Home care is medical care or specialized care given by an expert caregiver at the patient’s home where the patient or senior citizen is living, rather than care given in a nursing home or clinic. Homecare is also referred to as domiciliary care, public care or in home care. The goal of home health care is to help the senior citizen remain independent and able-bodied to aid in their recovery process and aid in their everyday function. Home care is provided by licensed professionals who are trained to provide personal care to their patients.
There are many factors associated with why there is a rising trend of home health care patients turning to the Internet for information and assistance. One study conducted on a representative sample of three hundred seniors found that more than one-third were not using the Internet to obtain needed assistance. Factors that were identified were the frequency of the patient’s need for assistance, the type of services they needed, types of providers they used and factors related to their level of comfort. The Internet is becoming a viable source for receiving medical care that can be done from the comfort of one’s home.
One factor that was identified was the lack of quality-improvement and patient safety within the home health care industry. In the past, medical professionals and consumers alike have placed a lot of blame on the care provider for not maintaining adequate standards of care. This blame is often based on the notion that a physician will simply look out for themselves and not consider patient safety, which could result in a catastrophic event. In the case of the home health care industry, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that physician negligence has reached a high-degree. Studies show that many of the patients involved in accidents sustained in nursing home facilities are suffering from long-term consequences brought about by medical care and neglect.
Another area of significant concern is the use of unannounced hospital admissions. A recent study conducted by a national organization focusing on home health and safety showed that nearly two-thirds of home health agencies had a system in place that resulted in an unplanned hospital admission for patients. The organization called for a national dialogue on the issue of patient safety and evidence-based decision making. The research implications of this study are staggering. The evidence suggests that there is nothing safe about giving a patient the unannounced hospital visit and many of the patients who suffer injuries at home may not have been properly evaluated or had any evidence presented to support the recommended course of treatment.
There are also research implications related to the use of off-site pharmacies. It is widely believed that there are currently in place practices in many home health care populations that lead to medication errors that can lead to death. For example, research suggests that there are inefficiencies that make it difficult for elderly patients to correctly identify the appropriate medication to take on a daily basis. In addition, there are likely to be scheduling and inventory challenges that will make it impossible for home health professionals to ensure that the proper medication is always available. This can result in medication errors that result in undue stress and pain for the patient as well as unnecessary emergency room visits.
In a time when evidence suggests that more people are falling than ever before, the importance of fall prevention cannot be overemphasized. Effective fall prevention programs should incorporate both the needs of the patients and the professional expertise of the home health professionals. Such programs should focus on ensuring that the patient receives necessary medications and receives preventative care such as periodic heartworm testing and other vaccinations.