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Home health care

You are likely 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:

  • Get into and out of a chair or bed without much help
  • Walk around with your cane, crutches, or walker
  • Walk between your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen
  • Go up and down stairs

Help you may need

Going home does not mean you no longer need medical care. You may need help:

  • Doing simple, prescribed exercises
  • Changing wound dressings
  • Taking 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
  • Buying, preparing, and serving meals
  • Buying household supplies or running errands
  • Personal care, such as bathing, dressing, or grooming

Family members of friends

While you may have family and friends to help, they must be able to do all the tasks and provide all the help you need to ensure you have a quick and safe recovery.

If not, talk to the hospital social worker or discharge nurse about getting help in your home. They may be able to have someone come to your home and determine what help you may need.

Types of homecare

Besides family members and friends, many different types of 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 to have these providers visit your home. Your health insurance will often pay for these visits if you have a referral. But you should still make sure it is covered.

Other types of assistance are available for tasks or issues that do not require the medical knowledge of nurses and therapists. Names of some of these professionals include:

  • Home health aide (HHA)
  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
  • Caregiver
  • Direct support person
  • Personal care attendant

Sometimes, insurance will pay for visits from these professionals, as well.

References

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Home health care: what it is and what to expect. http://www.medicare.gov/what-medicare-covers/home-health-care/home-health-care-what-is-it-what-to-expect.html. Accessed on May 11, 2014.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare and home health care. http://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10969.pdf. Accessed on May 11, 2014.

Updated: 5/11/2014

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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