Are you comparing apples to apples?

A Closer Look at Home Care

“Home care” has become a catch phrase to include everything from dog walking and house cleaning to high tech nursing. Home health care encompasses a wide range of medical and non-medical services offered to patients in their own home. There are a variety of services offered such as assistance with activities of daily living, skilled nursing care and physical therapy.

Will you have some medical needs when you return home?

If a patient is in need of medical attention once they return home from a hospital or rehab stay, the patient will be referred to a skilled home health agency. Many of these agencies accept Medicare as well as traditional medical insurance. Each patient is then assigned to a team of nurses, therapists and social workers. This team designs a plan of care for the patient and oversees their care. Medicare or the patient’s secondary insurance company will provide funds for a period of time based on the patient’s diagnosis. A nurse or therapist will visit the patient’s home anywhere from a few times a day to once per week, depending on the diagnosis. In order to receive skilled home health care from a nurse or therapist, a patient must have a doctor’s order. They do not provide ongoing assistance with activities of daily living such as: feeding, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting or help with safely moving about the house.

Will you need help with your daily routine when you return home?

If a patient is in need of assistance with activities of daily living, as listed above, non-medical home care is highly recommended in order to prevent a re-hospitalization. A private- duty home care agency may be needed if a patient is in need of daily or weekly help with hygiene, personal care or even assistance keeping up the home.

Are you comparing apples to apples when looking at home care providers?

There are 3 different types of companies that provide in-home assistance.

  • Licensed Private Duty Home Health Agencies: Patient care is assessed and supervised by a Registered Nurse. Home health aides and certified nursing assistants provide companionship as well as personal care and are trained to assist with Alzheimer’s and dementia care. This type of agency has a nurse on-call at all times, performs regular supervisory checks on their employees and patients as well as holds liability and workers compensation insurance. All caregivers are employees of the agency, not sub-contractors. Look for a license number that begins with “HHA”.
  • Nurse Registries: Nurse Registries provide assistance with companionship and personal care, however, all caregivers working for a nurse registry are independent contractors and the registry is not responsible for directing the care they provide to their patients. The patient is responsible for monitoring and managing the caregivers time, duties and performance. A registry does not supervise independent contractors. Caregivers are responsible for obtaining their own liability and workers compensation insurance and are not supervised or managed. Look for a license number that begins with “NR”.
  • Homemaker / Companion Agencies. These agencies are not licensed to provide any type of medical or hands-on care. Since services are not medical, there are no requirements for supervision by a skilled nurse. Companion agencies are often lower priced than Home Health Agencies and can be an excellent solution when a client is in need of assistance with meal preparation, shopping, light housekeeping and companionship. When hands-on assistance is needed, companion agencies are not permitted to provide this service and employees may or may not be sub-contractors with minimal to no supervision. Look for a license number that begins with “HC”.

Written by: Jenee Mendillo, Bayshore Home Care