Whether you are looking at home care services for yourself or someone close to you, the questions you should ask are the same:
Does my condition allow me to stay in my home?
For most people, the answer is yes. Home health care can provide a range of services including wound care, physical therapy, and home infusion of drugs. Home medical equipment providers can set up an oxygen machine. Private duty providers can help prepare meals and run errands. It is very likely that one or two agencies in your area can provide you with everything you need to stay at home for a very long time.
However, home care is not appropriate in every situation. It could be difficult or impossible for those who live with dementia or for individuals who require more than two hours of medical care each day to stay in their homes.
Is it financial feasible?
Home medical care is far less expensive than assisted living, long-term care, or a hospital and is covered by insurance so the answer is usually yes. Private insurance providers, such as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and government policies like Medicare and Medicaid cover home health care from certified agencies. Most insurance plans require a prior authorization/prior approval before care is given as well as a treatment planned signed off by a doctor, so be sure to work with your home health agency to make sure this is done before treatment at home starts.
While private duty services are generally not covered by insurance, they are still far more cost effective than living in a skilled nursing or assisted living facility. There is no reason to pay for an entire day of services when you really only need help for an hour or two each day.
What do I want?
This is usually the easiest question, as most people want to stay in their homes as long as possible. Home health helps people stay in the most familiar setting available (their home) and preserve as much of their lives as possible while providing necessary care.
Home health providers can tend to most of the medical needs that a person might receive in a skilled nursing facility and at a much lower cost.
While some people rely on a spouse, family or friends for non-medical needs such as help getting dressed and running errands, private duty care can also provide those services, either when the primary caregiver needs a break or on a permanent basis.
Is there a home care agency in my area?
No matter where you live in Iowa, there is a home care agency that can provide some level of service. However, you may need to check with several organizations to find the services you need. For instance, not all home care agencies provide IV infusion therapy at home (such as IV antibiotics). And many health care agencies do not private duty services such as assistance with bathing or running errands.
To see a list of home health providers, click here. To see a list of private duty providers, click here.
What happens if my health changes?
The purpose of home care is to keep people in their homes, near their families and in their communities, for as long as possible. It should be the first stop on a continuum of care that could include assisted living, long-term care, hospital care and other forms of medical care. Your plan (see Legal Concerns) should clearly state your intentions.
There are circumstances when stays in the hospital and skilled nursing facilities are unavoidable. However, home care is often part of a discharge plan to continue medical care once less intensive treatment is needed.