What is Home Care?

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What is Home Care?

Home care services provide assistance to individuals who desire to live in their home but need help with physical, mental or medical issues. Home care services can be used to supplement help received from family and friends, or can be used to provide all the support needed by an individual. Home care services can come from one or many sources and can be tailored to fit the individual's needs to include any number of the following types of services:

  • Light housekeeping
  • Meal preparation
  • Shopping
  • Providing transportation
  • Companionship or supervision
  • Assistance with daily living activities – bathing, dressing, hygiene, getting into and out of bed, etc.
  • Medication reminders
  • Disease management – glucose testing, breathing exercises, etc.
  • Skilled nursing – wound care, medication administration, intravenous nutrition, etc.
  • Physical, speech and other therapies

Who provides Home Care Services?

Home care services can be provided by many different types of caregivers, ranging from medical professionals to unskilled individuals. These individuals can work on their own or they may be employed by a home care agency.

Some home care agencies focus only on care that requires a licensed medical professional, such as a registered nurse or physical therapist. This type of care can sometimes be covered by Medicare and usually follows a discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation facility. These individuals may need continuing medical care at home for a limited period of time.

In order to receive Medicare benefits (MediCal in California), the agency providing this type of care must be a Medicare Certified Provider. There are also home care agencies that do not provide skilled nursing care, but focus instead on what is referred to as personal care – assistance with activities, supervision and other non-skilled services.  Many agencies provide both types of care, skilled and non-skilled.

Home care services provided by an agency are generally available up to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  When you contract with a home care agency, there may be a minimum number of days or hours you are required to use.  Most families want the same caregivers to be present on a routine basis, and agencies will try to accommodate this request to some degree, however it is usually not guaranteed. Substitutions are often necessary due to illness, vacations or staffing fluctuations.

Many families choose to have home health care provided by individuals who work for themselves, not an agency. Individual providers should be asked to provide recent references from previous or current clients and should consent to a criminal background check. Individual providers may be considered to be employees of care recipients or their families. Compensation to these individuals may be required to comply with federal and state regulations regarding employment taxes, income tax withholding, workers compensation and labor laws.

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