Home care is a viable and often
preferred alternative to long-term hospitalization
or other institutionalized care. Home care may be
recommended for patients with long-term health
conditions, acute illness, permanent disability or
terminal illness. In these cases, there are often a
number of services available. The services of
nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists,
occupational therapists, social workers, dietitians,
home health aides, homemakers, chore workers and
companions are all usually available though the home
Your loved one's physician will help you decide what
services she needs, but choosing the right home care
provider takes some time and research.
The first step is to discuss the care recipient's
home care needs with his physician, hospital
discharge planner or case manager. Also, ask for a
list of local, licensed home care agencies. If a
list is not available, request one from the state's
department of aging, health or social services.
The following should also be considered when
choosing a home care agency:
Does the agency provide the services your loved one
Does the agency provide continuity of care? Will the
same professional Caregiver or team be involved for
the duration of the care plan?
Are the care recipients and family Caregivers
included when the agency develops or changes the
When is the agency accessible? Is someone available
to assist you and your loved one to answer questions
after hours or in an emergency?
Does the provider have a good reputation and
positive track record? Ask for a list of references
from local physicians, health care professionals,
discharge planners, and former clients.
How long has the agency been in business, serving
Is the agency licensed (required
in many states) and accredited by a healthcare
accreditation organization, such as the Joint
Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare
Does the agency accept Medicare,
Medicaid, or other public third party payors?
Because each state has its own eligibility
requirements, the home health agency may not accept
patients covered by Medicaid.
Is the agency Medicare certified?
Only Medicare certified agencies can provide
services covered by Medicare. It is also beneficial
to determine if the agency will continue services if
Medicare or other reimbursement sources are
The agency you choose should be an extension of
the physician's original plan of care for the
patient. It is essential that the agency and
Caregivers work well with the care recipient, her
family and physician. The common goal for everyone
involved in the patient's home care services should
be a successful recovery.
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