Most people want to grow older in the comfort of their home, but many need extra support to be able to do so. There are many types of at-home health care that can help. There are also many misconceptions about the types of care offered in the home setting. This can make it hard to know what kind of care would be right for you.
Here are some common myths about home health care, and the facts to help you decide if home health could be an option for you:
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The 10 Common Myths of Home Health care
Myth #1: Home health care is too expensive.
Home health is covered by Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance companies, if you meet the eligibility requirements. Home health is sometimes confused with other types of in-home health services, such as private personal home care, that are often paid out-of-pocket. But these services are different from home health care, which is a very affordable option for at-home health care if you qualify.
Myth # 2: Home health care is low-quality compared to the care provided in hospitals and facilities.
Trusted organizations like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have stated that home health care is “just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility.” Home health companies employ licensed, skilled professionals. These individuals can provide similar types of care as a hospital but in a setting that is less rushed and more comfortable.
In addition to having medical knowledge and experience, an advantage of home health care is that the team would come to your home. They can evaluate other needs you may have, such as an organized system to manage medications or ways to make you more comfortable and avoid further injury.
Not all home health companies are the same in terms of quality. Be sure to visit Medicare’s Home Health Compare website to find the highest quality home health agency near you. Also make sure the home health provider is licensed by the state and Medicare-certified. This helps ensure the program you choose meets federal health and safety requirements.
Myth #3: Getting home health care means losing my independence.
The opposite is true. The purpose of home health care is to preserve your independence and keep you safe at home as long as possible. Your home health team will give you tips and tools and check in to see how you’re doing. They don’t do this to impede your freedom, but rather so you can continue safely managing daily tasks on your own, even after your home health services end.
Myth #4: I already get personal care/home care, so I don’t need home health care.
Home health services are different from home care. They include skilled care from professionals such as registered nurses and speech, occupational and physical therapists. Even if you get home care services like help with housekeeping, cooking or personal care, you can also receive home health care if you qualify.
Myth #5: I can’t trust a stranger in my home.
A quality home health provider does thorough staff screenings and ongoing trainings. This helps ensure the team going into your home is one you can trust. Experienced home health professionals quickly build rapport, getting to know you and helping you feel at ease. While you may not know your team at first, within a few visits many patients say their home health team starts to feel like a second family.
Myth #6: I already have a family member caring for me, so I don’t need home health.
Family caregivers play an essential role in keeping you safe at home. Home health providers cannot replace family caregivers, but they can offer an additional layer of support. For example, nurses are trained medical professionals who can provide wound care, catherization and other services most family members cannot provide. Your home health team also provides support and education for your caregiver, who may be feeling a lot of stress.
Myth #7: Home health care is only for people who were recently discharged from the hospital or a rehab facility.
If you qualify for home health care, you can be referred directly by your doctor, without being in a hospital or rehab facility. This is often the case for eligible individuals managing multiple chronic health conditions, as well as for those who were recently diagnosed with a serious illness or who are struggling to manage daily tasks.
Myth # 8: I have to be bedbound to get home health care.
Some people confuse Medicare’s homebound requirement with being bedbound. You do have to be homebound for Medicare to reimburse for home health services. Homebound means, generally, that you normally are unable to leave your home without assistance, and that, if you are able to leave for brief intervals, it requires a considerable and taxing effort. You do not have to be bedbound (unable to get out of bed) to receive home health care.
Myth # 9: I have to need nursing care to get home health care.
Home health does care for people with nursing needs. However, patients can get home health care even if they only need therapy, such as speech therapy or physical therapy.
Myth # 10: You have to be very sick to get home health care.
Home health care companies do treat people with serious, chronic illnesses. However, they also treat people recovering from a surgery, illness or injury. For example, your doctor might order home health after you’re discharged from a hospital or rehab facility. Or they might order occupational or physical therapy to help preserve your ability to move after hip surgery or re-learn skills after a stroke. A home health team can also teach you how to manage your medications or spot troubling symptoms that could lead to more serious problems later.
Home health care is life-changing for many people. Unfortunately, myths about home health care keep people from getting in-home care that can help them get back to doing the things they love.