How Home Care works with Palliative Care and Home Health

When looking for assistance for yourself or a loved one, it is essential to understand the scope of services that are available. It is also important to understand who pays for each service- medical insurance, private pay or Long Term Care (LTC) insurance. If you have LTC insurance, contact your agent for the specifics of your policy. There are countless varieties of this kind of insurance.

What is Home Care? 

Home Care provides services that enable clients to remain in their homes. These services include:

  • Personal Care services: assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting and eating
  • Companion Care (Homemaker) services: meal preparation, laundry, medication reminders, transportation, light housekeeping- dusting, vacuuming, mopping, making the bed, and more
  • Nursing Services: some home care agencies are also licensed to provide skilled nursing services. These services work in conjunction with Home Health and can provide wound care, medication administration and more.
Home Care services are paid privately or by some Long Term Care (LTC) insurance policies. The number of visits and their duration are based on the client’s needs and desires. Services begin and end according to the client’s requests. Home Care can be for a short duration- to provide assistance following a hospitalization or illness- or long term. Every client has different needs.

Home Care starts with a comprehensive assessment by a Registered Nurse. They will determine what support the client has in place and what additional services are needed. A Care Plan is created with the input of the client, family and RN. As the client’s needs change, the Care Plan and/or the scheduled visits may change.
 

What is Palliative Care?

Palliative Care is a medical sub-specialty for people who are seriously ill. Palliative Care does not mean the patient is terminally ill or receiving hospice services. Palliative care patients can continue to seek curative treatments for their condition.

Services are covered under Medicare Part B or medical insurance and are provided by a specially trained physician or nurse practitioner. Medical Social Worker and home health aide can be provided as well. 

The Palliative Care team focuses on what is important to the patient and how they want to live their life. They help by explaining the pros and cons of the different medical treatments and managing the symptoms the patient is enduring. The palliative care team coordinates care with the patient’s primary doctor.

What is Home Health Care? 

Home Health Care provides services by professionals under physicians’ orders. These are skilled medical services and are paid by Medicare A or B (depending on the circumstances) or medical insurance. The services Home Health Agencies provide are:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care
  • Part-time or intermittent home health aide care
  • Medical social services
Visits by the Home Health professionals are scheduled usually 1 or 2 times/week and usually are about an hour in duration. The patient receiving the Home Health services or their caregiver will be taught the skills they need to manage in their home.

Home Health does not provide:

  • Extended home health aide visits or 24-hour-a-day care at home
  • Homemaker services
  • Custodial or personal care (help bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom) when this is the only care you need
Home Health services continue as long as they are medically necessary. Medically necessary criteria are defined by Medicare or your medical insurance company.

How do these care services work together?

Home Care, Home Health and Palliative Care Services can support the patient at the same time. Communication among the team members is essential. The therapists from Home Health will provide exercises for the patient to do- the Home Care caregiver can assist the patient with these. 

The Home care Caregiver can help with medication reminders so the patient follows the Palliative Care orders to keep them comfortable. 

Feedback from all team members is crucial to know if treatments, exercises, medications are effective. The top priority is for everyone to work to attain the client’s goal for services. Helping a person return to independence or transitioning to a focus of quality time is essential for the patient and their loved ones.