Many of us have fallen ill while on vacation, visiting relatives or on a business trip. We wake up to find we are sick, only to realize we are without the conveniences of home. Sure, we have a bed in which to rest, we can get medications at any pharmacy and orange juice is sold just about anywhere, but it’s still not home. Most of us would agree that if we have to be sick, there’s no place like home. We feel more comfortable, we’re more at ease and we might even get better quicker.
According to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, 7.6 million individuals currently experience this first-hand. With November being National Home Care Month, it’s the perfect time to remind yourself of the home care option. While home care agencies have been providing services to individuals for more than a century, the availability of services in the home has greatly expanded. It’s much more than your own bed, medications and orange juice.
While many people are aware that home care involves a variety of health care services, many don’t know the full extent of what this can entail. While nursing routinely provides disease management and lab work, other services also are available. Patients may receive I.V. therapy and removal, urinary catheter insertion and care, and wound care including wound vacs and tracheostomy care.
Patients also have access to telemonitoring, which is a daily transmission of vitals signs from a patient’s home to a central station in the care provider’s office. This allows the nursing staff to manage various diseases and help prevent physical decline or rehospitalization - all from home.
Physical therapy in the home places a great deal of emphasis on patients achieving and maintaining an optimal functional level. This allows some patients to stay in their own homes as long as possible, rather than requiring a stay at a health care facility. In addition to exercise, this may involve ultrasound or electrical stimulation treatment provided at home. Transcutaenous electrical nerve stimulation also may be provided for pain management or other uses. Some homes may benefit from modifications or equipment to assist in a patient’s recovery. An occupational therapist can address these needs at any home visit.
Home care social work staff address any psychosocial needs a patient may have to enhance his or her ability to recuperate most effectively. Financial strain can be common for those individuals who are unable to work or with limited income. Assistance is provided to assure that all appropriate benefits are being received for each patient, allowing needed medications or equipment to be obtained. Issues of depression, isolation, anxiety and caregiver stress also are addressed to reduce the negative impact these issues may have on recovery.
Even though care is being given in the home, it’s obvious to see how patients might just get better a little quicker - with all the same conveniences and expertise offered through a hospital or medical facility. And that’s something to be thankful for.
Susan Lohr is a licensed clinical social worker with Blount Memorial Home Services.