Home Health: An Answer for Independent Living
Posted Date: 7/14/2014
Following an illness, injury or hospitalization, most seniors have a single focus: living independently for as long as possible.
While some circumstances necessitate a move to assisted living or a nursing and rehab facility that provides 24-hour care, many seniors can thrive in their own homes with help from an accredited home health agency, such as Tanner Home Health.
“Home health can be a short-term or long-term option, tailored to each patient’s unique needs,” said Debbie Brock, director of in-home services for Tanner Health System. “It allows patients to receive a wide variety of medical care without leaving home, which is invaluable to many patients and their loved ones.”
Tanner Home Health is fully accredited by The Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 20,500 healthcare organizations and programs in the United States. Tanner Home Health is also one of HomeCare Elite’s top 500 home health service providers. It provides a variety of in-home care to residents in the service region of Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, Heard and Paulding counties.
Old Concept, New Focus
Before modern medicine, caring for someone in the home was quite common and hospitalization was rare. Today, with a growing trend toward reducing hospital stays, home health care is gaining in popularity. While caregivers of the past were generally family members or friends, home health care today usually consists of a professional healthcare team working toward a common goal.
Today, home health care may be considered for patients who are:
- Recovering from an illness
“It’s better to provide care for someone in his or her own home than in a hospital setting,” said Brock. “The more we can do in the home, the more affordable we can make health care for Medicare, private insurers and ultimately for our patients. And with the federal Patient Privacy and Affordable Care Act, reducing hospital readmissions is a key quality indicator for healthcare organizations like Tanner. So the goal is to provide a level of care that keeps patients out of the hospital, in their homes, and that makes it a win-win for both the hospital and the patient.”
Medicare is the largest single payer of home care services. In 2009, Medicare spending was approximately 41 percent of the total home health care and hospice expenditure.
Home health care is not an option for everyone. Generally, the patient receiving care or treatment at home must be well enough to be cared for in the home setting.
Nonetheless, home health is continuing to emerge as a major part of the nation’s evolving healthcare system. According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, approximately 12 million people in the U.S. require some form of home health care, provided by one of more than 33,000 home health agencies.
More than two-thirds — almost 70 percent — of those who receive home health care are age 65 or older.
Conditions requiring home health care most frequently include diabetes, heart failure, chronic ulcers of the skin, osteoarthritis and hypertension.
Tanner Home Health offers the following range of in-home healthcare services:
- Skilled nursing, including wound care and dressing changes from a certified wound/ostomy nurse, administration of intramuscular and subcutaneous medications, diabetic education, venipuncture for lab studies, IV therapy, monitoring and teaching medication regimen, assessment of home environment, telehealth and more
Home health aides, providing personal care, such as bathing and comfort measures, as well as feeding and maintenance of the patient care area
Physical therapy, including gait training, therapeutic exercise, cardiopulmonary physical therapy, prosthetic therapy and the assessment of the home environment for possible need of durable medical equipment
Occupational therapy, such as muscle re-education, perceptual motor training, fine motor coordination, neurodevelopment treatment and sensory treatment
Speech therapy, including auditory processing, verbal language expressing, pragmatic skills and augmentative/alternative communication
Medical social services, such as the assessment of social and emotional factors, counseling for long-range planning, community resource planning and intervention toward management of terminal illness
Choosing a Home Health Provider
There are several factors that should be taken into consideration when choosing a home health agency, including the agency’s accreditation status and quality ratings.
The Medicare.gov Web site allows comparisons among home health agencies serving a given ZIP code. According to the site, Tanner Home Health ranks higher than the state and national averages in most metrics related to the quality of patient care and candid survey responses regarding the experience of patients the agency has served. The agency is licensed by the state of Georgia and certified by Medicare and Medicaid.
You may be eligible for home health care if you are currently enrolled in the Medicare or Medicaid programs and meet certain guidelines. These guidelines usually include requiring considerable assistance and effort to leave home; needing skilled care by a nurse, physical therapist, or speech therapist; or being under the care of a physician. A physician referral is needed to begin receiving home health services.
More information about Tanner Home Health is available at 770.834.5438 or online at www.TannerHomeHealth.org.