From hospital to home: Services benefit patients and families

Debbie Gossage

Debbie Gossage

This month is National Home Care and Hospice Month, and while home care and hospice are two separate programs, the two often find themselves working toward the same goal: to provide the right care at the right time.

What makes them different, and what exactly can patients expect? First, for home care, Dorothy said it all in The Wizard of Oz, “There's no place like home.” That's especially true for those recovering from an illness or surgery, as the therapeutic impact of being in familiar surroundings with loved ones close by can have a dramatic effect on recovery.

To receive home health services, such as those provided by Blount Memorial Home Services, homebound patients must be under the care of a physician and in need of skilled nursing care or therapy on an intermittent basis. Based on the medical condition, care can be provided by one clinician or a team of highly trained professionals.

In-home telemonitoring, used by Blount Memorial Home Services, assists a patient's home care team in administering consistent patient care. With this service, a small device provides a patient's daily vital signs including weight, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation level. Information is transmitted to Home Services where a nurse reviews the data. By responding to potential problems quickly, care providers can help patients avoid costly returns to the hospital.

At Blount Memorial, there's also an added bonus for home care patients, as education is part of the care patients receive. Disease management programs for conditions such as heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, wound care, diabetes, dysphagia and anticoagulation therapy, not only educate, but also promote confidence in self-management after patients are discharged.

Hospice, a service that helps those diagnosed with a terminal illness or those with chronic illnesses at their end stages, also is carried out in the home - but can also be provided to patients in a nursing home, assisted living facility or another location - including a hospital.

The most difficult question many people ask is, “How do you know when hospice is the right program?” The answer to that, according to Blount Memorial Palliative Care, is that if you're thinking about it, it's time to call. Some things to look for include whether the patient is getting sicker, even with frequent doctor visits; is losing weight; is showing a declining appetite; has decreased energy levels; and/or is unable to perform daily tasks.

Patients that can benefit from hospice care are those who want to receive medical care that makes them comfortable and who would like to ensure their families are supported. This is an important time for both patient and the family. Financial assistance is available, as hospice is a Medicare benefit that's covered 100 percent. Medical equipment, medications for the patient's primary illness and symptom management - and all staff visits - are provided at no cost to you. Many private insurance companies also have hospice benefits.

To learn more about either of these services during November’s observance of National Home Care and Hospice Month, call Blount Memorial Hospital at 865-983-7211.

Debbie Gossage is the community liaison for Blount Memorial Home Services.

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