What Is Home Care?
Home care is professional nursing and medical care, or support services that are delivered in a client’s home. These services are designed to improve the client’s quality of life and allow them to remain in their preferred home setting for as long as possible.
As the name suggests, home care is assistance that occurs in a client’s home or residence. Home health care generally happens in the home but it can occur at assisted living facilities or in rehabilitation facilities if people need more assistance than these settings typically provide.
Depending on the individual client, home care can take many different forms and include a wide range of services from the relatively minor, and frequently non-medical, to ones that are more time- and labor-intensive.
Home care services may include:
- Bathing and hygiene assistance
- Assisting with mobility challenges — these may be minor and temporary or far more serious
- Food preparation
- Medication reminders
- Driving a client to regular doctor’s appointments or the grocery store.
AAA reports that many seniors do not drive — and those who do may struggle or be more prone to traffic accidents and injuries
All the above-mentioned activities fall under the umbrella of activities of daily living (ADL). Home health care is designed to assist people in effectively carrying out their ADLs.
In addition to assistance with ADLs, some clients may require skilled nursing assistance to remain in their homes.
Skilled Nursing in the Home
Skilled nursing assistance is care that is provided by an RN or an LPN that helps clients with more complex medical needs. Skilled nursing care can be a benefit for patients with a wide variety of medical diagnoses and needs.
Some of the most common treatments provided by Home Care Nurses include:
- Ventilator care
- Breathing treatments for individuals with COPD and asthma
- Feeding tube and NG tube care
- Providing medications — including injections and IV drugs — as needed
- Aiding with wound care
The services that skilled nurses can provide is also shaped by state laws and regulations. Some states put more restrictions on this type of care than do others.
Clients and their loved ones should understand not only the ADLS but also the A, B, C’s of home care, given the wide variety of activities they can offer. Seniors have varying needs and it’s imperative that they are adequately addressed. By better understanding the basics of home care, family members will have peace of mind about making this decision for their loved one.
Peace of mind is one of the most significant benefits that clients and families report after they signed up for home care.
What Are Other Benefits That Home Care Assistance Provides?
By choosing home care, seniors are able to maintain their independence — research shows that this is important in promoting long-term health; Home care assistance can also help seniors maintain their dignity.
Oftentimes, toileting and bathing can be challenging for seniors — particularly those with mobility issues. Home care assistants are skilled at assisting with these tasks in a sensitive manner;
Services are more personalized with home care. Clients’ and families can expect their unique needs to be met;
In-home caregivers are reliable. They inspire trust and confidence in both the client and his/her family. They are dependable — and arrive at the day and time when promised;
Caregivers reduce a family’s level of concern and provide important peace of mind. Home care companies take responsibility for a wide range of issues, depending on the individual client’s and family’s needs.
The above-mentioned benefits are some of the principal perks of choosing in-home care services, they are not the only positives. Home care assistants and the companies that they work for can provide interested parties with more detailed information about why at-home care can be a great option for them or their family members. It offers independence, dignity, safety, flexibility and dependability at a reasonable cost.
Common Home Health Care Goals
In-home health care has numerous goals — and these goals may vary significantly across clients. However, the over-arching goals of home health care are to:
- Keep clients safe
- Ensure that clients are happy
- Ease ADLs that were previously challenging — or limited clients’ quality of life
- Improve clients’ ability to maintain optimal functioning
- Provide respite care for family and friends
Who May Benefit from In-Home Care Services?
Many individuals and their families will benefit from at home care. Not only seniors but people that have been discharged from the hospital and need extra help for some time. A large number of clients have chronic diseases and/or conditions, such as:
- Alzheimer’s Disease—for example, the Alzheimer’s Association reports that more than 5 million people are impacted by Alzheimers’s
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Heart diseases/conditions
Also, many clients may have Type I or Type II diabetes that may require frequent medical interventions — and other clients may be in treatment for cancer, some will go into remission, whereas others may eventually need palliative care or more intensive medical assistance.
Anyone can benefit from at home health care. In fact, AARP reports that more than 30 million Americans over the age of 50 require caregiving or home care every year. Typically, seniors are the primary group that may needs homecare.
However, the vast majority of individuals who benefit from home health care are seniors. Senior home care makes a profound impact on this population demographics, allowing individuals to comfortably and safely stay in their homes. These services are for individuals who are in need of assistance but lack the support network to provide these necessary resources.
Not everyone who uses home health care is an older adult. Younger clients may need these services after traumatic injuries or following an unexpected illness. Home care may be particularly important for these younger clients if they are living far away from their families or if their family members cannot take time off from work.
What Is the Cost of Home Care for Seniors?
It is difficult to accurately estimate the cost of home care for seniors. Costs vary significantly depending on the company that is providing the services. The costs also depend on the area of the country in which the client lives.
Costs on the East and West Coast may be significantly higher than costs in mid-America. Recent surveys suggest that the average cost of a home health care assistant is $19 per hour. However, this figure can be as low as $9-10 in certain areas of the country, and as high as $30 in others.
Home care costs may range from $9-$30 per hour. For some people, these costs may be feasible. For others, it may be prohibitively expensive.
Ultimately, costs also hinge on what services the client needs. Generally, services are priced on an as-needed basis. This is one of the greatest benefits of home care — it offers clients and their families flexibility (flexibility that is not part of the offerings at most nursing homes or assisted living facilities).
For clients who may only need assistance with a handful of tasks in their lives, such as rides to the doctor’s office or assistance with grocery shopping, costs are likely to be minimal (or at the very least affordable for most families).
Non-Medical Home Care Services Also Provides Options
Non-medical services are advantageous and improve the quality of life for most clients, but there are some limitations to what this service offers. Care assistants are legally and ethically limited in the services they can provide to their clients.
For example, a non-medical home care assistant will not be able to give medical injections or change catheters. There may also be other services that are off-limits.
However, if a client’s needs increase dramatically — for example, they go from simply needing bathing assistance to requiring 24/7 services and supervision — costs may increase dramatically, making price a real consideration for some families.
But, it is important to note that some of these more expensive costs may be covered by Medicare or Medicaid (even if the majority of the payments still are out-of-pocket). There are Medicaid programs in place for home care — although many of these programs focus on temporary assistance after a rehabilitation facility. However, given how bureaucratic the system may be, it is always a good thing to check sith social workers at the hospital or another medical facility to see if there are funds that may be able to help you.
Differences Between Assisted Living and Home Care Agencies
Traditionally, assisted living facilities have been set up for individuals who are generally in good health and need minimal assistance. When those needs change there are not always services in place to assist people with greater clinical needs which is when licensed home care agencies get involved.
What to do Post Discharge from a Hospital or Rehab
Also, many people will need to have follow-up home care after they are discharged from a rehab facility typically following knee and hip replacements or any other fall. Social workers at these facilities often recommend different home care agencies to select amongst. Given anticipated large spikes in knee replacements over the next 20 years these needs are only likely to grow.
Social workers at these facilities often recommend a couple home care agencies to select amongst — guiding families that may not be well-informed about this issue.
How to Make Decisions about Home Care?
Aging can be a stressful and emotional process. Unexpected medical diagnoses can make the process even more emotional when added into the mix. Family members often have fear and uncertainty. They also have many questions about what the best and most appropriate care choices may be for their loved one. Stress may not cause some to make decisions that are not in their best interests.
Where Can You Turn for Help And Guidance
The Internet is a great resource for answering common questions. However, sometimes, it is even better to speak directly with the professionals who work in the home care sphere. These companies, along with their highly qualified home care assistants, have decades of experience in assisting clients and families successfully tackle a wide variety of situations and needs.
They understand what works and what doesn’t work. And, most home care companies are happy to share their experience and expertise with people who are considering going down the home health care path — either for themselves or for their family member.
Request a Home Care Consultation
Many companies offer free-of-charge consultations to prospective clients. During these consultations, the company can better assess the potential needs of the client. The family can then decide what services would be important for them. The client and his/her family can ask questions that are also critical for them.
- What are the costs of your home health care services?
- Will all of these costs be the family’s out-of-pocket responsibility?
- Will insurance policies cover the costs? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is most likely no — most costs are the client’s responsibility
- What services do you offer?
- It is there flexibility built-in to your service offerings?
Aging is unpredictable, as is the progression of different diseases and/or conditions. Even with common diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, some people may have very different experiences. If our loved one’s condition changes dramatically, will your company still be able to meet our needs? Will it allow the client to remain in his/her home, so that there is no disruption in continuity?
Consultations are not only about exchanging information, they are also about developing trust. Trust is a key component of any successful relationship between a client and his/her selected home health company.
It is also an integral ingredient in the relationship between the client and his/her home care provider.
A client and their family need to believe that the home health care provider will always act in the client’s best interests, to the best of the provider’s ability. With trust, a client and his/her family will find peace of mind.
Adult care services are available to cover the various needs of the rapidly aging American population. Literally, thousands of companies across the United States provide at-home care to clients with a wide variety of needs and different medical diagnoses.
Home health care may not be a perfect solution for all families (for a wide variety of reasons). However, it can be an excellent option for many people who are looking to remain in their homes, with safety and dignity, for as long as possible.
Unlike other options, one of the primary benefits of home health care is that it is flexible. Clients and their families’ can select the services that they need or would benefit from. This would mean they only pay for these selected services.
For relatively healthy seniors, this may mean that the cost of at-home care is relatively affordable since they only need limited assistance. When a seniors medical condition progresses, so can the level of services provided by the home care agency. This flexibility is one of the things that makes home health care an attractive option for such a diverse group of clients.
However, even though flexibility is a hallmark of home care providers, home health care may not be the answer for everyone. For some clients, as their medical needs grow, this will mean transitioning from non-medical home care to 24-7 services or facilities, such as nursing homes, that can provide more dedicated nursing care.
Home Care Criteria
Once a client and/or his/her family decide that at home health care is the service that best fits their needs, it is important that they select the company that best fits their needs. When selecting a company, look at the following criteria:
Internet and otherwise. You want to ensure that the company has a strong track record of providing reliable service to patients in your area.
Ask friends and neighbors who they have used for similar services and see if they have been satisfied. This is often a great way to weed out sub-standard companies. In addition to word-of-mouth from family members, social workers at hospitals and rehab facilities are great resources.
Speak directly with the company (ies) that you are considering. Make sure that you feel comfortable with them and that they are knowledgeable about important issues. Successful client-home care relationships depend on trusting the company and its home care assistants to provide best practice care.
Home Care 101 Provides Guidance
Understanding Home Care 101 will lead to a better choice when selecting home health care services. Our guidelines are just one way to ensure that the senior in your life remains safe, as independent as possible with the highest quality of life and all from the comfort and familiarity of the clients home.