In-home health care, colloquially known as homecare, offers untold benefits for both patients and the health care professionals providing the service. While it is not possible to offer this service in all cases, if you’re considering adding homecare to your health system as a service for your patients, what benefits can you expect to experience? The primary benefits of homecare are for the patients — those who are disabled, ill or elderly — and their families. Homecare allows patients to stay in the comfort of their own home while still receiving the care they need. This can be an invaluable tool for improving patient recovery and rehabilitation.
Reduced Patient Stress
Studies have shown psychological stress has a negative effect on the body’s ability to heal wounds — specifically, the stress hormone cortisol interferes with the body’s healing ability, which in turn increases the chances of infection or other complications. In-home care might not be the most sterile environment, but for patients who do not have any additional risk factors, it can be the best way to reduce stress and improve recovery.
Easier for Friends and Family to Visit
Being home can also make it easier and more welcoming for friends and family to visit the patient. Let’s be honest — hospitals and rehabilitation facilities aren’t always the most welcoming, especially for patients who have large families or social circles. Visiting with loved ones can actually help speed up recovery time — patients who received visitors after surgery reported lower pain and faster recovery times. They do say laughter is the best medicine, after all, and there’s no better way to achieve that laughter than by a visit from a family member or good friend.
Familiar Surroundings for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients
Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions share one common symptom — memory loss. For an individual who is losing or has lost their memory, moving from a familiar location can be a traumatic or debilitating experience. The responsibility of caring for these ailing patients often falls on the family members, but it can be difficult or impossible to keep up with all of their needs. Home care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients can be provided by medical professionals to allow the patients to keep up with their care, and by non-medical professionals to allow the family some relief. Both forms of care can and should be completed in conjunction with one another to provide the best service possible for the patients and their families.
Cost-Effective for Patients and Family Members
Inpatient care — whether the patient is admitted for a procedure or moving permanently to an assisted living facility — is expensive. Medicare and private insurance policies may cover part of the costs, but family members often find themselves paying out of pocket for any expenses not covered by insurance. In-home care is more cost-effective for patients and their families. There is the additional cost of mileage for medical professionals who are traveling, but it is more than offset by the money saved by allowing these patients to stay in the comfort of their own homes.
Tailored to Individual Patient Needs
Not every patient in an inpatient facility is going to have the same needs — dietary requirements, scheduling and even transportation concerns will all vary from patient to patient. Instead of struggling to cater to each patient’s individual needs, homecare allows care to be tailored to the specific needs of each patient. In-home care also provides a better, more personalized experience without interruptions from intercom calls, other patients or requests for consultations.
Improved Patient Privacy
Many patients, especially those from older generations, don’t want anyone seeing them struggle or fail. They might be discouraged from attending physical or occupational therapy appointments, because they’re worried failure will humiliate them. Homecare allows patients to complete their therapies and treatments in the privacy of their own home. It can also be a good alternative for treatments like wound management and observation — if you’re worried about a patient properly caring for a wound once they leave the hospital and your care, a homecare visit can allow you to monitor the wound’s progress and address any problems that might occur before they become dire.
Monitoring Patient Situations
Social work is just as important for elderly and disabled patients as it is for young children. Homecare allows you to monitor, to an extent, the home situation of your patients and take steps to make sure they are being cared for if a negative situation arises. It’s estimated anywhere between one in 10 and one in 14 individuals experience elder abuse every year. For patients who can’t or won’t speak for themselves, this form of care gives you the tools to be their voice and protect them when others might not step in. This is essential for elderly patients, at the very least — victims of elder abuse have a 300 percent higher mortality rate than other individuals in the same age bracket.
Promotes Independence in Elderly Patients
Assisted-living facilities might be a good option for many people, but they tend to be kept on a very strict schedule — you eat at the same time every day, and go to bed before a mandated curfew. Homecare, and allowing these patients to remain in their homes, promotes independence and a sense of freedom that can be beneficial for the patient and their family. That independence helps improve the patient’s quality of life, as well — individuals who were previously independent and find themselves relegated to a schedule often fall into depression and lose the sense that they have any control over their lives. While independence can be achieved in assisted-living facilities, the best course of action is to keep patients in their own home for as long as possible. Homecare isn’t an option for every practice, but if it is an option for yours, the benefits it offers patients far outweigh any possible risks. Consider including homecare in your service offerings.