A Guide to Home Care

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Home care is something that can easily be confused with care giving for the uninitiated. But it actually as a lot of moving parts. For a family with an ill loved one, dealing with the ins and outs of medical treatment can be stressful and overwhelming. Luckily though, home care can provide stability in a time of uncertainty. This article introduces home care, the process of getting it and the common parts of it that clients and their loved ones should be familiar with.

What is Home Care?

Home care is care that is provided at a client’s home by licensed medical professionals in conjunction with the client’s physician. Home care is typically recommended when a client is being discharged from the hospital or they have a condition that necessitates monitoring at home. In both cases, a client has difficulty leaving their home due to a medical condition and home care brings medical treatment to a client as opposed to frequent hospital or physician visits.

Who Provides Home Care?
Nurses (RNs and RPNs)
Physical Therapists
Occupational Therapists
Speech Therapists
Home Health Aides

How Do I Qualify for Home Care?
Clients qualify for home care when they are discharged from the hospital or are in need of monitoring for conditions as recommended by a physician. Clients also have a difficult time leaving their homes as a result of their medical condition. Common conditions for which home care is recommended includes but are not limited to:
Congestive heart failure (CHF)
Post-knee or hip replacement
Medication management
Swallowing problems
Post-stroke rehabilitation monitoring
A physician or other qualifying medical provider must order and refer the client for home care.

What Happens During a Home Care Visit?
In the initial home care visit, nurse or medical professional opening the case has the client sign consent paperwork and does an evaluation of the client and the client’s home. The evaluation typically consists of asking questions and assessing where the client is health-wise at that moment.

A typical home care visit with a nurse starts with the nurse checking the vital signs of their client and then asking how they are feeling. Depending on what the client is receiving home care for, the nurse will provide treatment. This may consist of changing bandages or dressings for a wound, filling a medication set, getting a weight for those who have CHF, or something else. This serves as the basis of the home care treatment plan that the nurse will create. A treatment plan includes goals for the service period that should be reached prior to discharge from home health.

Nurses also give advice on how to address common issues depending on what the client tells them during the course of the visit. This might range from discussions about diet, how to handle side effects from a medication, tips on how to move around safely in the house and so on.

If lab work is ordered, a nurse will bring blood drawing supplies or a specimen cup to the home and deliver them to the lab. At regular intervals, nurses will also check to make sure that all medications being taken by the client match the most recent medication list on file. If the client is being seen for medication management, this will happen more frequently.

Clients who also have caregivers will receive instruction as necessary about how to change dressings, how to move a client safely, or other observations they should report to the nurse depending upon the condition.

Physical Therapy
When a physical or occupational therapist visits the home, they also evaluate a client based upon their discipline requirements. As with nursing, safety is paramount so a therapist will always discuss any safety concerns they observe with a client.  The first visit consists of establishing what issues a client has. From this point, the therapist develops a treatment plan and an exercise program with goals based on a client’s needs. Depending on what the need is, a therapist may do only a few visits or more than that.

Speech Therapy
A speech therapist is typically called in to evaluate a client whenever they are having trouble eating and swallowing. An SPT will evaluate the client just like with any other discipline. They determine that the issue does not require more in-depth study in a hospital setting, the speech therapist will recommend ways to avoid eating and swallowing issues. They may recommend exercises of some sort as well. Unless a client needs speech therapy for a longer period of time, an SPT will visit only a few times.

Home Health Aides
Home health aides are supervised by nurses and are typically called in to help a client with doing their home exercise program, showering or bathing assistance, and help with other activities of daily living. An aide is usually given a plan by the nurse with tasks that need to be completed during their time with a client.

However, a home health aide is not a personal caregiver. They are a certified care provider intended to help with certain tasks related to home care. As such they are limited as to the amount of time that they spend in the home per visit and there are only so many visits they can make. All of this depends on the needs determined by the nurse.

What is the Difference Between Caregivers and Home Health?
Caregivers provide personal care while home health professionals provide medical care. Home care professionals are typically licensed and certified to standards according to their professions. Caregivers are not required to go through education and training. But the more education and experience they have, the better. Caregivers can also stay with clients for longer periods of time and home health professionals do not.

How Do I Know if I Need Home Care or a Caregiver?
Tulip Nurses and Caregivers encounters this question frequently. The answer to it depends on the situation your family is facing. We will be more than happy to explain the process for receiving home health services or hiring a caregiver. We employ high-skilled home health professionals and highly skilled caregivers to suit a variety of needs. Contact us today to receive a consultation.