Home Health 101

Open Front Door of a Home

Note: This post originally appeared at Cariloop.com.

If you or a loved one have decided to stay at home as long as possible, there is something called “home health” care that can help delay the move into senior housing.  Here’s an overview of home health and what it can do for you:

There are two type so f home health: medical and non-medical. Non-medical home care ranges from just having someone to check in on occasion to assistance with activities of daily living like showering or getting dressed.  Medical home health includes things like dressing wounds after surgery and performing physical therapy.

You might have to pay for some of the care.  Medical home care is usually covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or insurance.  However, non-medical home care is not covered.  If you want additional services that aren’t covered, then you’ll have to pay out of pocket.  Home care is typically billed by the hour, and prices range depending on what types of services are provided.

Even if you move to a retirement community, you’ll probably be receiving some type of home health. Even retirement communities are hearing the call of home health agencies since many communities don’t maintain the licensure necessary to provide that care.  Be prepared to receive a separate bill for home health if you move into a  community that doesn’t offer nursing or assisted living.

Home health can be a valuable tool for keeping seniors in their homes as long as possible.  Like any service, keeping a watchful eye can help prevent abuse or neglect by caregivers.  To find ratings for local home health agencies, you can check Medicare’s Home Health Compare.

Home Health Compare

I must admit that home health isn’t my biggest area of expertise. Although I probably know more about that than the typical consumer, I still had no idea how to go about selecting a home health provider. But, today I stumbled across someone who works in the field. She mentioned a website called Home Health Compare.

Home Health Compare is managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and specializes in rating home health agencies. Since most home health is paid for by the government, home health agencies are also rated by the government.  Here’s the website:  http://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare

Home Health Compare is pretty easy to use.  First, type in a city or ZIP code.  You can also search by home health agency.

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The next page will give you a summary of service providers in your area.  When you click on a provider, it will give you a summary of their services:

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You’ll notice that there are three tabs at the top of the page.  Those tabs show you quality scores and patient satisfaction.  For example, clicking on “Quality of Patient Care” will show you this:

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You can also click on the “Patient Survey Results” tab to learn more about how patients rated the service.

I personally would not choose a home health agency that hadn’t been rated in both of these areas.  I also wouldn’t choose one that had ratings lower than the state average.  However, you can pick and choose among providers using this service and even compare up to three different companies.

Hospitals & older patients, long term care costs, health care workers, and reputable senior professionals

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Hospitals don’t always provide the best care to older patients.

Long term care costs have increased in some parts of the country.

There aren’t enough home care workers in the United States.

Not all senior housing professionals are alike; a watchdog group is going after less-than-reputable designations.

36/365: The Doctor Will See You Now” © 2009 Sweet Carolina Photography, Attribution 3.0 Generic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/