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This website contains seven sections to help people make good decisions about home care and related concerns.

Why Choose Home Care?
Why home care should be the first stop when you need medical care for more for few days, weeks, months or even years.

Starting the Conversation
Five questions you should ask to figure out how home care could fit into your care.

Selecting the Right Provider
There are a few considerations before picking up the phone and getting service, such as insurance, location, and quality.

Insurance and Payment
While home health is an incredible value, this section lays out who and how services get paid for.

Legal Concerns
Planning for the worst is not always pleasant, but it is best to plan for your future while you are at your most capable. This section covers Power of Attorney, wills, advanced directives and more.

Continuum of Care Definitions
Home care is not the only option out there and is not always the right choice based on your health. This section examines some of the other options to help you decide what might be best for you.

Find a Provider
A directory of medical and private duty providers across the state.

Click here to find a Medicare-certified home health provider.

Click here to find a private duty home care provider.

What is Home Care?

Quite simply, it is medical care and other necessary services delivered in the home. Home care is an excellent cost-effective alternative to institutional care.

Home care is both the oldest and newest form of health care. Traditionally given at home throughout the centuries, home care now is taking advantage of modern technologies, making virtually anything that can be done in a hospital available at home. Home care is the most cost effective and satisfying type of health service available.

It encompasses a broad spectrum of both health and social services, delivered to recovering, disabled or chronically ill persons to their own homes. People of all ages can benefit from home care services, including individuals who; have conditions such as congestive heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, muscle-nerve problems or respiratory diseases; are terminally ill and want to die in dignity and comfort at home; are able to be discharged from a hospital or nursing home but need additional care at home; require short-term assistance at home because of same-day or outpatient surgery or maternity-related incapacity.

Who Provides Home Care?

Home care providers deliver a wide variety of health care and supportive services, ranging from professional nursing and HCA care to physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies. They also may provide social work and nutritional care and laboratory, dental, optical, pharmacy, podiatry, x-ray, and medical equipment and supply services. Services for the treatment of medical conditions usually are prescribed by an individual's physician. Supportive services, however, do not require a physician's orders. An individual may receive a single type of care or a combination of services, depending on the complexity of his or her needs. Home care services can be provided by the following professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers.

Physicians visit patients in their homes to diagnose and treat illnesses just as they do in hospitals and private offices. They also work with home care providers to determine which services are needed by patients, which specialists are most suitable to render these services, and how often these services need to be provided. With this information, physicians prescribe and oversee patient plans of care. Under Medicare, physicians and home health agency personnel review these plans of care as often as required by the severity of patient medical conditions at least once every 62 days. The interdisciplinary team reviews the care plans for hospice patients and their families at least once a month, or as frequently as patient conditions and/or family circumstances require.

Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) provide skilled services that cannot be performed safely and effectively by nonprofessional personnel. Some of these services include injections and intravenous therapy, wound care, education on disease treatment and prevention, and patient assessments. RNs may also provide case management services. RNs have received two or more years of specialized education and are licensed to practice by the state. LPNs have one year of specialized training and are licensed to work under the supervision of registered nurses. The intricacy of a patient's medical condition and required course of treatment determine whether care should be provided by an RN or can be provided by an LPN.

Physical therapists (PTs) work to restore the mobility and strength of patients who are limited or disabled by physical injuries through the use of exercise, massage, and other methods. PTs often alleviate pain and restore injured muscles with specialized equipment. They also teach patients and caregivers special techniques for walking and transfer.

Social workers evaluate the social and emotional factors affecting ill and disabled individuals and provide counseling. They also help patients and their family members identify available community resources. Social workers often serve as case managers when patients' conditions are so complex that professionals need to assess medical and supportive needs and coordinate a variety of services.

Speech language pathologists work to develop and restore the speech of individuals with communication disorders; usually these disorders are the result of traumas such as surgery or stroke. Speech therapists also help retrain patients in breathing, swallowing, and muscle control.

Occupational therapists (OTs) help individuals who have physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems that prevent them from performing the general activities of daily living (ADLs). OTs instruct patients on using specialized rehabilitation techniques and equipment to improve their function in tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing, and basic household routines.

Dietitians provide counseling services to individuals who need professional dietary assessment and guidance to properly manage an illness or disability.

HCAs/home health aides assist patients with ADLs such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, toileting, and dressing. Some aides have received special training and are qualified to provide more complex services under the supervision of a nursing professional.

Homemaker and chore workers perform light household duties such as laundry, meal preparation, general housekeeping, and shopping. Their services are directed at maintaining patient households rather than providing hands-on assistance with personal care.

Companions provide companionship and comfort to individuals who, for medical and/or safety reasons, may not be left at home alone. Some companions may assist clients with household tasks, but most are limited to providing sitter services.

Volunteers meet a variety of patient needs. The scope of a volunteer's services depends on his or her level of training and experience. Volunteer activities include, but are not limited to providing companionship, emotional support, and counseling and helping with personal care, paperwork, and transportation.

Contact Us

Iowa Alliance in Home Care | 100 E. Grand Ave, Suite 118, Des Moines, IA 50309 | Phone: (515) 288-1955