Home health care may offer several advantages for individuals, such as the ability to receive some medical care in the comfort of home, making it easier for family and friends to visit, as well as allowing the patient to remain at home during a long illness. However, home health care also carries disadvantages, especially for the elderly. Learn about the disadvantages of home health care so you are better able to ask questions regarding care and services for yourself or a loved one.
Some home health care agencies are not well staffed or trained. Some are only able to offer a small number of services, like bathing and dressing. However, additional support services (i.e., cooking, shopping, housekeeping) are often needed as well.
Dealing with Emergencies
Home health care staffing is usually only available during normal business hours. Emergency situations will need to be referred to local emergency room care in the event a patient in a home health care setting needs any type of "after-hours" treatment or aid.
While many individuals would prefer to be at home instead of in a hospital setting for long-term illnesses or terminal situations, many family members feel woefully inadequate to care for their loved one in a home health setting. Many are concerned about a loved one dying in the home, so it's important to discuss these possibilities with family members in the event the person being cared for has a poor prognosis.
Lack of Family Support
For some elderly individuals, family support is lacking, leaving the senior citizen vulnerable to loneliness and depression. Overseeing the proper use of medications, nutrition and hygiene may be difficult when a home health aid or nurse is only required to visit a few times a week. The duration of daily visits by home health care personnel often does not begin to cover the multitude of special needs or services required by a patient recuperating--or dying--at home.
Many home health care agencies are not accredited and home health care aides and personnel may not be certified and trained in basic health care. Make sure the facility is accredited and that all staff seeing to the care of any individual, regardless of circumstance or health needs, is properly certified. Many elderly and terminally ill patients are vulnerable to financial and emotional abuse under such circumstances. Background checks should be performed on all health care workers, regardless of setting, and it's important for family members to verify this ahead of hiring any home health agency service.
One of the biggest disadvantages of home health care is the financial burden of qualifying for care. In order to be Medicare certified, individuals seeking home health care must meet certain qualifications. These include being on Medicare or needing physiotherapy, continued occupational therapy, speech-language pathology services or intermittent skilled nursing care. Patients also must be homebound and the facility providing care must be Medicare-certified for reimbursement or payment of some services. In addition, the person's doctor must determine in writing that the person needs home health care. The doctor also is required to devise a plan of care in such situations.