Understanding and choosing the right care option for your loved one
If you or a loved one is coping with a serious illness, or recovering from surgery or injury, it's helpful to know what the differences are among various types of care as you consider your options for the best source of help.Posted — Updated
Terms used to describe healthcare services provided at a patient’s home can be confusingly similar. Yet, there are significant differences between the types of care and their intended purpose.
If you or a loved one is coping with a serious illness, or recovering from surgery or injury, it's helpful to know what the differences are among various types of care as you consider your options for the best source of help.
"Deciding what care is right for you or your loved one at home depends greatly on what the care is intended to do and how long the care is needed," said Jackie Ring, PhD, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, vice president of clinical services at Transitions LifeCare.
Descriptions and criteria for care can vary by state; below is information that is specific to North Carolina.
"A helping hand for the long term points to home care," Ring explained.
The intent of home health is for the patient to recover from the illness or injury through medical care and/or therapy.
Ring pointed out, "Skilled medical care for up to two or three months with a goal of recovery calls for home health."
Medicare, Medicaid and certain private insurance contracts cover the cost of services, including skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, and services from a home health aide and social worker.
Home health also is used for a short term to train patients about home care for a new disease or stage of illness; administering a new medication; or introducing a process new to the patient, such as catheterization.
"Expert care to provide comfort and quality of life, without seeking a cure during life's final months, indicates the need for hospice services," Ring said.
Hospice staff are specially trained in end-of-life care and are experts in specialties, such as managing pain and other symptoms.
The hospice team can include physicians, nurses, certified nursing assistants, social workers, licensed therapists, home health aides, chaplains, and grief counselors. Hospice care offers a holistic approach of caring for the patient and their family physically, emotionally and spiritually.
In addition, hospice services include having prescriptions related to the terminal illness and necessary medical equipment, such as a hospital bed and wheelchair, delivered to the patient's home.
Hospice care typically is covered in full by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance companies.
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