What is Home Health Care?

Today, home health care is a viable alternative to hospital or nursing home care for thousands of patients with chronic illness, recovering from surgery, injury or acute illness and terminal patients.

Advances in medical technology now allow health professionals to provide institutional-level care in nurturing home environment. Patients at home receive intravenous antibiotic and other drug therapy. Postoperative patients can be discharged earlier with incision or wound care managed by a home health nurse. Tube feeding, diabetic management, coordination of nursing, physical and occupational therapies for stroke and other trauma patients – a whole spectrum of services and support is available from the home health agency.

In fact, a renewed focus on the value of home-based health care has resulted in the development of a home health care system that, for many patients, is as good or better than institutional care.

Technology has allowed home care providers to virtually bring the hospital setting into the home with the same high standards of care.

Core Home Health Care Services

Under Wyoming state law, home health agencies and hospices must be licensed through the Department of Health Services. In addition, most of them are certified by Medicare.

There are six core services offered by most home health agencies:

  • Nursing: A licensed nurse provides nursing care and treatments, develops a physician- authorized plan of care, works to involve the patient and the family in the care plan and coordinates other services provided by the home health agency.
  • Physical Therapy: A Physical Therapist provides assistance in regaining flexibility, mobility and balance.
  • Occupational Therapy: The Occupational Therapist helps the patient return to the routine of daily living by providing instruction in self-care (dressing and bathing), homemaking, learning to live more fully with a disability, and by suggesting ways to adapt the home environment to make remaining at home possible.
  • Speech-Language Pathology: The Speech-Language Pathologist helps with speech, hearing, swallowing and cognitive problems.
  • Medical Social Work: The Social Worker can assist with solving personal, family, work, financial, and other problems that may occur as a result of illness or disability.
  • Home Health Aide: Home Health Aides work under the supervision of the nurse or therapist to assist with daily routines such as bathing and dressing.

Additional Home Health Care Services

  • Nutritional Counseling: A Registered Dietitian can provide information and practical ideas about meal planning and prescribed diets.
  • Medical Supplies and Equipment: Medical supplies and equipment will be coordinated by the home health agency.
  • Respiratory Therapy: Specialized services and equipment are available for patients with respiratory disorders.
  • Infusion Therapy: Specialized equipment and services for nutritional purposes, chemotherapy, pain management, hydration, and administration of antibiotics can be arranged.
  • X-ray: Portable X-ray services can be scheduled in the home.
  • Hospice: Hospice involves an interdisciplinary team of skilled professionals and volunteers who provide comprehensive medical, psychological, and spiritual care for the terminally ill and support for the patient’s families. For more information: Wyoming Hospice Accociation
  • Private Duty Care: Private duty care includes homemakers, companions, sitters, nursing assistants, and licensed personnel.

Choosing a Home Health Care Provider

When choosing a home care provider, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Use the following checklist to gather basic information which will assist in making your selection easier:

  • How long has the agency been serving your community?
  • Ask your physician what he or she knows about the reputation of the agency.
  • Is the agency Medicare-certified? Even if Medicare will not be paying for your care, Medicare certification is a measure of quality.
  • How does the agency screen its employees?
  • Does the agency provide written statements describing its services, fees, eligibility requirements and funding sources?
  • Does a nurse or therapist conduct an evaluation of your needs in the home?
  • Does it include consultations with the family members, with the physician and other health professionals?
  • Does the agency write out a plan of care including specific duties to be performed, who will perform them, and when they will be performed?
  • Is the plan of care available for review?
  • Are the financial arrangements available in writing, including any minimum hour or day requirements the agency may have and day extra care charges?
  • Will a professional supervising the home care services visit the home regularly?
  • What arrangements are there for emergencies?

Home Health Care Consumers

Anyone needing the following services from health care professionals can be treated at home:

  • Skilled Nursing
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Medical Social Work
  • AIDS Treatment
  • Behavioral Health
  • Chemotherapy
  • IV Antibiotic
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition Therapy
  • Premature and Low Birth Weight Infant Care
  • Pregnancy Monitoring
  • Pediatric Services
  • Head and Spinal Cord Injury Care
  • Hospice for the Terminally Ill

Home Health Care Advantages

With a home care team providing care, patients receive individual attention from health care professionals while also receiving the many intangible benefits of care at home.

Home Health Care:

  • Keeps families together-at home
  • Promotes independence
  • Prevents or postpones institutionalization
  • Provides a less stressful environment and delivers care in a form that promotes a higher satisfaction level for patients
  • Offers personalized care tailored to each individual
  • Is often less expensive than other forms of health care

Payment For Home Health Care Services

Depending upon the type of treatment required, home care services are often covered by third party payers such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and private insurance companies. A home care agency will do a complete assessment or evaluation of each patient to determine their needs. Since they work with most major insurance carriers and have the experience and expertise to review a patient’s coverage, they can usually determine what services a patient’s insurer will cover, complete the necessary paperwork and file the claims. As with any other health care provider, home care agencies will also accept patients who are paying for their own care. No matter which method of payment a patient chooses, home care professionals deliver the same high quality of service and personal attention to each and every patient.