Dispelling Myths About Home Care: What Home Care Is and Isn't

by Vicki Salemi
Home Care. These two words may overwhelm families as they're considering viable options for their aging and/or ailing relative. Home Care allows a person with special needs to remain in their home, and may encompass a variety of roles such as personal care (i.e., bathing, washing your hair, getting dressed), homemaking (i.e., cleaning and yardwork), cooking or delivering meals, and health care such as having a home health aide come to your home.

While it entails a variety of situations such as people getting older, people who are chronically ill, recovering from surgery or disabled, there are many myths about home care to become aware of as you consider the possibility.

Home care is only for old people.
"People of all ages are eligible for home care," says Maxine Hochhauser, CEO of Visiting Nurse Regional Health Care System. In fact, she notes older patients aren't the only people receiving care; mothers and babies receive services as well as older individuals. In addition, home care may be necessary for a variety of life altering situations such as car accidents, unanticipated illnesses, or other mishaps.

The quality of care provided at home is inferior compared to institutionalized care.
According to Hochhauser, the clinical training of the staff for home care is the same if not better than training in institutions. She explains, "The clinicians need to be very well versed since they're on their own inside a home. It's not uncommon to have advanced medical treatments such as intravenous therapy and ventilator care to be done at home."

Home care is the solution to a problem.
In essence, Milca Pabon, RN, a home health care nurse with Adventist Home Health, indicates that home care is quite the opposite: it finds ways to solve the problem. "The purpose of visits is to teach family members how to provide care for their loved ones in the home." She adds, "It will open them to the resources in their communities that will be able to assist them to function at their highest level if possible where they were prior to hospitalization." For instance, patients and family members are taught how to do procedures such as uncomplicated wound care and post-orthopedic home exercises.

Home care is an alternative to other care options such as a hospital or nursing home.
This is simply not true, according to Charles Puchta, Home Helpers senior consultant. Actually, home care provided by professional caregivers often supplements other care arrangements and helps ensure patients receive the care they need and deserve. "Instead of viewing home care as a replacement for other care arrangements, it is about meeting people's needs and wants regardless of where or when services are provided or who else is involved in the care process."

Home care is expensive and only wealthy people can afford it.
Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of Senior Helpers, says there are actually many ways for seniors to afford quality home care. "With new programs such as reverse mortgages, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and access to state and local programs such as Medicaid, many more families are able to afford quality home care for their loved one."

Long-term care only exists in a nursing home.
This is not the case for many families according to Ross. He explains, "If the senior has medical issues that require health care throughout the day, a nursing home may be the right option however, most seniors require assistance and many times it is non-medical. Seniors want to live out their life in their own homes."


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