America has a highly developed health care system, which is available to all people. Today the level of health care has excelled tremendously. Presently the goal of American health care is to have a continuum of care for the patient/ Many hospitals offer a discharge plan to patients who are being discharged. This enables the patient to continue their care at a level which is most appropriate for them.
A few of the options that are available for persons suffering from acute diseases can include home health care, assisted living facilities, long term care or hospice.
Home health care is one of the fastest growing segments of the health care industry. Alternatives for home care can meet both medical and non-medical needs of a patient. These services are provided to patients and their families in their home. Numerous alternatives are available for persons seeking health care at home. In a home health care situation the primary care giver is usually not the physician. The physician is communicated with by phone and with documentation from the caregivers. The primary caregivers are usually the nurses who are involved directly with the patient’s care.
Medicare pays the full cost of medically necessary home health visits. Unfortunately, if the care to be given within the home is termed “not medically necessary” the expense is not covered. This can include items such as meal and medication delivery, personal care. These costs can add up quite quickly and the impact of the cost can become quite distressing for family members and patients on a limited budget. In these cases a Social Worker is usually provided to help the patient and family explore other avenues which may enable them to cover their health care costs.
Assisted living is an arrangement to residents of a facility that enables them to complete certain daily activities while remaining independent. The services are unskilled and non-specialized personnel provide these activities essential to the care of the resident. These services help assist the aged, blind, disabled with necessary daily activities which they require help with or are unable to perform on their own. An example of some of the services which may be available are light housekeeping, meal preparation, and personal care. The personal care does not include specific health oriented services which would require the services of a certified or licensed professional. Although the level of services provided may vary, the goal of an assisted living facility is to have the residents feel independent within their own home.
Long-term care patients are categorized by having a chronic disease. It consists of an organized medical staff, which provides continuous nursing services. The patient’s status is reviewed on a regular basis to determine if they meet criteria to remain at the facility. The long-term care facility is regulated by state licensure regulations, federal regulations and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). Long-term care is very expensive and it often becomes financial catastrophe for the elderly person and their family.
Unfortunately, the last resort for some patients may be hospice care. Hospice is an organized program that offers dying persons and their families an alternative to traditional care for terminal illness. Hospice enables the patient to receive medical care, while meeting the psychosocial and spiritual needs of the patient, their family and friends. The quality of life of the terminally ill patients relies heavily on the psychosocial skills of their health care team.
The health care team consists of a physician, nurse, social worker, chaplain, home health aide and volunteers. The team develops an individual care plan which will provide an appropriate support system for the patient and their family up to and beyond the patient’s death.
Hospice care can be received in a variety of organizational settings. The most preferred setting is of course within the patient’s own home, but nursing homes, hospitals and long-term care facilities can also provide hospice care. The regulating agencies that set the standards for hospices are Medicare, the National Hospice Organization and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO).