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Health and Home Services or Home Care: How are they different?

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Health and Home Services or Home Care: How are they different?

By Larissa Pourron, RN

Discharge time at the hospital can be a very exciting but overwhelming time for clients and their families.  On one hand, you are happy to be going home but on the other hand, you are nervous.  Going home may cause thoughts of doubt.  “Will I be able to stay home without help?  What if my family thinks I can’t do this – Where will I go?  Who will help me?”  The excitement of going home is immediately replaced with anxiety.  

During your time at the hospital you may hear, “She needs 24 hour care” or “He can go home with assistance and his medications.”  This may add confusion to your feelings of excitement and anxiety.  All these feelings combined with the important information and choices at discharge can make the client and family feel very overwhelmed.  It can leave you wondering, “What’s the right choice for me or my loved one?”

Home Health Services

Home health provides skilled nursing care to patients who are home bound. For a client to be home bound they have to be unable to leave their home or it has to be a taxing effort to leave their home.  A doctor’s order is needed to start with home health services.  It is often covered by Medicare and is short term.  A home health nurse can assist patients by educating them and their family on disease processes such as diabetes or congestive heart failure.  They can also assist with wound care for wounds such as pressure ulcers or surgical wounds, intravenous infusions, monthly injections, urinary catheter insertion, and drawing blood.  Physical Therapy, Occupational therapy, and speech therapy can also be provided in the home by a home health agency.  Home health can bridge the gap for many patients who come home from the hospital and need a little extra care.  Home health staff keep the doctor informed of the patient’s progress and goals eliminating the need for frequent visits with the doctor who ordered the home care.  This skilled care is often for a limited time and is dictated by your doctor or insurance.  These patients can stay in their own environment while receiving skilled care for a limited time.  

Home Care Services: Companion and Personal Care

Home care provides companion or personal care to clients who want to stay in their own environment.  It is often paid for out of pocket. However, it can be covered by long term care insurance.  Home care does not require an order from the doctor.  It can be long term or short term depending on the needs of the client. Home care can be provided for the client in conjunction with home health or hospice care. Two different types of home care services offered are companion care and personal care.  Companion care services include monitoring for safety, light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, transportation, and medication reminders.  Personal care services include assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, transfers, walking and toileting and all companion care services. These patients get the help they need, for as long as they need it, in their own environment.  Home care staff provide care to the client relieving the burden from the family.  We allow family to be family and not the care taker.  

When you leave the hospital or go through a traumatic event, finding the right care for your loved one shouldn’t be a burden.  While you or your loved one are in the hospital, stay in touch with the hospital case manager to know what the needs are going to be when you are headed home. I hear all too often, “they just told us mom was going to be discharge.  We had no idea what she was going to need to come to a skilled nursing facility.”  

Constant communication with the hospital or rehab staff will help to guide you in the direction that is best for you or your loved one.  

I hope the information in this article helps make the decisions a little easier. 

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