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What you Need to Know About Home Health Care

By HERWriter
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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

With the increasing trend towards outpatient care to alleviate pressure on hospitals and insurance companies, many people are taking advantage of home health care services. These kinds of services are of great benefit to those who wish to have their treatment carried out at home, or just require a little extra help managing things as they grow older or learn to live with their medical condition or disability. Home health care is usually associated with seniors, but can also be used for those recovering from surgery or other medical procedures that can limit a person’s ability to easily take care of his or her home.

Help at Home

Home care services include help with:

• Bathing, getting out of bed, using the bathroom, getting dressed
• Cleaning, yard work, laundry
• Cooking
• Remembering to take medication or getting to and from appointments
• Changing wound dressings, physiotherapy or occupational therapy
• IV therapy or injections

The Benefits of Home Health Care

“The goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care helps you get better, regain your independence, and become as self-sufficient as possible” (Medicare.gov).

While recuperating from surgery or learning to live with a medical condition, home health care patients can be visited and treated by a registered nurse, home health care agency staff, or skilled, specially trained care givers. This provides an alternative to many who do not want to move into an assisted living facility.

“Home healthcare services may often be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or veteran’s benefits.” (Homecareprofile.com).

The Downside of Home Health Care

If you’re considering home health care as an alternative to an assisted living facility or just as a short-term measure until you can look after things again on your own, know that each state has its own set of laws that determine what kind of services can be performed at home and which must be carried out in a health care facility.

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EmpowHER Guest

Although varying by state, most states have waiver programs which help pay for transportation and ADL's to include companion care and errands. Also, nurses never cure, merely manage care and therefore would never have a "cure" care plan in home care. Litlle know is the fact that children also qualify for home care, often times paid for by Medicaid. This segment (trach dependent, vent dependent, etc.) do receive long-term care in the home and fortunately there is a percentage of these patients who do have improved outcomes, although we don't refer to them as "cured". That is to say, a child may be receiving health care in the home because of status/post tracheostomy and with a well-coordinated care plan, in say five-ten years, the trach may be removed and the patient may go on to lead a perfectly normal life. I would also say that advocacy end education are very important. Care/case managers will often steer patients to home health agencies of their choosing, although the practice is discouraged and surely unethical. Patients and their families must do their own research to find a suitable home care provider. If a care manager states that a patient must go with the home care provider selected by the care manager, the patient should insist on talking to an administrator. A great resource for understanding home health service access is through http://www.Mayhac.com. They're advocacy based and can give background information on most home health agencies. They also credential providers.

June 8, 2011 - 11:46am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for the information.

Some very good points.

June 8, 2011 - 12:14pm

Most people overestimate the cost of a good long-term care policy. A healthy, married couple in their mid-fifties, can share a policy that starts off with over a half million in benefits for about $100 per month per spouse.

There’s a new type of government-approved long-term care policy that can protect your assets from Medicaid even if the policy runs out of benefits.

Here’s an explanation of how these policies work:



May 28, 2011 - 9:47am
HERWriter (reply to ScottAOlsonLTC)

Thanks a lot, Scott. I'm sure a lot of people will be able to benefit from this.

May 28, 2011 - 10:15am
EmpowHER Guest

It is very important to know that Medicare is limited to medically-necessary part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care, or physical therapy, speech-language pathology, or a continuing need for occupational therapy. A doctor must order your care, and a Medicare-certified home health agency must provide it. Skilled care is care that is administered by someone who has a license, a nurse, a therapist, a doctor. Skilled care has recovery as its goal. This confusion might explain why 54% of Baby Boomers believe Medicare pays for an extended care event or long term care, which typically starts at home after being in a skilled rehab facility. Medicare/Health Insurance is acute skilled care, care that is supposed to make you better. With Long-Term care, most of the time there is no recovery and is primarily custodial care or focusing on “Caring” not curing.
The financial consequences of needing care can be significant and again, arguably the single biggest financial risk most of us face, especially for women because we live longer. It's important to have a plan in place to ensure you remain independent, protect your assets and not burden your children.
Allison Payne
Long Term Care Specialist
LTC Financial Partners

May 28, 2011 - 9:36am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you, Alison.

I cover some of the financial implications in my related checklist, which should be posted soon, if it hasn't been already. Some of the more personal things like handling of money, groceries and such should be and can be addressed by family and friends, but not everyone has that.

My purpose in doing these articles is to let people know the services exist.

It is so important that this type of need is planned for way ahead of time.

Thanks, again, Allison, for adding your thoughts.

May 28, 2011 - 11:21am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.