Who Receives Home Health Care Besides the Elderly?
By Erin Wallace, Contributor
It's a common misconception in the healthcare industry that home health care services are only provided for the elderly. While seniors do make up the majority of individuals receiving home health care services, since it's often harder for them to maintain their way of life as they age, there are many other patient populations that receive health services at home, too.
Types of home health care services
The type of home health care a patient receives is virtually limitless depending on a patient's individual situation. Some examples include:
- Home nursing care: the specific type of care provided from a home health nurse can vary widely depending on the patient's needs, but can include things such as wound dressing, administering medication, pain management and supporting the general health of the patient.
- Physical, occupational or speech therapy: Often needed after major surgery or a significant health event, PT, OT and SLP services assist patients with communication, daily living activities or how to regain strength in specific muscles and joints.
- Medical social services: Medical social workers counsel patients and help them locate community resources to aid in their recovery.
Who else receives home health care services?
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, is a health, diet and nutrition expert and the author of several books, including The Everything Alzheimer's Book, Hormone Balance, The Magnesium Miracle and The Complete Natural Guide to Women's Health.
Dean notes that home health care services “from qualified caregivers are in high demand. This is in part because of the increased needs of the people who have debilitating illnesses and can't perform activities of daily living.”
- According to Dean, these populations include:
- Children, teens and young adults with autism
- Young adults and middle-aged adults who are chair or bed-bound with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and severe environmental illness
- Patients of all ages with cancer
- Veterans with disabilities
- Patients on six or more medications that require assistance in taking their medications properly
Dean believes that home health care jobs are bound to increase in the coming years because of “the escalation of the above chronic conditions.”
Home health care demographics
Sentara Home Care Services, based in Virginia, recently provided some information on their home health care demographics.
In 2018, 15.2 percent of care was provided to adults under the age of 60. Infusion care (77 percent) and hospice (8.4 percent) were two of the most common home health care types provided to these patients.
Dale Gauding from Sentara Healthcare says that his home health care company provides services to a broad range of age groups, and he provided some examples.
“Women often require hydration during pregnancy and this service can be provided in the home. New mothers who have had C-sections sometimes require assistance with wound dressings. Young adults have surgeries and may require post-operative assistance with therapy, wound care and antibiotic intravenous infusions and others may require assistance with diabetic teaching.”
And while most elderly who receive in-home care benefit from some form of Medicare, Dean says that “the majority of the services mentioned are reimbursed by commercial insurances, which usually involves younger patients.”
Pediatric home health care
Some home health agencies even provide specialized home health care services for children who have complex medical needs, such as infants recently discharged from the NICU and PICU.
Any child who leaves the hospital with a complex or chronic medical problem may be qualified for in-home care. Some examples include:
- Premature infants
- Children with respiratory difficulties
- Children with cardiac difficulties
- Neurologically-compromised children, such as those with cerebral palsy or seizure disorders
- Children who have special feeding needs, such as a feeding tube or G-button
If you're considering a rewarding career as a home health care nurse, jobs are bound to be plentiful in the coming years. The overall need for in-home health care is increasing, and the workforce simply can not keep up with the demand for care. If you're considering a career change or starting your nursing career in the home health sector, it's definitely a good time to transition.