Celebrate National Home Care Month

Celebrate National Home Care Month by Margaret Peterson, RN, Pioneer Memorial Hospital, Home Care, Viborg During these challenging times when all our focus seems to have shifted to the issues of violence in the Mideast potential war with Iraq and homeland security, I would like to remind your readers that here at home thousands of dedicated Americans continue to go into the homes of the sick and the dying and provide small miracles when miracles are needed most.

When your mother, father, sister, brother or neighbor are recovering from a recent hospital stay, struggling with a disability or dealing with a chronic or terminal illness, home care and hospice nurses, aides and therapists can often provide what seems like a miracle.

November is national Home Care and Hospice Month, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the role that home care and hospice workers play in the lives of millions of Americans, and also in the economy of our country. Why celebrate? More than just providing high quality health care services in the comfort and dignity of a patient�s own home, home care and hospice services save billions of health care dollars each year.

Home care is a service to recovering, disabled, or chronically ill people who need medical treatment and/or assistance with the activities of daily living. Generally, home care is appropriate when a person requires care, and family and friends cannot easily or effectively provide it on their own. State-of-the-art medical equipment for use in the home now can provide treatments and services that once were available only in the hospital.

Home care has been an American tradition for more than a century. Home care services usually are provided by home care organizations, but they also may be obtained from independent providers.

Home care is paid for directly by the patient and his or her family members, or through a variety of private and public sources. Hospices generally provide care regardless of the patient �family� ability to pay. Private insurance programs typically cover some services for acute needs, but benefits for long-term services vary from plan to plan. Public third party payors include Medicare, Medicaid, the Older Americans Act, the Veterans Administration, and community organizations.

What are the advantages of home care?

? Home care improves our society�s quality of life by enabling individuals to stay in the comfort and security of their own homes during times of illness, disability, and recuperation.

? Home care maintains the patient�s dignity and independence � qualities that commonly are lost in institutional settings.

? Home care is less expensive than other forms of health care delivery. In 1997 the average Medicare charges per day in a hospital and skilled nursing facility were estimated at $2,121 and $454, respectively. The average Medicare charge per home care visit during this time was an estimated $88.

? Home care offers a wide range of specialized services tailored to meet the needs of every individual on a personal provider-to-patient basis.

? Home care reinforces and supplements informal care by educating the patient�s family members and friends about the caregiving process.

As the 21st century continues to unfold, it is becoming clearer each day that the fundamental domestic issue that will face us all will be that of how to provide high quality long-term care to our parents and eventually for ourselves. As the obvious answer to this challenge, home care and hospice continues to be both compassionate and cost-effective.

This November as we prepare for Thanksgiving and recall all that we have to be grateful for as a nation, please remember those home care and hospice professionals who are making a difference every day in the lives of our nation�s seniors, disabled and infirm. They truly are the heart and soul of health care in America.

For further information about home care services please contact: Margaret Peterson, RN, Pioneer Memorial Hospital Home Care, Viborg, at (605) 326-5161. Ext. 3012.

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