Expectations For In-Home Care

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,858
    Mark Meginnis, a vice president at MedStar Visiting Nurse Association, explains home health care, who needs it, and when it is the right option for people who need medical care at home.

    Mark Meginnis: Hi! I am Mark Meginnis with MedStar Visiting Nurse Association. I want to tell you about home healthcare and how it may benefit you or a loved one.

    Sometimes when patients are discharged from a hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center, they're still very sick. A doctor can refer these patients to home health care. A doctor may also order homecare for someone who is disabled or living with a chronic illness. A homecare company will send licensed healthcare professionals to visit a patient at home a few days a week, usually for about an hour.

    The homecare team monitors patients and helps them care for themselves, so they can feel safely at home. There are a range of services that a doctor can ask the homecare company to provide. For instance, skilled nursing. This may include assistance with medicines, wound care, education about diet or activity to better control your disease symptoms, or handling IV treatments at home.

    Another service is rehabilitation like physical, occupational, and speech therapy. This may include a home safety assessment, exercise plan, or managing activities of daily living. Home care companies may also provide medical social workers. Social workers assess the patient's ability to live well in their current environment. They may help a patient find support in the community, like Meals on Wheels or Adult Daycare.

    The doctor may order IV drug therapy at home. Homecare nurses teach patients or loved ones to manage IV therapy on their own. For patients who need skilled nursing, they can also get help from home-help aid. These team members assist with personal care like bathing or grooming.

    There are a few important things you should know about homecare. It must be ordered by doctor and the patient must have a face-to-face meeting with the doctor in order to qualify. It is not long-term care. When the homecare team determines that a patient has reached maximum potential, the patient will be discharged. Homecare is part-time and intermittent. Patients receive visits just a few times a week for about an hour. The patient must be confined to the home, meaning it is very difficult to leave the home and travel. It can take different forms, but the goal of homecare is to help people be independent and to help them heal safely at home.