We should value in-home care

Viewpoint

Deb Hadachek Editor
www.thebellevilletelescope.com

It was good news/bad news to learn the Republic County Health Department is once again certified to offer home health care to Medicare clients–but is having trouble finding registered nurses to staff the service.

Home health has become an issue as nursing home costs skyrocket. Medicare continually tightens the screws on who qualifies for home health, how long, and what services the government will cover. There is also a private Medicare-certified home health agency, Angels Care, that covers a 30-county area, including Republic.

I often hear individuals and families wish for a private feefor-service agency that provides care above and beyond what Medicare allows. Many seniors need some level of in-home service a few hours a day or week that would allow them to stay in their own homes. That might be a daily welfare check, some help sorting out medications or other health needs, buying groceries or light housekeeping.

I believe there are people willing to pay for that service out of their own pockets, if it were available. I believe there are many neighbors, friends, and family members who already provide some of these services, as they are able, out of the goodness of their hearts. In other cases, Meals on Wheels volunteers may be the only human contact some seniors have on a regular basis.

I read about models that take many shapes. This might be a business opportunity for an entrepreneur. Some people pay a monthly membership fee to have assistance available. In other cases, apartment complexes have hired a nurse to make daily welfare checks on their residents.

Republic County has done a good job of providing a continuum of care with independent living, assisted living, and nursing home care.

We should give equal value and attention to in-home caregivers, and encourage their work as a new industry

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Home Health gets Medicare certification

By Deb Hadachek
Telescope editor

The Republic County Health Department is “up and ready to go” to provide Medicare home health service, administrator Danielle White told Republic County Commissioners.

But, the recent resignation of the home health supervisor means the department may find it difficult to provide the service, even with Medicare approval.

“A registered nurse has to assess the Medicare clients,” she said. “After that, a client can be cared for by an LPN or an aide, depending on the level of service they need.”

How many clients the health department can accept depends on the level of care those clients need, she said.

“One client may need only two hours of service, and another five,” she said. “We also have a number of other services we provide to the county, so it depends on our staff numbers versus the load of other clients.”

Home health agencies coordinate services ordered by physicians to homebound patients, including intermittent skilled nursing care.

An agency must be Medicare-certified to provide the service to qualified clients.