Below are some frequently asked questions about home health care services:
1. What is home health care?
Home health care is an excellent, cost-effective alternative to hospital or other institutional care. Service is based on the individual’s need as defined by his or her physician’s plan of care and may range from 24-hour-a-day care to monthly visits from skilled nurses, therapists, social workers and/or home health aides.
2. What are the advantages of home health care?
In many cases, home health care permits a person to be discharged earlier from a hospital, reduces hospital admissions, and assists with a more rapid recovery. Most importantly, people are happier at home and receive more care and attention from family, friends and home health care professionals. In addition, home health allows patients to maintain their independent lifestyle while offering extra care and medical attention when its needed.
3. Who uses home health care?
People of all ages use home health care services-from senior citizens to young children. Some examples include:
- individuals who are able to be discharged from a hospital or other facility but need additional care
- those who are terminally ill and want to live their final days with dignity surrounded by their loved ones in the comfort of their own home
- individuals with short-term health needs
- those who wish to remain at home but need some assistance due to age or disability
- individuals who require information and education about their disease processes and instruction on how to best care for themselves.
4. What types of home care agencies are there?
There are several different classifications of home care agencies. In Texas the Department of Aging and Disability (DADS) certifies and surveys all home care, hospice, and personal assistive services agencies.
Certified home health care agencies comply with Medicare and Medicaid regulations. An individual’s Medicare benefit defines the conditions that qualify for service. The need for service typically arises after hospitalization or a significant change in medical condition. Care is prescribed by a physician and is generally restricted to skilled services that may include nursing; physical, occupational or speech/language therapy; medical social work; and/or home health aides to assist with personal care needs. While a physician must prescribe care, the patient has the right to select the provider of his/her choice.
Private Duty Agencies
Private duty agencies offer a wide variety of services including medical and nonmedical care. For example, private duty services, in addition to nursing, could include assistance with shopping, laundry, meals and companionship. The patient/family generally incur the cost of care, although some insurance plans may also cover all or a portion of it.
5. What types of professionals comprise the home health care team?
The home health care team consists of physicians, nurses, home health aides, medical social workers and therapists who coordinate care based on an individual’s needs.
6. Who pays for home health care services?
Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurances may cover the cost of home health care services. Some insurance policies will not cover all home health care services unless certain conditions are met. You can still obtain care without insurance coverage through a private duty agency on a private pay basis.
7. How does service begin?
A physician, patient or family member can initiate service. However, Medicare, Medicaid and most insurances require physician oversight. Once the physician prescribes home health care, he/she authorizes a coordinated treatment plan, commonly called a “plan of care,” and periodically reviews services and the patient’s progress.
8. How do I choose the right agency for my loved ones needs?
Information regarding home health care services can be obtained from many sources. Home Health Compare is a website run by Medicare that can assist you in finding an agency you feel comfortable with. They offer results of patient surveys and performance statistics based on actual patient information.
9. Additional questions you may want to ask a prospective home health care agency, along with Signature Health Service’s answers, appear below:
How long has an agency been serving the community?
Signature Health Services is a fast-growing, innovative home health agency serving southeast Texas with quality home health services since 1995. Our management team, which has been together since 1999, is dedicated to developing great relationships with the medical community in southeast Texas.
Does the agency have information explaining its services, fees, and eligibility requirements?
Signature’s dedicated clinical and administrative staff would be glad to
answer in depth any question you may have regarding home health care and what
is inclusive of the home care model.
How does the provider select and train its employees?
Signature Health Service’s professional staff is handpicked and
rigorously trained to meet the expectations of the patient and current
healthcare regulations outlined by CMS.
Each individual is thoroughly vetted through a series of background
checks and their clinical skills are verified by one of our seasoned staff
before they are introduced into the field.
Are nurses or therapists required to evaluate the patient’s home care needs? If so, what does this involve?
Signature’s staff will complete a thorough assessment based on your
physician’s recommendations and as outlined by CMS’s standards for admitting a
patient to home health services. A Registered Nurse evaluates each patient upon admission and if therapy services have been ordered by the physician a therapist will conduct a separate evaluation.
Will the provider consult the patient’s physicians and family members?
Each patient’s primary care physician is an integral part of the home health process. Signature continually communicates and consults with your physician to ensure you receive coordinated care of the highest level.
Your family members are also an important key to your success to achieve your rehabilitation goals. Our staff will educate your family members and care givers to ensure you have the best outcomes during the duration of your care.
Does this provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes? (If so, how often do these individuals make visits?)
Signature Health Service’s staff is comprised of clinical team leaders and case managers that work closely with our field staff to ensure you have the highest quality of care. At any time, if there are questions or additional measures that need to be implemented, a clinical supervisor will be dispatched for a visit.
Who can the patient and his or her family members contact with questions or complaints?
We pride ourselves on real time communication and resolving all problems
in a timely manner. Our clinical and administrative staff would be glad to address
any questions or complaints you may have.
How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?
Once Signature Health Services is notified of a complaint, our clinical
leadership immediately contact any involved parties to begin addressing the
problem. We strive for outstanding customer service.