Skilled health services provided at home, or home health care, can be an important tool for people who have recently had surgery or have health issues that make it difficult to leave the home, but people first need to know what services are available, said Jennifer Windesheim, director of home care operations at HomeCare Maryland.
"It's prescribed by a physician and paid for by Medicare or commercial health insurance," Windesheim said. "The most common services are nursing care or physical therapy, but we also have occupational therapy, speech therapy, home health aids and social worker services."
While home care services typically do not provide custodial services, such as bathing or feeding, Windesheim said they can do a wide variety of other tasks aimed at helping people recover from surgery or illness.
"Therapists can provide services for any patient who has a joint replacement or has deconditioning while they are in the hospital, so they can do strength building and develop a home exercise program for them to help them get back to their baseline," she said. "Our goal is to keep patients out of the hospital, to educate them on ways to care for themselves in their home, to prevent any re-admissions if they came from the hospital or even an admission to a hospital."
This can lead not only to better health outcomes, but to less expensive care, according to Windesheim, especially since Medicare typically covers the full cost of doctor prescribed home care services and most commercial plans include benefits as well.
"The goal is for patients not to spend as much time in the hospital, and to also look at our population and our community needs," she said. "It's been found that home care can provide the best service at the least cost to individuals and to be able to meet their needs where they are, in their environment."
While the population served by home care services tends to be older adults, Windesheim said there are also pediatric and behavioral health services available.
"People just need to understand that we are here, that we are available to them, and we are willing to come out and evaluate patients," she said. "[They should] discuss it with their physician if they feel like they need services."
More information about HomeCare Maryland, which offers home care services in Carroll County, can be found at homecaremaryland.com.