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Need for home health care increasing

Published by Ravalli Republic
Jane Hron, RN
August 28, 2013

Are you or do you know someone who is confined to the home? Is it a considerable and taxing effort to leave home for any reason? Has there recently been a surgery or a significant change in condition making it more difficult to do the things you were capable of doing just weeks or months ago? Do you have multiple health issues and find your living circumstances changing dramatically? Or are you finding your ability to manage your daily activities to remain safe at home changing from what it was weeks or months ago? If so you may qualify for Home Health Services.

The primary goal of Home Health services is to help individuals remain in their home safely, and almost always that is the goal of the individuals we serve. Independence and freedom are values that our culture embraces with great fervor; they are the key values this country was founded upon. The ability to remain in your own home is a strong measure of personal independence and freedom. Home health staff are experts at providing the support individuals need to stay in their home, teaching about medications or diagnoses, how to get up and keep moving safely, how to maintain or improve muscle strength and flexibility, and offering options or resources to support living independently. Individuals and their loved ones are involved in the care provided and are taught to participate and assume responsibility for their health care.

Marcus Daly Home Health is here to serve and have been for more than 25 years. In 1995 for the first time, more people died of chronic disease than of acute disease and this trend has continued. It is becoming clearer as time goes on that the future will be about the management of chronic disease and not acute illness. “With Americans living longer, chronic health issues affecting the elderly are overtaking acute illnesses as a major concern. It is becoming increasingly important to develop and test strategies that will help these vulnerable, at-risk populations live healthier, more independent lives,” said National Institute of Nursing Research Director Dr. Patricia A. Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN. The number of people going into hospitals is fewer and they are spending less time there. This is increasing the need for home health and the number of people being cared for in their home.

There are many reasons for the need and demand for health services to be provided in the home. Our home is our castle, our refuge from the storm. When we are not feeling well we seek the sanctity of our home and there is much scientific evidence that patients heal more quickly at home . . . they sleep better, they eat better, they simply feel better, the sense of freedom and peace you have in your own home cannot be compared to any other setting. Home health has so many benefits. When individuals receive their health care in their own home it helps to keep families together, ensuring ready access and support of loved ones. There is no more important social value than keeping families together, this is especially so during times of illness. In reality home care is the oldest form of health care. Health care has traditionally been given at home throughout the centuries. Modern technology and capabilities have developed to the point where there are very few interventions that our professional home health staff could not provide in the patient’s home. Most health care can be and is actually provided in the home; hospitalization is typically the exception rather than the rule.

Without a doubt illness and injury can increase anxiety and stress. Receiving care at home tends to reduce stress, pressure, and anxiety in many ways. Other settings and forms of health care can cause increased anxiety and stress, increase the risk for infection and the loss of freedom (by necessity institutions are structured, regimented and regulated).

Home care has long been established as the least costly level of care. One study compares care delivered in the home health setting with Skilled Nursing Facilities and Rehabilitation Facility care, and found that home health ranks highest regarding outcomes and cost-effectiveness for patients who have undergone hip or knee replacement. They also cite studies focusing on psychiatric care, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure, and in all instances the utilization of home health care reduced hospitalization, emergency home visits, re-admissions, the cost of care, and in many cases also resulted in significant improvement in functional status for the patient.

A recent article in AARP by Enid Kassner from the AARP Public Policy Institute, states “the Medicaid program can serve about three older people or adults with physical disabilities with home and community based services for the cost of putting one in a nursing home.”

The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation and the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine held a Capitol Hill briefing earlier this year citing a recently released supplement to the journal titled “Optimizing Home Health Care: Enhanced Value and Improved Outcomes.” The supplement compiles articles on advanced models of delivering care at home including specific episodes, the role of technological innovation, palliative treatment at home, the Patient-Centered Medical Home model, and traditional home care. They state “As the number of Medicare beneficiaries rises due to an increasingly aged population, home health care offers potential solutions to rising health care costs by offering medically advanced care at a lower cost than inpatient settings.”

One of the key findings of a 2012 comprehensive analysis of Medicare claims data found that the Medicare program could save as much as $100 billion over the next 10 years if patients were served in more clinically appropriate, cost effective settings and care delivery was restructured, including appropriate and effective use of home health care.

Are you a possible Home Health client? If so, talk with your physician and ask about home health services, or call our office to see if you would qualify. Home Health services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance policies.