Home health services are used by many today, from seniors and disabled individuals who cannot easily get to medical centers, to those who want to recover from illnesses or injuries at home. If you will be working with a home health care agency, there are a few key terms to get familiar with.
Registered Nurse - A health care professional that has received two or more years of specialized training and can provide an array of medical care in a patient's home.
Home Health Care Aid - Professionals who assist patients with basic daily activities at home like bathing, dressing and eating.
Physical Therapist - Therapists work with patients at home to help them regain strength and mobility after an illness, injury or surgery.
Companion - A person who stays with a person who cannot be left alone due to medical reasons, providing companionship and sitting services.
Homemaker Services - Also provided by a home health care agency, homemaker services offer basic chores like laundry and housekeeping to seniors and others who cannot perform the tasks themselves.
Hospice Care - Specialized care that includes pain and symptom management for patients suffering from a terminal disease and any related conditions.
Respite Care - Short-term home care offered for the purpose of giving regular caregivers like family members a brief break from their duties.
Medically Necessary Care - Services provided by a nurse or other provider according to the direction of a doctor to assist with treating the patient's condition.
Activities of Daily Living - Tasks typically done by those at home on a daily basis, such as dressing, bathing and eating.
Functional Incapacity - The inability of the patient to perform the activities of daily living, which requires the assistance of a home health care agency.
Home health service companies provide care for elderly and disabled individuals who wish to remain in their own homes. Their services may vary from simple companionship to something close to hospice care.
They may be hired on a long term basis or for short periods to give respite to family caregivers. Some may be registered nurses, others are simply aides with some form of medical training. Most assist their clients in dealing with the challenges of aging or physical disability. Some may also work with individuals with mental health challenges. Short term home health care may also be provided during rehabilitation from an injury or recovery from serious disease.
Most providers operate as an agency. They provide nurses, home health aides or attendants and sometimes companions. Aides work under the supervision of nurses, attendants with social workers. Agencies may specialize in providing assistance for adult patients, for the elderly or for children. An agency may also focus on short term or long term care. The majority specialize in offering care to seniors and may be associated with senior centers or retirement homes. In some cases, their services are covered by health insurance, but most patients or their families have to pay out of pocket for various expenses. Simple companionship is sometimes provided by volunteers.
Home health care providers network with other medical professionals. They are commonly in direct communication with the client's doctor. They may also work with nutritionists and alternative medicine providers. In many cases they advise on the difficult decision to move into supported housing. When working with rehabilitation and recovery, they may help with the transition back to work and a normal life.