Home Care Services: Home Health Care

Introduction

Health care is a vital element of modern human society. Different countries in today’s world treat the issues of health care in different ways. The U.S. health care system has always been a role model for less developed countries in the aspects of providing high-quality services to all people in need. Home care is an integral element of the U.S. health care system. It is connected with other system elements and plays a rather important role in the permanently changing health care environment of today.

Background of Home Health Care

Thus, home health care is one of the basic elements of the health care system of every country. Accordingly, home health care is often taken as a topic for scholarly works and research procedures, which result in various definitions of this phenomenon and different approaches to its assessment. Stahl (2004) and Rojas (2009) speak about home health care as the process that provides patients with the highest levels of care in the environments that are comfortable for them: “The delivery of home health care includes professional caregivers, volunteers, and untrained assistants who give medical and nursing care to the acutely or chronically ill in private homes and retirement communities” (Stahl, 2004, p. 272). So, the notion of home health care is not limited to the home services as such, but only covers the needs of patients that, due to some reasons, live not at their own houses but in nursing homes, retirement homes, or other similar facilities.

Home Health Care Services

Basic Services

Accordingly, the services that home health care provides include the whole set of procedures that are necessary for treating and caring for either acute and timely or long-time illnesses. According to Stahl (2004), today the home health care is almost equal to hospitalization in the scope of services that patients can receive at home. Thus, basic home health care services include physician consultations, intravenous injections of antibiotics, and even reanimation services like ventilation machine usages for patients experiencing breathing problems.

Implications for Barton’s Continuum of Care

Interestingly, home health care combines the features of all stages of the continuum of care as defined by Barton (2007, p. 286) and developed by Stahl (2004, p. 243). In more detail, home health care can be presented to patients at the prenatal healthy birth services care levels. Pediatric home care is also observed in the USA, as well as at all the three stages of the health promotion level of Barton’s continuum. Finally, long-term health care and even palliative care are both observed among the services that home health care agencies provide to their clients (Stahl, 2004, p. 243).

Home Health Care and Patient Transitioning

Further on, home health care plays a prominent role in the process of patients transitioning from one level of care to another level. In particular, Stahl (2004) defines five major care levels including the primary, secondary, tertiary, long-term, and palliative care levels (p. 508). Home health care, not surprisingly, can serve two major purposes in the process of patient transition. On the one hand, home care can be an integral part of health care services at every level mentioned. On the other hand, home health care can mark the very transition of the patient to the next care level as, according to Barton (2007), “secondary care is continuing care for sustained or chronic conditions” (p. 353), and such a long-term care is often presented as a point of home health care nowadays. So, home health care can be viewed as a means to make the transitioning of a patient from one care level to another one a simpler and least harmful process.

Financing of Home Health Care Services

Needless to say, the home health care system has its financing resources. There are two of them, including Medicare and various governmental and community-based funding programs (Stahl, 2004, p. Rojas, 2009). Stahl (2004) argues that traditional Medicare does not cover long-term care in its insurance options, but there are chances for people to get Medicare that would cover any expenses for home health care associated with services that were urgently necessary to a patient (p. 273). Further on, Rojas (2009) discusses the variety of community and governmental organizations that finance home care agencies or help people pay for the services of the latter. Such organizations include IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services Program), Jewish Free Loan Association, and Convalescent Aid Society. These organizations enable people to use home care services, while the providers of the latter obtain their funding from the government and in the form of patients’ fees (Rojas, 2009; Stahl, 2004, p. 273).

Home Health Care and Resource Management

However, the lack of financing is still one of the main issues that characterize home health care. Although numerous scholars and specialists like Stahl (2004), Barton (2007), and Rojas (2009) argue about the constantly growing popularity and demand for home health care, this area of the U.S. health care system is underfinanced as for now. The fact that Medicare traditionally covers home health care expenses only partially is proof of the assumption that the government seemingly pays more attention to conventional hospital-based health care. So, such a situation allows arguing that home health care plays a minor role in the overall management of health care system resources.

Future of Home Health Care

At the same time, the future of the home health care is viewed differently by various scholars. Thus, Stahl (2004) argues that the lack of funding and the shortage of the trained staff for home health care agencies are the issues that might slow down the progress of this area of health care (p. 274). On the other hand, the widely disputed Health Care Reform promoted by Obama Administration allows, according to Hiller (2010), hoping that the increase of governmental regulation, unification of insurance process, and complete coverage of every U.S. citizen will provide more funding to the home health care segment of the system. However, the home health care as such will have to change, as the Reform is about to stop private health care insurance development and to concentrate all the system under governmental control (Hiller, 2010). Home health care agencies, which are mainly private, will have to accept governmental regulation and act according to it to succeed.

Conclusion

So, home health care is an integral part of the U.S. health care system. Currently, this type of medical and nursing care is becoming more and more popular and demanded, but faces staff and funding shortages. The potential Health Care Reform, although widely disputed, might bring a positive developmental impact to home health care. At the same time, the latter would have to adjust to the requirements of the reformed U.S. health care system.

References

Barton, P.L. (2007). Understanding the U. S. Health Service Systems, 3rd edition, Health Administration Press.

Hiller, S. (2010). Why Obama Can’t Drop Health Care Reform. Web.

Rojas, M. (2009). Home Care Financing Options in Los Angeles. Web.

Stahl, M. (2004). Encyclopedia of health care management. NY: Sage Publications.