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Complete Home Health Care Guide

By Shelley Cartwright

Table of Contents

    Home health care offers skilled medical treatment and support in the comfort of your own home. This type of care can be invaluable for individuals recovering from surgeries, managing chronic illnesses, or dealing with injuries.

    In this blog, APEX Home Care will delve into the ins and outs of home health care, providing you with the essential information you need to know. Whether you're considering home health care for yourself or a loved one, or simply want to learn more about this important aspect of healthcare, you're in the right place.

    What Is Home Health Care?

    Home health care is a form of skilled medical care that comes to you and provides treatment and support within the comfort of your own home. This care aims to help you recover, manage chronic conditions, or regain independence following an illness or injury.

    Key elements of home health care:

    1. Skilled care: Home healthcare centers on specialized services provided by licensed healthcare professionals.
    2. Prescribed by a doctor: A physician must order home health care services to ensure it's the most appropriate level of care for your situation.
    3. Focus on goals: Home health care isn't just about treatment; it's about working towards specific goals like:
    • Recovering from surgery or an injury
    • Managing chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD
    • When physical limitations make regular doctor's visits challenging
    • Support during a period of declining health

    Is Home Health Care the Same as Home Care?

    Is Home Health Care the Same as Home Care?

    No, home health care and home care are distinct services, though they can work together.

    Here's the difference:

    • Home health care: Focuses on skilled medical treatment provided by licensed professionals like nurses and therapists. It requires a doctor's order.
    • Home care: Assists with activities of daily living like cleaning, cooking, bathing, dressing, and companionship. This service doesn’t require a doctor's order.

    What Does "Homebound" Mean?

    To qualify for home health care, you usually need to be considered "homebound."

    This means:

    • You have difficulty leaving home without assistance (wheelchair, walker, help from another person).
    • Leaving home requires a considerable and taxing effort.
    • Your doctor believes that leaving home could negatively impact your health condition.

    It's important to note that being homebound doesn't mean you can never leave for essential reasons like doctor's appointments or religious services.

    Homebound status is crucial for Medicare and insurance coverage of home health care services, emphasizing the need for care to come to the patient.

    What Does Home Health Care Do?

    What Does Home Health Care Do?

    Home health care offers a wide range of services tailored to meet the needs of individuals who need medical attention or assistance with daily tasks within the comfort of their homes.

    Here's a closer look at what home health care can do:

    • Medical care: Home health care provides skilled medical services delivered by licensed healthcare professionals. This can include wound care, medication management, injections, and monitoring of vital signs.
    • Rehabilitation services: Individuals recovering from surgery, injury, or illness can receive rehabilitation therapies, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, to regain strength, mobility, and independence.
    • Chronic disease management: For individuals living with chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), home health care offers ongoing support to manage symptoms, monitor progress, and prevent complications.
    • Pain management: Home health care professionals can help alleviate pain through various techniques, including medication management, therapeutic exercises, and alternative therapies like massage or acupuncture.
    • Independence and safety: Home health care aims to help you live safely and independently at home. This might involve teaching you safe medication practices, how to use medical equipment or ways to prevent falls.
    • Emotional support: The transition from hospital to home, or navigating a chronic condition, can be challenging. Home health care professionals offer emotional support and guidance to promote positive mental well-being.

    Examples of Home Health Care Services

    Some examples can help you better understand home health services. Included is a diverse range of medical and non-medical care that’s tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual.

    Here are some examples of the home care services:

    • Skilled nursing: This includes wound care, medication management, IV therapy, catheter care, and education on managing health conditions.
    • Physical therapy: Therapists develop personalized exercise programs to improve mobility, strength, balance, and coordination to help individuals regain function and independence.
    • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapists focus on activities of daily living (ADLs), adaptive techniques, and assistive devices to enhance individuals' ability to perform daily tasks and participate in meaningful activities.
    • Speech therapy: Speech-language pathologists address communication disorders, swallowing difficulties, and cognitive impairments through exercises, strategies, and assistive devices.
    • Home health aide services: Home health aides help with personal care, hygiene, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, and companionship which provide essential support to individuals in their homes.
    • Medical social services: Medical social workers help individuals and families navigate healthcare systems, access community resources, and cope with emotional and practical challenges related to illness or disability.
    • Medication management: Setting up medications, injections, and education on proper usage and side effects.

    Benefits of Home Health Care

    Benefits of Home Health Care

    Home health care offers numerous advantages for individuals and their families, including:

    • Comfort and convenience: By receiving in-home care, individuals can remain in a familiar and comfortable environment, surrounded by loved ones and personal belongings.
    • Personalized care: Home health services are tailored to meet the needs and preferences of each individual and promote a personalized approach to healthcare.
    • Enhanced independence: Home health care focuses on empowering individuals to maintain their independence and autonomy while receiving the necessary support to manage their health and daily activities.
    • Reduced hospitalizations: Home health care can help prevent unnecessary hospitalizations by providing proactive medical monitoring, timely interventions, and comprehensive care management.
    • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to institutional care settings like hospitals or nursing homes, home health care is often more cost-effective, as it reduces the need for expensive hospital stays and long-term care facilities.
    • Improved outcomes: Research has shown that receiving in-home care services can lead to better health outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and faster recovery times compared to traditional care settings.

    Overall, home healthcare offers a holistic approach to healthcare delivery, promoting comfort, independence, and quality of life for those needing medical or supportive services.

    Who Needs Home Health Care?

    Home health care serves a broad spectrum of individuals who need medical attention, assistance with daily tasks, or rehabilitation services, all within the comfort and familiarity of their own homes.

    Here are some examples of people or situations that may benefit:

    • Elderly individuals: Seniors who may have difficulty with mobility, managing medications, or completing daily tasks often find home health care beneficial.
    • Individuals with chronic illnesses: People with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or multiple sclerosis may need regular medical monitoring and assistance with managing their conditions at home.
    • Those recovering from surgery or illness: Patients who are recuperating from surgery, injury, or illness may require temporary assistance with wound care, medication management, physical therapy, or rehabilitation services.
    • People with disabilities: Individuals with physical or developmental disabilities may need ongoing support with personal care, mobility, and medical needs.
    • Patients with complex medical needs: Some individuals have complex medical conditions that need specialized care, such as intravenous therapy, ventilator management, or skilled nursing services.
    • Those needing post-hospitalization support: After being discharged from the hospital, patients may benefit from home healthcare services to ensure a smooth transition, prevent readmission, and continue recovery at home.

    Who Qualifies for Home Health Care?

    Who Qualifies for Home Health Care?

    Long story short; it depends. Qualifications for home health care services typically depend on the individual's medical condition, functional status, and care needs. While specific eligibility criteria may vary based on factors such as insurance coverage and state regulations.

    Here are some common qualifications for home health care:

    • Medical necessity: The individual must have a medical condition that requires skilled nursing care, therapy services, or other skilled services provided by healthcare professionals.
    • Physician's order: A licensed physician must certify the need for home health care services and develop a plan of care outlining the specific services and goals for the individual's treatment.
    • Homebound status: The individual must be homebound, meaning that leaving the home requires a considerable and taxing effort or poses a risk to their health and safety.

    Home Health Care Costs

    In 2020, the cost of home healthcare services in the United States exhibited a median annual expenditure of $54,912 for in-home medical care. However, these costs aren’t uniform and fluctuate based on the specific type of care required. For instance, the charges for services provided by an occupational therapist, a registered nurse, or a home health aide will differ significantly. These costs are further influenced by geographical location, with substantial disparities based on the state.

    Is Home Health Care Covered by Insurance?

    Home health care may be covered by various insurance plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and long-term care insurance, under certain conditions.

    • Medicare: Medicare Part A and Part B may cover home health care services for eligible beneficiaries who meet specific criteria, including being homebound and requiring skilled nursing care or therapy services ordered by a physician.
    • Medicaid: Some Medicaid programs may offer coverage for home health care services based on medical necessity and eligibility criteria established by each state.
    • Private health insurance: Many private health insurance plans offer coverage for home health care services, although coverage limitations, copayments, and deductibles may apply depending on the individual's policy.
    • Long-term care insurance: Long-term care insurance policies may provide coverage for home health care services as part of a comprehensive long-term care plan, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.
    • Veterans Administration (VA) benefits: Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for home healthcare benefits through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) if they meet certain eligibility criteria based on military service and healthcare needs.

    Be sure to review insurance policies, understand coverage limitations and exclusions, and consult with your insurance provider or a qualified healthcare professional to determine if you’re eligible.

    Is Home Health Care Right for You?

    Is Home Health Care Right for You?

    If you find yourself or your family member nodding along with statements such as:

    • I want to stay in my home.
    • I sometimes get my medicines mixed up or can't remember when to take them.
    • There are medical issues that require long-term attention.
    • If medical treatments or procedures are needed regularly.
    • Care from a nurse is necessary regularly.

    Then home health care could be an ideal option for you or your loved one.

    Still not sure? Consider taking a Care Assessment Quiz to determine the level of care that aligns with your needs and preferences.

    Your Path to Enhanced Health and Comfort Starts Here

    We know that you deserve to live your healthiest, happiest life. Take the first step towards personalized care and comfort in the familiar surroundings of your home. Whether you're recovering from surgery, managing a chronic condition, or seeking support for daily activities, home health care offers tailored solutions to meet your needs. Contact Apex Health Services today and let us help you on your journey to improved well-being and independence.


    Is home health care only for seniors and elderly adults?

    No! Home health care isn’t exclusively for seniors and elderly adults. While they commonly utilize these services, individuals of all ages with medical needs or disabilities can benefit from home health care.

    How often do home health professionals visit a patient?

    Home health professionals typically visit as often as required based on the individual's care plan and medical needs. Visits may range from a few times per week to daily, depending on the level of care required.

    How long can I receive home health care?

    The duration of home health care varies based on individual needs and treatment plans. It can range from short-term care following surgery or illness to long-term management of chronic conditions or disabilities.

    When my doctor orders home health care for me, can I ask for a specific home health agency?

    Yes, you can request a specific home health agency when your doctor orders home health care for you. It's essential to communicate your preferences to your doctor so they can make the necessary arrangements.

    Can I change my home health agency?

    If you're not satisfied with your current home health agency or if your needs change, know that you always have the option to change home health agencies. Discuss your reasons for wanting to change with your doctor or case manager, who can help you in making the transition to a new agency.

    Shelley Cartwright

    Mrs. Cartwright was hired in 2014 as a Business Development Consultant and named Hospice Administrator in 2015. In January 2023 Mrs. Cartwright was promoted to the company’s Chief Executive Officer position. During her tenure as the Hospice Administrator, APEX experienced remarkable growth and success in the hospice and palliative care industry, leading the company to the first accredited in Palliative care in the state of Illinois. With more than 30 years in leading healthcare organizations, Shelley is a proven leader in healthcare operations, organization, leadership, business development and market expansion.

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