First Steps to Free Home Health Care

January 8, 2018


I receive a lot of calls about how to get started with help for seniors at home. The number one source I begin with is a Medicare covered service know as home health care. IT IS FREE; if you have Medicare.


If you find you or your loved one is having a more difficult time walking, taking a shower, wounds that won’t heal or their balance is off, then call your primary care physician and ask for an order for home health agency services, covered by Medicare. If your doctor or referring health care provider decides you need home health care, they should give you a list of agencies that serve your area. They must tell you whether their organization has a financial interest in any agency listed.

Check with your insurance plan to find out which local agencies are covered. Also, ask around for a referral. Not all agencies are created equal and some agencies specialize in Parkinson’s, pulmonary therapy or other specialties. Agencies differ by state and town. Examples include Bayada, Kindred and Healthy at Home.



Below is a broader definition and you may want to check out the website as well.


What's home health care?

Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury. Home health care is usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you get in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (SNF).


Examples of home health services include:

  • Nursing - Wound care for pressure sores or surgical wound

  • Patient and caregiver education

  • Intravenous or nutrition therapy

  • Injections

  • Monitoring serious illness and unstable health status

  • Physical Therapy - to increase strength

  • Occupational Therapy - to increase skills like showering and toileting

  • Speech Therapy - to help with swallowing

  • Aides 2-3x per week to help with showering

  • Pulmonary therapy for lung cancer or COPD

The goal of home health care is to treat an illness or injury. Home health care helps you get better, regain your independence, and become as self-sufficient as possible.


What should I expect from my home health care?

  • Doctor’s orders are needed to start care. Once your doctor refers you for home health services, the home health agency will schedule an appointment and come to your home to talk to you about your needs and ask you some questions about your health. You can request the agency you prefer.

  • The home health agency staff will also talk to your doctor about your care and keep your doctor updated about your progress. It’s important that home health staff see you as often as the doctor ordered.


Examples of what the home health staff should do:

  • Check what you’re eating and drinking.

  • Check your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing.

  • Check that you’re taking your prescription and other drugs and any treatments correctly.

  • Ask if you’re having pain.

  • Check your safety in the home.

  • Teach you about your care so you can take care of yourself.

  • Coordinate your care. This means they must communicate regularly with you, your doctor, and anyone else who gives you care.



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