Six myths about home health care

Home health care professionals are not babysitters. They are not strangers wandering your home. 

Blair Faulk, RN, BSN, certified wound specialist, with St. Joseph's/Candler Home Health Care.

Home health care workers can be your biggest advocates on your road to recovery. They also serve as friends to home health patients.

Home health care is a growing industry, especially as baby boomers age. Still, there are a lot of uncertainties patients and families have surrounding home health care.

Read: Five questions a patient and family should ask about 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. These services include skilled nursing, therapy (physical, occupational and speech), home health aides and medical social workers.

Blair Faulk, RN, BSN, certified wound specialist, has been working for SJ/C Home Health Care for more than 10 years and has been a nurse for 31 years. He helps patients from Savannah to Statesboro to Hinesville.

“I enjoy interacting with patients in their home,” Faulk says. “They are most comfortable at home. That way I can adjust my caregiving to be most relevant and understandable for them, and support them in ways that are realistic to them.”

Here’s a look at six common myths surrounding home health care:

1. Myth: Home health care is basically adult “babysitting”

Fact: Faulk says he’s taken care of thousands of home health patients in his tenure and has never heard a patient or caregiver compare his job to adult babysitting. Home health care is skilled care performed by nurses, therapists and others with clinical licensures.

“We do various hands-on skills, such as dressing changes, IVs, urinary catheterization, wound care, ostomies, Negative Pressure Wound Therapy, and a whole host of activities that don’t get provided by babysitters,” Faulk says. “We examine the patient in their environment and can teach them with high degrees of appropriateness because we know what food is in their fridge, we see that they don’t have a ramp for their wheelchair and on and on. We can teach and counsel them.” 

Gerald Hill, St. Joseph’s/Candler Director of Home Health Care.

2. Myth: Home health care is expensive

Fact: Actually, for those 65 and older, Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans pay for 100 percent of the care, says Gerald Hill, St. Joseph’s/Candler Director of Home Health Care. There’s not even a co-pay. For those not on Medicare, SJ/C Home Health Care accepts the largest list of insurance companies in our service area. Typically, patients on commercial insurance have a co-pay and then insurance pays for 80 percent with the patient responsible for the remaining 20 percent.

3. Myth: “I don’t need home health care because my family is helping”

Fact: Skilled and licensed clinicians can do many things that your family cannot, Hill says, from wound care to physical therapy to catheterization. In addition, home health care nurses can help take the burden of care off caregivers while assisting both with educational ways to get better.

“Home health care is foremost for the patient because we provide most of the kinds of care they receive in the hospital in a much more comfortable environment for them,” Faulk says. “Home health care also is for caregivers because we lighten their load by providing some of the patient’s care in the convenience of the patient’s or caregiver’s home. We help both patient and caregiver to learn more about their health in an environment that is less-rushed and more-familiar.”

4. Myth: “I am at risk when I let a stranger into my home”

Fact: St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care has a stringent onboarding process and the majority of the 130 home health staff members are licensed personnel that cannot risk having accusations or valid complaints that may harm their reputation or cause them to lose their license, Hill says. Faulk adds that most people are glad to see help in their home.

“I reassure the patient and caregivers that our nurses go in nice homes and homes that need work. We go in clean homes and dirty homes. We deal with people who are well-off and people who have many financial needs,” Faulk says. “I assure them that regardless of their station in life our personnel will respect them, encourage them and help them to get better in the place they call home.”

5. Myth: Home health care is just for sick people

Fact: Home health care does help those recently released from the hospital that need some more care. However, it’s more than that. Home health care also employs physical and occupational therapist that can help patients retain mobility following a knee surgery, for example, or learn to comb their hair following a stroke, Hill says. Physical and occupational therapists have the tools that can help patients do better at home and stay at home. In addition, home health care staff can help identify conditions that may not seem serious now but will later if untreated.

6. Myth: Home health care is a long, intensive process

Fact: Faulk says he often hears that people think home health care will be at their house six hours a day, six days a week. That’s not going to happen, Faulk says. The typical home health care visit lasts just 30 minutes. More serious conditions may require a few hours. Faulk typically visits a patient twice a week; occasionally three times a week. The average length of care is 14 weeks. It is important to note that on-call home health care nurses are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

“The big take away is that we are keeping you out of the hospital,” Faulk says. “One of our primary roles is ‘prevention of unnecessary re-hospitalization.’ We help keep people out of the hospital by catching deterioration and relapse early, often when it can be treated at home before it becomes dangerous.”

If you have questions or would like more information about St. Joseph’s/Candler Home Health Care, please call 1-800-942-5232 or visit our Home Health page.

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
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St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000