There are different kinds of home care that can be provided by various health and wellness professionals for an illness or injury at the comfort of one’s home. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF).
Examples of skilled home health services include:
- Wound care for pressure sores or a surgical wound
- Patient and caregiver education
- Intravenous or nutrition therapy
- Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status
- The goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care helps you get better, regain your independence, and become as self-sufficient as possible.
Home Doctor Services
Doctor visits include both general practitioners GP and specialist visits (e.g. orthopedists, cardiologists). In general, a doctor visit is triggered by a need for non-emergency health care. Patients may also seek the doctor in order to obtain a referral to home care. The number of doctor visits may be associated with both short and long-term care needs. A person may need to see the doctor several times for the follow-up of acute health episodes. Persons with ongoing illnesses, disabilities, or chronic conditions, for example Alzheimer or diabetes, are likely to see a doctor regularly.
Home care may be a substitute or a complement to inpatient care and doctor visits. The likelihood of having a hospitalization or a doctor visit may be reduced by home care use in two main ways. First, home care providers can address some health problems early, before hospitalization or seeing a doctor is required. This effect is hypothesized to be stronger for medically-related home care, because the home care providers have medical training. Because GP services are more general than specialists’, they may be easier to replace with home care. Second, for persons with ADL limitations, receiving appropriate help can, for instance, help avoid falls, malnutrition, and related hospitalizations or doctor visits. Even less intensive home care, such as help with IADLs, may avoid hospitalizations or visits related to mismanaged chronic conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes. These two effects may be partially cancelled-out by two other factors. Home care
providers, mainly medically-trained staff, can detect previously neglected conditions that require hospital or doctor care. For hospitalizations, this effect is expected to be small, because the typical procedure is to see a GP first, except in emergency cases. Home care providers are also more likely to recommend a GP over a specialist.
if home care providers detect health conditions at an early stage, less acute care may be needed.
The number of doctor visits may be reduced as well, if home care addresses some short- and long-term care needs described above. Non-medically-related home care can help manage long-term and chronic conditions. Medically-related home care may reduce visits related to the follow-up of acute episodes. This substitution effect may be weaker when specialist care is needed.
What should I expect from my home health care?
Doctor’s orders are needed to start care. Once your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you some questions about your health.
The home health agency staff will also talk to your doctor about your care and keep your doctor updated about your progress.
It’s important that home health staff see you as often as the doctor ordered.
Examples of what the home health staff should do include:
- Check what you’re eating and drinking.
- Formulate a regimen that helps alleviate and maintain pain. Engage in Physiotherapy sessions
- Check your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing.
- Check that you’re taking your prescription and other drugs and any treatments correctly.
- Ask if you’re having pain.
- Check your safety in the home.
- Teach you about your care so you can take care of yourself.
- Coordinate your care. This means they must communicate regularly with you, your doctor, and anyone else who gives you care.
The emergence of a new trend in physical therapy now brings physiotherapists directly to the patient’s home to provide treatment. This model entails the physiotherapist traveling to the patient’s home with portable treatment equipment, such as hand held modality equipment. Studies have shown that the need for home physiotherapy services is increasing. Physiotherapy in the home has been shown to assist clients to gain or re-gain improved strength and mobility, resulting in improved function and a better quality of life. Clients who have had a myocardial infarct and are receiving home care physiotherapy following discharge experience an improved quality of life. Those who have had a stroke benefit from improved mobility, functional capacity, and balance, which in turn reduce the risk of falling.
Although the need for physiotherapy services at home is great, access to quality home and continuing care physiotherapy is limited by the shortage of experienced physiotherapists who provide these services. Patients who received physiotherapy in a hospital setting may not have access to the same services when they are discharged. This can have a significant effect on their ability to achieve optimal function and, in the case of chronic disease, may mean repeated admissions for hospital care.