We need to be clear – home care matters more than ever.
A quick look at demographics and constant changes in the health care delivery system point to an expanding and necessary role for home health care. With the right services in place, people stay healthier longer, enjoy independence in their own home, and recover faster from hospitalizations.
Home is where people want to grow old in a safe and dignified way. It’s our preferred place when we face illness and difficult medical challenges.
Home care matters because New Hampshire is growing older at a pace faster than the national average. Already at 20%, Carroll County’s 65+ residents will more than double to 43% of the local population by 2030. Within the next 15 years, Medicare enrollment in the United States will grow by 50% to 80 million beneficiaries.
The aging population is experiencing longer life but often with multiple chronic illnesses. The demand for quality at-home medical and long term personal care services is growing. The “Boomer” generation finds itself attending to aging parents just as their own health care needs are changing. The overwhelming burdens of family caregiving are only beginning to be evaluated and understood.
For consumers trying to keep pace, home care is another system with its own terminology, licensing and payment sources. Learning more about typical home care services and the professionals who are trained to deliver them is one of the best ways to be sure that you’re getting the right care. Understanding who pays for what services is a necessary foundation of any long term care plan.
For starters, nursing agencies need to be licensed by the state in which they are located. Their staff should be licensed and/or credentialed in their fields of expertise. State licensed home care agencies provide supervision and Registered Nurse (RN) oversight to all clients, which is helpful in coordinating services and navigating the complexities of the health care system.
In the delivery of today’s “patient-centered care,” nurses, therapists and providers work as a team to help you, the patient, manage your chronic illnesses or recover from surgery at home. Personal care assistance and homemaking services can keep you independent, active and living a healthy life. The support offered by palliative care practices and hospice benefits the entire family.
Home care matters more than ever, and in future columns we’ll continue to highlight trends in healthy aging and home health care. Be certain of the licensing and credentials of any home health provider you are considering; ask questions and include your family; get referrals from your provider and friends.
With the right services in place, we can successfully support everyone’s desire to remain healthy and age at home, with dignity and independence.
(”Home Care Matters” is a monthly column written by Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice, sharing information on healthy aging and important home care topics. Past columns can be accessed at the agency’s website, www.VNHCH.org.)