Many individuals who are using home medical equipment may also require home based caregiving. For additional details beyond our overview below, see the National Association for Homecare & Hospice.
Note: If you are interested in starting a home health agency or working in the field, you should first check with your appropriate state licensure or regulatory agency for state-specific requirements.
Homecare providers deliver a wide variety of health care and supportive services. These can range from professional nursing and home health aide services to physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies. Providers may be for-profit, non-profit (VNAs), or hospital based. Homecare services can be provided by:
Companions provide companionship and comfort to individuals who, for medical and/or safety reasons, may not be left at home alone. They may assist clients with household tasks, but primarily provide sitter services.
Family members and volunteers provide a great deal of uncompensated caregiving to seniors and individuals with diabilities in communities everywhere.
Home Health Aides assist patients with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, toileting, and dressing. Some aids have received additional training and are qualified to provide more complex services under the supervision of a nursing professional.
Homemaker and chore workers perform light household duties such as laundry, meal preparation, general housekeeping, and shopping. These services are directed at maintaining patient households rather than providing hand-on assistance with personal care.
Medical Social Workers evaluate the social and emotional factors affecting ill and disabled individuals and provide counseling. They may assist patients and their family members identify available community resources. Social workers also serve as case managers when patient's conditions are so complex that professionals need to assess medical and supportive needs and coordinate a variety of services.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) help individuals who have physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems that prevent them from performing the general activities of daily living (ADLs). They also instruct patients on using specialized rehabilitation techniques and equipment to improve function in basic household tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing.
Physical Therapists (PTs) work to restore the mobility and strength of patients who are limited or disabled by physical injuries through the use of exercise, massage and other techniques. PTs also often alleviate pain and restore injured muscles with specialized equipment and teach patients and caregivers special techniques for walking and transfer.
Physicians occasionally visit patients in their homes to diagnose and treat illnesses just as they do in hospitals and private offices. They work with home care providers to determine services that are needed by patients, which specialists are most suitable to render these services and the frequency of services to be provided. They also prescribe and oversee patient plans of care.
Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) provide skilled services. Some of these services include injections and intravenous therapy, wound care, education on disease treatment and prevention, and patient assessments. RNs may also provide case management services. LPNs have one year of specialized training and are licensed to work under the supervision of registered nurses. The patient's medical condition and required treatment regimen determines whether care should be provided by an RN or an LPN.
Speech Language Pathologists work to develop and restore the speech of individuals with communication disorders, usually as a result of traumas such as surgery or stroke. They also retrain patients in breathing, swallowing, and muscle control.