Home-Care Services

Fortunately, for many persons with cancer and their families, certain kinds of care that once were available only in hospitals are now provided at home. Most people are more comfortable at home because they feel more in control of their lives and are able to maintain their independence. Home services include a broad range of medical, nursing, and therapy services (or skilled services) designed to help patients recover from acute illnesses. Home services can also include non-skilled services, such as homemaking or transportation, to help people manage the problems of chronic illness within the security of their own environment.

Home services are available from community and private agencies and businesses. Services range from complex medical treatment, such as home-administered chemotherapy or intravenous therapies, to assistance with personal care for persons unable to bathe themselves.

If you need help at home, you may worry about losing your independence or that the illness is "getting the upper hand." These feelings are understandable since most of us resent being reminded that we have a serious illness. It is important to talk about these feelings if they begin to interfere with your being able to take advantage of home services. Having someone come into your home does not mean that you must give up control of your life. The goal of home services is to help people function as independently as possible. Together, you and the agencies that provide home services should develop a plan for your care that meets your approval and needs.

It is important to know that Medicare, Medical Assistance, and insurance coverage for home-care services is still inadequate to meet the needs of many chronically ill people. The eligibility criteria for Medicare, Medical Assistance, and insurance reimbursement can be limited and depend upon the type of services required and the seriousness of the patient's medical condition. Inadequate reimbursement for home services may change in the future as the public becomes more aware of the need for better home-health-care services. For now, people who need home services must check with the agency or business providing the service to see what Medicare, Medical Assistance, insurance, or other payment sources will cover and what they will need to pay for privately.


Happy National Health Education Week!
by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
October 21, 2013