Get all the care you need at home

Created date

September 27th, 2019
An older man sits next to a home health care employee.

A main goal of insurance-provided home health is getting you back to independence. Your home health team could include a nurse, a physical therapist, or a home health aide, depending on your specific needs.

Seniors need different types of care in their homes for many reasons, whether it is after surgery, after a medical event such as a stroke, or when moving to a new environment after rehabilitation.

Many seniors qualify for home health care after a hospitalization, but some don’t really know what that provides. “Home health is the episodic care typically covered by health insurance,” says Sam Cross, founder of Broad Street Home Care in Wilmette, Ill. “Treatment or therapy services are prescribed by a doctor to address a very specific medical issue and limited to a relatively short time frame.”

One of the main goals of insurance-provided home health is getting you back to independence. If you have a wound, a nurse will come in to teach you or a family member how to care for it. If you need teaching about how to manage an acute or chronic disease process or new medications, a nurse will come in to teach you as well. If you have trouble getting around, you might have a physical therapist work with you and show you exercises and strategies to safely ambulate.

In addition, some people who are receiving home health care from a nurse or therapist may qualify for limited services from a home health aide. Aides are usually in a few times a week to help with daily activities. 

It seems like a substantial amount of service, and it may suit some seniors just fine. This type of insurance-covered home health care, however, doesn’t provide everything some seniors may need. They may still be left with no help for a large portion of the day.

Home health vs. home care

Cross considers home care as services that fill in the blanks of home health. “Home health can only do so much,” Cross says. “That’s where home care comes in—helping with things you take for granted, like getting up in the morning, getting dressed, and everything involved with going about your daily routine.”

“It is a good service for people who don’t have support from family or someone else to help them,” Cross adds. “We provide our caregivers with targeted, medically focused training, and collaborative oversight from registered nurses. As a result, we can support clients with certain medical conditions in a personalized way.”

Cross’s professionals are specifically trained to manage underlying health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and many more. “They are aware of the subtle signs that might mean symptoms are getting worse,” Cross says. 

Concierge support services

These types of personalized services are increasingly becoming referred to as concierge care. Typically, these types of services are not covered by health insurance, but they may be covered by long-term care insurance or a private pay arrangement.

Another model of concierge care can be found at Erickson Living communities. Called home support services, they are tied in with the rest of the home health and medical system at the communities. “We collaborate with the home health team, so we are in touch with who is receiving home health services,” says Samantha Appler, director of home care operations at Erickson Living. “As part of the discharge process for home health, home support services are always considered to keep residents independent and ensure they continue with their goals from home health.  

“We can seamlessly transition someone to nursing and personalized assistant services that are part of home support,” she adds. “Medication management by a registered nurse is a popular service when people are discharged from home health.”

Also, “If people have been receiving physical, occupational, or speech-language therapies, we transition them to outpatient services once they are discharged from home health,” Appler says.

Health benefits of concierge care 

“Your likelihood of going back to the hospital increases without personalized help at home,” Cross says. “There is plenty of scientific evidence to show that healthy behaviors such as physical activity, eating well, and mental activity help the body heal.” 

You have to strike a balance between being active and overdoing it. “Besides helping with daily activities, our personal assistants can do light housekeeping services—helping with laundry, light cleaning, making the bed, pet care, doing the dishes, vacuuming, and so forth,” Appler says. 

Isolation is a reality for some seniors if they are struggling with health conditions or if they are in a new environment. Research shows that a lack of social contact takes a serious toll on your health. “Some people simply benefit from the companionship of a personal assistant,” Appler says. “They can help new residents navigate the communities and meet other people by taking them to the dining rooms, activities, and clubs.”

After getting home from the hospital, going out for multiple doctor’s office visits, therapies, or other services such as wound care can be exhausting and take a toll on your health. 

“Our residents can have their personal assistant accompany them to therapies, the doctor’s office, or other errands,” Appler explains. “Their personal assistant can also run errands for them if needed.”

It’s all about getting what you need and keeping you healthy. “At Erickson Living, home support services are personalized to meet the resident’s needs,” Appler says. “In addition, we are part of an integrated health system at the communities, so we can be in touch with their doctor and help coordinate health care.”