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What is Home Care?

Home care is a broad term that describes a wide variety of health and health-related services provided in the home setting. Home care is health care brought to your home to maintain or restore your health and well being. Services include: nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medical social work, in-home aide services, medical equipment and supplies, infusion therapy, respiratory therapy and nutrition. Care provided in the comfort and security of your home through a licensed agency gives you, your family and friends a sense of control and peace of mind. Home care provides a wide range of health and social services to patients and teaches families to help care for their family member. Home care is personalized care that reduces the anxiety and stress associated with most forms of healthcare and allows a maximum amount of freedom for the individual. In most cases, home care also means significant savings in the cost of care when compared to a hospital setting or nursing home.

Millions of Americans rely on home care to stay out of a hospital, nursing home, rest home or other institution, and remain in the comfort of their own homes. There is no more important social value than keeping families together, particularly in time of illness. There is much scientific evidence that patients heal more quickly at home and there is very high consumer satisfaction associated with care delivered in the home.

Home care not only helps add years to life, but also life to years. Studies in the US and abroad show that those receiving home care have higher rates of satisfaction with life.

Who provides home care?
Home care services are usually provided by home care organizations. Home care organizations include: Medicare certified home health agencies; hospices; area agencies on aging, homemaker agencies; staff and private duty nursing agencies. Other companies may be utilized to deliver specialized services and products such as medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, and drug infusion therapy.
How Can I Access Home Care Services?
Patients or family members may directly contact home care agencies to access services. Many agencies are listed in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Your physician may also make recommendations about home care and, if needed, will provide the necessary medical orders for home care services. Home care services may be provided by a variety of organizations, including home health agencies, private duty nursing agencies, in-home aide agencies, councils-on-aging, county departments of social services, home medical equipment companies and home intravenous therapy agencies.
A Word on Patient Choice of Care Provider…
According to the Health Insurance for the Aged and Disabled Act (title XVIII of the Social Security Act), known as “Medicare,” a “patient is free to choose any qualified institution, agency, or person offering him/her services.” In addition, since the Massachusetts Department of Public Health does not “waive” freedom of choice, Medicaid recipients are also free to choose the service provider of their choice.
What services do home health care agencies provide?
Services provided by a home health care agency will vary depending on the agency. Services range from skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech-language therapy, home health aide services, and medical social services to community wellness and adult day health programs. Hospice and palliative care services that assist patients and families with terminal illness are provided by many home health agencies. New medical technologies and specialized services are routinely provided in the home by these agencies. These can include infusion therapy, telemedicine and nutritional therapy.
Who can receive home health care?
People of all ages with acute and chronic health care needs can receive home health care services. Home health care is for persons who require health care from a professional or who need supportive assistance in the home environment. The payer(s) for these services typically determines what type of care is covered and who qualifies. In most cases medical orders from a physician are required for care. It is best to call your local home health agency and ask for assistance.