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Home health care

Almost everyone is excited about going home after being in the hospital, skilled nursing center, or rehabilitation facility.

You should probably be able to go home once you are able to do the following:

  • Get into and out of a chair or bed without much help
  • Know how to walk around with your cane, crutches, or walker
  • Walk between your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen
  • Go up and down any stairs that you will need to use

Help You May Need

Going home from the hospital or facility does not mean you no longer need medical care. You may need help:

  • Performing simple prescribed exercises
  • Changing wound dressings
  • Giving medicines, fluids, or feedings through catheters that have been placed into your veins
  • Learning to monitor your blood pressure, your weight, or your heart rate
  • Managing urine catheters and wounds
  • Taking your medicines correctly

Also, you may still need help taking care of yourself at home. Common needs include help with:

  • Moving in and out of beds, baths, or cars
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Emotional support
  • Changing bed linens, washing and ironing laundry, and cleaning
  • Purchasing, preparing, and serving meals
  • Obtaining household supplies or running errands
  • Helping with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, or grooming

Family Members or Friends

While you may have family members or friends around to help, it is important to make sure there will be enough help to ensure you have a quick and safe recovery.

Family and friends must be able to do all of the tasks and provide all of the help you need.

If not, you can talk to the hospital social worker or discharge nurse about getting help in your home. Sometimes, they will arrange for someone to come to the home and determine what help you may need.

Types of Homecare

Besides family members and friends, many different types of home care providers can come into your home to help with movement and exercises, wound care, and daily living.

Home health care nurses can help manage problems with your wound, other medical problems, and any medications that you may be taking.

Physical and occupational therapists can make sure your home is set up so that it will be easy and safe to move around and take care of yourself. They may also help with exercises when you first get home.

You will need a referral from your doctor in order to have home health care nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists visit your home. Your insurance will often pay for these visits if you have a referral. However, you should still make sure it is covered beforehand.

Other types of assistance are available for tasks or issues that do not require the clinical expertise of nurses and therapists. Names of some of these professionals include: Home Health Aide (HHA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Caregiver, Direct Support Person, and Personal Care Attendant. Sometimes, insurance may pay for these also.

Updated: 5/11/2012

C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.


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