Home health and hospice care can be provided by many different types of organizations, agencies, companies, and individuals. Choosing the service that is right for your family requires some research. In fact, by 2050, an estimated 27 million consumers in the U.S. will need some type of long-term care. Some of the more common types of providers are:
Home health agencies. More than 12 million individuals receive care from more than 33,000 providers in home health care in the U.S. today. Some home health care agencies are Medicare-certified (which means they have met federal minimum requirements). Home health agencies may offer a wide range of services, including medical care from a physician, or may just offer a few services, such as basic nursing care. Most home health agencies assemble a care team for the patient based on his or her needs. Because home health agencies are responsible for their personnel, they assume liability for all care. Home health agencies are usually available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Homemaker and home care aide agencies. Homemaker and home care aide agencies provide patients with the day-to-day care in the home, such as cooking meals, bathing, and dressing the patient, cleaning the house, and providing companionship. Some agencies are licensed, depending on state requirements.
Pharmaceutical and infusion therapy companies. Pharmaceutical and infusion therapy companies provide patients with drugs, equipment, and training to administer drugs and feedings in the home. Sometimes a pharmaceutical and infusion therapy company is also a Medicare-certified home health agency.
Durable medical equipment and supply dealers. Like pharmaceutical and infusion therapy companies, durable medical equipment and supply dealers provide equipment to the patient at home. Equipment may include respirators, wheelchairs, walkers, catheters, and more. The equipment is often delivered to the home and installed if necessary. If the patient requires it, the company may also train the patient and family to use the equipment. Some companies are licensed, depending on state requirements.
Staffing registries and private duty agencies. Staffing registries, or private duty agencies, are employment agencies for home health care workers. Workers are matched up with patients depending on need, such as nursing, homemaker, home care aide, or companionship. Usually the agency receives a "finder's fee."
Independent providers. Health care workers can also be hired outside of any agency. The patient can privately employ nurses, homemakers, companions, or other professionals. The hiring, supervision, and payment of these health care workers are the responsibility of the patient and family. In most states, programs are available to assist with the cost of these services for individuals who qualify.