Health & Medicine

Home Care: The Future of Healthcare

Just last year, the first wave of the country's 78 million baby boomers turned 65. This aging population, along with rising health care costs, is increasing the demand for a new approach to care. Home care services have become a key component to our health care system, as it is the most cost effective form of health care. Offering support and care for patients to recover and be self-sufficient at home, home care is increasingly becoming the preferred choice for patients.

Home care is a service that provides treatment or assistance to a recuperating, chronically ill or disabled person in the home. Home care provides a bridge from the hospital to being self-sufficient in the home. It often enables hospitalized patients to go home sooner, recuperate in a safe environment, and avoid rehospitalization. Nurses, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, medical social workers, and home health aides all make up the team of caregivers who have an expertise in the care of patients in their home.

When a patient chooses home care, a home care provider works directly with his or her doctor to design a plan of care that will produce the best outcome for the patient. Home care staff works with patients prior to discharge, to ensure a smooth transition. Once at home, home care provides comprehensive resources to ensure coordinated services and continuity of care.

Home care is typically provided in short-term phases, lasting approximately 60 days. During these times, a key component of care is education and support. Educating patients and their families is part of the process to help the patient maintain his or her health after the home care period ends. Home care is also structured to provide support and peace of mind for those assisting family members with care at home.

Home health care also includes chronic care management programs, which are designed to help patients with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia, diabetes, skin and wound care problems and joint replacement to understand their condition, manage their health and improve quality of life. There are a number of tools that are utilized within each of these programs to enhance the care of the patient and, ultimately, his or her outcomes. One of these tools is telehealth, which can be used to monitor a patient's blood pressure, weight, and other important indicators.

The goal of home care is to provide care for the patient's medical issue and assist them in returning to an optimum state of health and quality of life. The wide range of home care services and programs available helps patients transition smoothly from the hospital to home, where they can receive excellent care, recover in a safe environment and lead healthy lives.