Understanding Home Health Care

If your patient is going home and not in to extended care, she may benefit from home health care. The discharge planner will have explored this option with her and her family. Sometimes patients refuse home health care, often because they don’t understand its purpose or role in their recovery

What Home Health Care Is

Home health care provides a continuum of care from the acute hospitalization to help the patient adjust at home. Patient teaching is a primary function in the home. It is provided on an intermittent basis, meaning the nurse or therapist makes a visit to perform the care. This is not the same as private duty home care where a nurse or other caregiver is hired for shift work. A nurse may also be required to make a few follow up visits for such things as assessment and teaching for post-op care or for assessing respiratory status after a bout of pneumonia.

Physical, occupational, and speech therapy can be provided in the home. Nursing tasks can include such things as IVs, tube feedings, wound and ostomy care, diabetic instruction, and general assessment of systems until symptoms such as hypertension or congestive heart failure (CHF) are stabilized. Home health aide (HHA) visits may also be included, as indicated, for personal care as long as there is a skilled need as well. A medical social worker (MSW) could also be indicated to assist with short- and long-term planning arrangements and referrals to community resources.

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