Handbook for Mortals : A guide to settings and services : Home health services

Home health care can help for a short time during recovery from an illness or a procedure, or it can be a long-term arrangement that provides an alternative to institutional care. These services aim at allowing individuals to remain at home and be independent. Advances in technology have also directly affected the growth in home health care services. Many types of organizations and agencies provide home care services to clients and their families. Some are more regulated than others. Some may or may not be Medicare-certified.

Home health agencies provide skilled home care services through physicians, nurses, therapists, social workers, and homemakers that they recruit and supervise. In order to be covered by insurance, however, a physician must prescribe that the services be delivered. Don't hesitate to ask your physician or social worker if she thinks that this kind of service would benefit you and your family.

Medicare will cover some home health services. To qualify, the person must be confined to the home and require part-time intermittent nursing care and physical or speech therapy. Some services are not Medicare-certified. The clients receiving these services will generally pay out of their own pockets. Home care aide agencies provide more informal assistance such as meal preparation, bathing, dressing, and housekeeping. Some states require that they meet minimum standards established by the state. These agencies recruit, train, and supervise their personnel. These services enable people to remain at home and be relatively independent.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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