When discussing home health options available, there’s always a focus on the nurses at first. This is a good thing since close friends and family always want to make sure that a loved one is receiving the best care possible.
So they might be initially interested in learning details about the home health nurses, including their experience, how often they’ll visit and what kind of skills and certifications they have. Learning this information can provide peace of mind for families trying to decide between allowing someone to stay at home and live independently or discussing having them to relocate to a facility that offers more medical care.
The team at Accredited Home Care is always happy to answer questions from family members about the type of care we offer. Realizing that a family member needs a higher level of care than you can provide can be challenging.
In some cases, family members are able to help out as full-time caregivers but still consider having trained home health care personnel come to provide additional care. Or, if family members aren’t able to commit to this, they still want to have these conversations to make sure their loved one is in good hands even if they aren’t there regularly.
Some people just starting to learn about the world of home health care may also surprised that there are different levels of nursing expertise even in the home health care situation. Some may be able to perform comprehensive exams, offer advanced wound care techniques, or other intensive skills.
Other nurses and aides help with everything from grooming to light housework to meal preparation. Home health aides can even help with transportation or shopping. All of these services are definitely appreciated by the clients, who may not be able to do some or all of these tasks by themselves anymore.
Beyond a variety of nursing positions, many home health care agencies also offer other services to clients in order to help their quality of life.
One is massage therapy, where a licensed provider comes to visit and provides services that can help relax tense muscles, help reduce pain and improve mental health. Massage can help people who are not feeling well, having cramps, or feeling stressed. It can help remove toxins from the body as well as improve sleep, which offers, even more, boosts to health.
Some home health care agencies also offer the services of a physical therapist or a physical therapist assistant. These skilled providers can focus on improving parts of the body that may have been injured due to trauma or a medical incident like a stroke.
They’ll work to improve range of motion, strength, flexibility, and balance in certain limbs, which all could have been diminished or lost. They often visit on a scheduled basis but can also give “homework” such as other exercises to try on days when the physical therapist isn’t scheduled to visit. Regular exercise adds even more benefits to the body, especially the areas that the physical therapist has been working on.
Another therapy position that’s often seen is an occupational therapist, who can work to teach a variety of skills to clients to help them approach life in general.
The AOTA, a national organization that promotes this career, describes it as “the only profession that helps people across the lifespan do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities.”
WebMD describes occupational therapy as “teaching you to adapt.”
There’s a misconception that occupational therapists only are supposed to help people get back to work, such as assisting someone who has sustained an injury by teaching him or her new skills or relearning skills that have been lost or reduced. Once these skills are mastered, he or she could potentially go back to the workforce, either in the same role or a new role.
But occupational therapists are really trained to help everyone in any condition.
With seniors requiring or benefitting from home health care, an occupational therapist can come in to teach the necessary physical skills to allow them to live at home independently and safely.
While there’s no formal “test” to allow clients to stay in their homes vs. relocate, concerned family members want to make sure they can handle certain duties independently, including:
- Grooming (brushing teeth, washing, etc.)
- Getting in bed
- Getting out of bed
- Meal preparation
Occupational therapists can also provide assistance choosing and using a mobility device, such as a cane or a walker. People who haven’t used either of these tools may feel uncomfortable or not sure how to move.
They can also provide input into ways to “safe-proofing” a home by looking through each room and looking for hazards or places that could cause injury. This can include removing area rugs that can snag a walker or cause someone to trip, or adding extra handles in the shower and tub to make it easier to get in and out.