When asked, most people would rather recover from an illness or injury in the comfort of home rather than a hospital or nursing center. That’s where home health comes in.
If your doctor or referring healthcare provider decides you need home health services, there are tools you can use to help make your choice of which agency you feel most comfortable with.
You should first request a list of agencies that serve your area from your doctor’s office. You can then use Medicare’s Home Health Compare tool online to learn more about each agency and talk to your doctor about the information you find there. Below are good questions to ask each agency:
- How long has your company been in business?
- What types of insurance and payment do you accept?
- How do you work with the attending physician if there is one?
- What is your response time after hours and weekends if there is a crisis?
- Is there a dedicated triage on-call team?
- How often do your nurses and aides visit typically?
There are differences in each agency and the services they provide. Look closely at each agency and the services they offer, discuss your options with your doctor or other healthcare provider, and choose the agency that best meets your needs. Your choice should be honored by your doctor, hospital discharge planner or other referring agency.
Your choices may be limited by agency availability or by your insurance coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare health plans, or other health insurance plans may require that you get home health services from agencies they contract with. You should call your plan for more information.
When you select an agency, you should expect:
- Upon your release from the hospital, rehabilitation facility or nursing facility, a home health nurse should contact you within 24-48 hours.
- The nurse will identify themselves, the name of the company for which they work and the purpose of the call. For the first visit, the nurse will set up a time to come to your home that is convenient for you. At that time, the nurse will ask you a series of questions about your health and assess your prescriptions and over-the counter medications.
- The nurse will bring a folder that contains all pertinent information about your care along with the phone number/contact information pertaining to the agency office. All of the forms in your folder will be discussed with you and are yours to keep.
- When a nurse, therapist, social worker or home health aide visit is necessary to ensure proper care is taken with regard to your health, you will always be notified and called for an appointment prior to the visit.
- Medicare requires all newly-admitted home health patients to be seen by the ordering physician within 30 days of any home health admission.
The staff members who may visit your home could be:
- A Registered Nurse
- Licensed Vocational Nurses will assist the RN in caring for each patient
- A Social Worker will provide information about programs that may assist you, along with determining if you qualify for programs such as Lifeline, DADS and other community-based programs
- A Speech Therapist to assist with improving language capabilities and/or swallowing after a surgical procedure, stroke or brain injury
- A Physical Therapist to help you focus on increasing strength and/or recovering fromsurgical procedures
- An Occupational Therapist can help you regain life skills and provides support for adults struggling with activities of daily living, such as dressing and eating
- A Home Health Aide to help with your independence in matters of personal hygiene, such as bathing, and take your blood pressure, temperature, pulse, etc.
To learn more about home health, visit www.kindredathome.com.