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What is Home Healthcare?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

When looking into home healthcare, there are a wide variety of services available. It helps keep adults as independent as possible at home where family is always most comfortable. It is a great way to keep the patient emotionally happy when they can be home in familiar surroundings instead of an assisted living facility or nursing home. When an illness, injury, or age interrupts normal daily life, it can prove frustrating for all those involved. Someone who requires care never wants to be a burden, which is where home healthcare can help. The options when it comes to home healthcare, however, can feel overwhelming. But, with a little upfront research and discussions with health care professionals, the process can be much easier for all those involved.

The first, and most important step, is to determine what type of care you or your loved one requires. Home healthcare can include physical therapy, skilled nursing, as well as “day-to-day” activity assistance, such as bathing and dressing. Sometimes it can even include cooking, light cleaning, and monitoring medication.

What is important to remember is that there is a difference between home healthcare and home care services. While home healthcare can include some “home assistance,” the focus is on medical care and is provided by licensed professionals, such as practical nurses, therapists, and home health aides. For example, if a patient requires injections, intravenous or nutrition therapy, or serious illness monitoring, a skilled home healthcare professional is the best option.

A home health aide has received formal training and has passed a competency test of some sort. They will typically work for a Medicare-certified home health or hospice agency that is regulated. A home health aide is supervised by a medical professional and can usually help with basic medical care such as administering medication, wound care, and assist with any prescribed exercises.

A home assistance aid is focused more on needs that include housecleaning, laundry, and meal preparation, as well as personal care such as bathing and dressing. While they are not necessarily licensed, they are often employed by agencies and are supervised by a professional such as a social worker or nurse. By determining what type of care you or your loved one requires, you will be better informed when making a decision. It is also a good idea to consult a family physician or a hospital social worker for additional guidance.

There are a variety of different resources available to help a family with the decision process that can provide a baseline education and introduction to home healthcare, as well as additional resources regarding accreditation information, specific disease/affliction organizations, and other general help. Eldercare functions within the Department of Health and Human Services, and can provide additional resources such as information for each topic associated with home healthcare for the elderly. In New Jersey, the Department of Human Services provides a multitude of information related to caring for someone at home, including home and community-based elder resources and prescription assistance. The Homecare and Hospice Association of New Jersey is another Jersey-focused organization to help families find a variety of different providers based on needs.

What is most important is that you act as an advocate for your family member. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, interview those who will be assisting you or your loved one at home, and make sure to do your research. Most importantly, if you need help with what type of care is required, ask for help. Talk to your family member’s social worker or physician. While this is new to you, they have great experience assistance families with important decisions such as determining the best course of action and what is needed when it comes to home healthcare.

Staff Writer, Jeanine