You don't necessarily need to depend on inpatient medical facilities to meet all your healthcare needs. If your condition allows, you can get the quality care you need at home and avoid the inconveniences of hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities.
What Is Home Care?
Home care encompasses a wide range of health, social and rehabilitative services for recovering, disabled, chronically ill or terminally ill patients. Patients and their families choose home care during different stages of their cancer journey, such as after an extended hospitalization or intensive treatment.
How Do I Know if Home Care Is Right for Me?
Choosing home care services can be an emotionally difficult decision for patients and their families, who may question whether they're capable of fulfilling all of their loved one's needs.
Where Should I Start?
Gather useful information about the services available and how to access them. Work with your healthcare team (social worker, nurse and doctor) to discuss and assess patient needs. You can start the process of using home care services by:
- Talking with your doctor. He or she must prescribe home care services.
- Talking with your social worker. Social workers initiate the referral and arrange for home care services with your doctor. They often use the agency they're most familiar with, so discuss other agency options if you wish. If your insurance company requires pre-authorization, verify that it's been notified about your home care request.
- Contacting your insurance company. Ask your insurer for a list of participating providers. Remember that some insurance companies require pre-authorization of services.
How Do I Talk with My Doctor About Home Care?
Talk with your or your loved one's doctor directly about the types of services that may be needed at home. He or she must initiate a referral to an agency with a doctor's order for home-care services. If you'll be receiving home-care services following a hospitalization, typically the hospital social worker initiates contact with the home-care agency and coordinates services with you, your family and your doctor.
Discuss with your doctor the types of services you think you'll need at home. To make an informed decision, you'll need to be able to answer the following questions to help determine how many hours and what type of care is needed:
- How often is the patient typically alone during the day and night?
- How many hours can the family or caregiver assist the patient on average?
- What types of assistance can the family or caregiver provide (cleaning, cooking, laundry, assistance with walking?)
- How many flights of stairs does the patient have to walk to get to the bedroom? The bathroom?
How Can I Find a Home-Care Agency in My Area?
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) provides helpful information about home care, including an agency locator, which contains a comprehensive database of more than 20,000 home care and hospice agencies
Your state and local health departments should also have a registry of licensed home care agencies in your community.
In addition, an Information Specialist from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society can help with your questions and concerns.