Non - Medical Homecare


Home Care

In-home services encompass a wide range of supportive services for seniors who are homebound. Their availability often is credited with keeping seniors at home and out of nursing homes.

Home Health Care

Home health care (HHC) provides supportive care and supplies to seniors’ homes. The recipient may be recovering from an illness, have a physical limitation, or be chronically or terminally ill. The types of services provided can be medical, nursing, social, therapeutic treatment, or assistance with activities of daily living. Services may be temporary intermittent, or long-term.

Home care organizations include home health agencies, hospices, homemaker and home care aide (HCA) agencies, staffing and private-duty agencies, and companies specializing in medical equipment and supplies, pharmaceuticals, and drug infusion therapy (National Association for Home Care, 1996). In addition, some agencies now offer telehealth services.

Home care services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Depending on the patient’s needs and resources, they may be provided by an individual or a team of specialists on a part-time, intermittent, hourly, or shift basis.

Following are some of the types of professionals and helpers who provide home health care services, depending on the needs of the seniors.

Licensed Practical Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs, known as licensed vocational nurses [LVNs] in California and Texas) exist in most states. LPNs usually have two years or training and have passed state or national boards. They can administer most medications, take blood pressure and other measurements, and perform related tasks.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) are professional nurses who often supervise the tasks performed by LPNs, orderlies, and nursing assistants. They provide direct care and make decisions regarding plans of care for individuals. They may have bachelor’s degrees or associate degrees in nursing, but not all states have educational requirements.

Home Care Aides

Home care aides are trained to provide custodial care, such as helping with dressing, bathing, getting in and out of bed, and using the toilet. They may also prepare meals. They usually are not certified.

Home Care Aid Agencies

Home care aid agencies provide helpers for seniors and others who need assistance in the home and with personal care. Such helpers do a variety of tasks such as cleaning house, doing laundry, and preparing meals. Often referred to as home care aides, they may also be called homemakers, caregivers, companions, or personal attendants. HCA agencies may plan meals (including special diets), shop for food, and cook. They also may help clients move from bed, bathe, dress, and groom. Some accompany clients outside the home, services as a guide and companion.

In some states HCA agencies must be licensed and meet minimum standards. Most homemaker and HCA agencies recruit, train, and supervise their personnel and this are responsible for the care rendered.

Staffing and Private-Duty Agencies

Staffing and private-duty agencies provide seniors and others with nursing, homemaker, HCA, and companion services. The best-known agencies are the Vesting Nurse Associations (VNAs). They are not-for-profit, community-based home health organizations. VNAs care for nearly 4 million people annually (Visiting Nurse Associations of America, n.d.).

Many staffing and private-duty agencies assign nurses to assess their clients’ needs and to provide follow-up and supervision. Responsibility for patient care rests with each agency.

Pharmaceutical and Infusion Therapy Companies

Pharmaceutical and infusion therapy companies specialize in the delivery of drugs, equipment, and professional services for the homebound who require intravenous or nutritional therapies through specially placed tubes.

Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers

Durable medical equipment suppliers provide home care patients with products ranging from respirators, wheelchairs and walkers to catheter and wound-care supplies.

Telehealth Service Providers

Some agencies are developing telehealth services for the homebound. Through telehealth a nurse can reach a senior’s vital signs over the telephone. The innovative technology uses existing telephone lines and a computer based interactive videophone. A monitoring unit can check heart and lung sounds, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, and blood sugar, while a high resolution camera can provide a view of wounds.

The information above is reprinted from Working with Seniors: Health, Financial and Social Issues with permission from Society of Certified Senior Advisors® . Copyright © 2009. All rights reserved.