Home health care is an essential, integral part of health care today, touching the lives of nearly every American.

What is home care?

Home care is a broad range of professional health care and support services provided in peoples' homes. People who are recovering from an illness or accident, disabled, chronically or terminally ill, most often use these services. Typically home care is appropriate when a person can safely stay at home but still needs ongoing care that cannot easily or effectively be provided solely by family and friends. As hospital stays decrease, increasing numbers of patients need highly skilled services when they return home.

Who provides home care?

Home care services are usually provided by home care organizations. Home care organizations include: Medicare certified home health agencies (VNAs); hospices; area agencies on aging, homemaker agencies; staff and private duty nursing agencies. Other companies may be utilized to deliver specialized services and products such as medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, and drug infusion therapy. Refer to How to Choose a Home Care Agency when selecting the appropriate type of service.

What services do home health care agencies provide?

Services provided by a home health care agency will vary depending on the agency. VNA services range from skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech-language therapy, home health aide services, and medical social services to community wellness and adult day health programs. Hospice and palliative care services that assist patients and families with terminal illness are provided by many VNAs. New medical technologies and specialized services are routinely provided in the home by VNAs. These can include infusion therapy, telemedicine and nutritional therapy.
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Who can receive home health care?

People of all ages with acute and chronic health care needs can receive home health care services. Home health care is for persons who require health care from a professional or who need supportive assistance in the home environment. The payer(s) for these services typically determines what type of care is covered and who qualifies. In most cases medical orders from a physician are required for care. It is best to call your local VNA and ask for assistance.

When are home health care services available?

Home health care services provided by a VNA are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year depending on the needs of the patient.

Will my insurance cover home health care?

If the care is medically necessary and the patient meets certain coverage requirements, Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans will usually pay for home health care services. Medicaid coverage varies depending on the state in which you reside and of course, different private insurance carriers have different policies. For services that are not covered, patients may choose to pay out of their own pocket. Community groups subsidize some agencies and some receive funding from local and state government to assist patients in paying for their care when they have no available resources.
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How do I choose the right home health care agency?

There are many important factors to consider in choosing the best agency to meet your needs. First you must assess what types of services you will need and find an agency that offers those services. Ask the agencies you are considering about their accreditations, licenses and certifications. You'll also want to evaluate the quality of care, and the skills and training of personnel at the agencies under consideration.
Click here for a more detailed discussion of factors to consider when Choosing a Home Health Care Agency.

What do I do if there is a problem?

If you've selected your home health agency carefully, you'll most likely receive high-quality, safe, and effective home care. If a problem develops or if you would like to issue a complaint, notify the agency administrator or chief supervisor. You may also issue a complaint to your state's department of health, Medicare hot line or your local Better Business Bureau.

What are my rights as a patient?

Federal law dictates that all home health care patients be informed of their rights and responsibilities. Your local VNA can provide you with a summary of patient's rights and responsibilities that are consistent with state laws.

How do I find a VNA in my area?

To Find A VNA near you, simply enter your zip code in the Find a VNA Search Window in the upper left hand corner.

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