care, the level of independence and the amount of supplies needed in the home, the payments could vary between insurance coverage’s and cash payments.  Medicare will pay for home health care agencies, but only after there is doctor recommendation and documentation of all needs.  Around the clock care is not covered by insurance or Medicaid in regard to home health care.  In the event you or a loved one needs continuous care, an assisted living center or nursing home would be the next step.

Is remaining in the home the best option for myself or the person requiring home health care?

Only you, your family and doctor are able to best determine the placement for you during a recovery period.  However, in the event you are able bodied, relatively healthy, and in need of short term care, remaining in the home and receive home health care may be best option for you.