Ok, so if you Google “Senior Home Care” or “Home Care” you’re going to get a WHOLE BUNCH of stuff that all sounds the same, but it isn’t. So let’s break it apart into separate buckets so you can better manage those Google results or any other resources you may be exploring.
- Non-Medical Care – Homemaker/Companion and Personal Care (covered in last post)
- Medical Care – Home Health Care and Hospice Care (below)
Home Health Care
Home HEALTH care is exactly what it sounds like, skilled medical care. This kind of care is what a senior needs when he or she has a medical condition that can improve with nursing care such as broken bones, sprains, wounds, infections, post-surgical recovery, and even cancer.
Home health care providers send out licensed practical nurses (LPNs), registered nurses (RNs) and physical and occupational therapists (PT and OT) to seniors in their home to help them to recover from their conditions. The “episodes of care” that insurers will cover are quite short, just 30-60 days typically, although it depends on the case. Generally speaking though, the goal is to aggressively help someone heal, throwing a lot of care at them at the outset and trying to quickly get them back to more stability.
Some of these providers will also provide ongoing Personal Care, but there are many that do not, and MORE IMPORTANTLY,
ongoing Personal Care is NOT PAID FOR by insurance or Medicare, so if the payer isn’t there, the company cannot provide those services.
We cover the issue of who pays for all these types of home care in other posts, but it’s important to realize the MEDICARE, MEDICARE ADVANTAGE and MEDICAL INSURANCE only cover home HEALTH care, and only until they believe the patient has recovered enough to no longer need that care. If they do cover any personal care, at this time it is generally very small hours. Sometimes an insurer will tell you that they will cover “up to 35 hours” or something that sounds substantial, but that’s not really how it works for most patients. Most patients are only covered for personal care very short hours.
One reason it gets confusing when you Google is because home health agencies may call themselves “HOME CARE” and you don’t know then exactly what kind of home care. You’ll have to dig a little more to find out – do they provide home health care or personal care or both?
Hospice and Palliative Care
Many people are under the impression that hospice care only happens in a hospice facility. Actually a great deal of hospice care is now happening in the home, where the senior feels most relaxed and safe.
In addition to hospice care, most hospice organizations also offer palliative (ie – pain control) care, which is not necessarily tied to end-of-life diagnoses.
While you might assume that when a senior is referred to hospice care that hospice will provide all that the senior needs, we’ve found this often isn’t the case as we’ve worked hand-in-hand beside hospice in some end-of-life cases. Hospice may have limited hours, meaning they can’t be with the senior 24/7 and the family may want or need a licensed caregiver to be present to help with medication assist when hospice is not available.