Home care is a simple phrase that encompasses a wide range of health and social services. These services are delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically or terminally ill persons in need of medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment and/or assistance with the essential activities of daily living. Generally, home care is appropriate whenever a person prefers to stay at home but needs care that cannot be easily or effectively be provided solely by family and friends.
Several factors have positioned home health care for a greater role in the health care delivery system today and in the future. They include:
- Cost-effectiveness. Home health care services may offer significant savings over inpatient care at hospitals and nursing homes.
- Responsiveness. Many home health care agencies offer expanded office hours and are able to make admission visits on evenings and weekends. Care is provided as needed regardless of the time of day through 24-hour on-call service.
- Advanced capabilities. Traditional nursing, rehabilitation and home health aide services have been augmented by specialty programs and services that provide intensive care for those with specific health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or cardiac problems.
- Long-term care. Persons with chronic conditions requiring skilled intervention can often be maintained in the community, thereby preventing institutionalization.
- Flexibility. Home care’s flexible scheduling, settings and services make it possible to design a plan that best meets the needs of the individual and their family.
- Partnership for care through the continuum. Home health care agencies, physicians and other providers are developing clinical protocols to deliver care through the continuum so that all parties involved are contributing to the same goals. This partnership eliminates duplicate efforts and creates an infrastructure for integrated care.
- Valuable perspective. Home health staff visit consumers in their homes, giving them a unique understanding and knowledge of the home situation and family dynamics, critical components in successful care and recovery.