In a time when vulnerable populations are being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible to prevent COVID-19 exposure, the home health industry is proving to be a safer alternative to traditional methods of care. Hospitals are crowded, doctors are overworked, and tens of millions of surgeries have been postponed as a result of the pandemic. Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes—exposing the inherent risks of having members of vulnerable populations living together in close quarters.
Home health care has long been a viable alternative to nursing home placement and recurring doctor’s visits. But the pandemic is reinforcing its many benefits, particularly in times of crisis. Home health services are in increasingly high demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and the conversation around expanding the Medicare home health benefit is growing louder. So, what exactly are the benefits that are driving more patients and policymakers toward home health care?
For one, there is the reduced risk of contracting contagious diseases from others. While this risk is especially high in a global pandemic, it was also present before COVID-19, and will continue to be present after. There are existing diseases that are known to spread quickly in nursing homes, most commonly respiratory infections (often caused by influenza viruses) and gastrointestinal infections (often caused by noroviruses). Then there is the potential for future viral outbreaks; public health officials say that another pandemic is “a probability, not a possibility.” Does that mean we should live in fear? Absolutely not. But it’s a good reminder to weigh the risks before placing a family member or loved one into an assisted living facility.
Secondly, it’s easier and safer to visit our loved ones in a home health care setting rather than in a nursing home setting. With many facilities under strict lockdown orders, seniors have been forced to give up regular visits from family and friends in order to prevent a deadly coronavirus outbreak. In contrast, seniors who receive home health care services can still visit with their loved ones as long as necessary precautions are taken, like maintaining a safe distance from one another and wearing masks at all times.
Lastly, we can’t neglect the mental health benefits that home health care offers. Who wouldn’t prefer the comfort of one’s own home to the often cold and sterile environment of a hospital or assisted living facility? Patients who receive home health care have a higher quality of life, more freedom, stronger connection to family members, and often faster recovery times. In addition, home health care is usually less expensive than hospital care or a skilled nursing facility, but just as effective and more convenient.
If you’re looking for a safer (and happier!) alternative to traditional methods of care, we hope you’ll explore the possibility of home health. Give us a call at 800-309-3784 to begin the conversation.