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Five questions a patient and family should ask about home health care

Family Health
Mar 23, 2017

You or a family member may face a time following an illness or injury when you are well enough to leave the hospital, but still need some professional attention. You may want to consider home health care.

Home health care is a great option for patients wanting to avoid extended hospital stays or time spent at a skilled nursing facility. Home health care is typically less expensive and more convenient, and patients tend to be happier and more at ease in the comfort of their own home, says Gerald Hill, St. Joseph’s/Candler Director of Home Health Care

St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care takes a total-patient approach to treatment, meaning we develop specialized plans of care that are the most appropriate for each patient’s individual needs and level of functioning. The goal of these individual plans is to reduce recovery time, optimize independence and prevent unnecessary hospitalizations.

Currently, there are approximately 600 patients in 16 coastal Georgia counties that receive St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care services, Hill says. Basic services covered by the program include skilled nursing, therapy (physical, occupational and speech), home health aides and medical social workers.

“We find that most people do not want to be in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility or rehab facility. They want to get well at home,” Hill says. “However, that can be a big burden on the family. Home health care is having skilled care come to your home. Skilled and licensed clinicians can do many things your family cannot ranging from wound care to saying, ‘This is what you should and shouldn’t be eating.’”

If you and your family are considering Home Health Care, Hill provides five questions you should always ask:

1. Are you accredited?

The St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care agencies are accredited by The Joint Commission and are Medicare and Medicaid certified. We participate in the Georgia Medical Care Foundation (GMCF) Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) activities, and were ranked in the “Top 500 Home Care Agencies” in the nation by HomeCare Elite on five occasions since 2007.

2. What are your Medicare Compare Scores?

Medicare-certified home health agencies will receive a score or rating based on data and outcome assessment surveys. These compare scores can help you and your family choose a quality home health agency that has the skilled services you need. Currently, St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care has the best score for a home health agency in the region, a 3.5 rating out of a possible 5. The national average is 3. To compare Home Health Care agencies, click here.

3. How is my care paid for?

The vast majority of home health care patients are 65 and older, Hill says, and are covered by Medicare or Medicare Advantage, which pays for 100% of your costs. For patients covered by commercial insurance plans, most insurers have a home health benefit of some type, Hill says. However, a co-pay is typically required. St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health also accepts Georgia Medicaid.

4. Do you use your own employees?

St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care employs or contracts with approximately 130 staff members, including skilled nurses, physical, occupational and speech therapists, social workers, aides and more. All must go through a stringent onboarding process before being considered for employment. At SJ/C Home Health, even employees from contractors must pass these stringent tests. The majority of home health care employees are licensed personnel and cannot risk having accusations or valid complaints that may harm their reputation or cause them to lose their license, Hill says.

5. What programs do you have for my illness/procedure?

To meet the various needs of home care patients, our treatment programs include a wide range of services, ranging from occasional visits to seven days a week, as a condition warrants. St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care offers the following services:

  • Anticoagulant Therapy including in-home, pro-time/INR testing and medication management
  • Case management and coordination of home healthcare services through our registered nurses, therapists and medical social workers
  • Special training and help for diabetic patients
  • Palliative care programs for those who want to avoid hospice
  • Rehabilitation services (physical, occupational and speech therapy) including, but not limited to, home safety evaluations, core strengthening to prevent falls and making sure patients are able to get in and out of different areas of their home including bath and shower.
  • Skilled nursing services to perform disease management, medication assessment and education
    • In-home infusion services
    • Wound management services including:
      • Surgical wounds
      • Pressure Ulcers
      • Diabetic Ulcers
      • Venous stasis ulcers
      • Wound V.A.C. – special devices that heal difficult wounds in one-third to one-half of the normal time

If you have more questions or would like more information about St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care, please call 800-942-5232 or click here.

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