Often when physicians or hospital staff say “Home Health”, they mean that the skills of a healthcare professional, like a registered nurse or therapist, are still needed after your hospitalization to provide continued assistance with your recovery. This might be to continue intravenous antibiotics you have been receiving, draw blood, assess a surgical site, change wound dressings, continue to assist you with mobility, assess your progress, or provide other services that your physician has ordered for you.There are companies in the community, called home health agencies, which employ nurses & therapists who specialize in providing services in patient homes. These healthcare professionals will come to your home for a specific time period as specified by your physician (for example, twice a week for six weeks). They report your status to your physician on an ongoing basis. Home health nurses & therapists, then, become the link to your physician so that he or she can stay apprised of your condition and be notified promptly should you require additional care or attention.
The home health staff provides and helps coordinate the care and/or therapy your doctor orders. Along with the doctor, home health staff creates a plan of care, which is a written plan for your care. It tells what services you will get to reach and keep your best physical, mental, and social well-being. The home health staff keeps your doctor up to date on how you are doing and updates your plan of care as needed, as authorized by your doctor.
The need for home health care has grown for many reasons. Medical science and technology have improved. Many treatments that could once be done only in a hospital can now be done at home. Also, home health care is usually less expensive and can often be just as effective as care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility. And just as important, most patients and their families prefer to stay at home rather than be in a hospital or a nursing home.
While you get home health care, home health staff teach you (and your caregiver ) to continue any care you may need, including medication, wound care, therapy, and stress management. Since most home health care is intermittent and part-time, you (and your informal caregivers) should learn how to identify and care for possible problems, like confusion or shortness of breath.
The goal of short-term home health care is to provide treatment for an illness or injury. It helps you get better, regain your independence, and become as self-sufficient as possible. The goal of long-term home health care (for chronically ill or disabled people) is to maintain your highest level of ability or health, and help you learn to live with your illness or disability.
* (Parts of the explanation above have been excerpted from the Medicare & Home Health Care Manual.)