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Home Health Care Needs

Some cancer patients require specialized health care assistance. This might happen during or after cancer treatment. Home health care services can provide certain types of temporary or ongoing medical care at home. The goal is to make it possible to remain safe and comfortable at home while having a good quality of life.

A young woman caregiver helping an older man walk

A member of your health care team might suggest adding home health care services to your treatment plan. This type of care is usually less expensive than care provided in a medical facility, but you will still have access to hospitals or other health care facilities.

Home health care workers include:

  • Home health aides.
  • Nurses.
  • Social workers.
  • Physical therapists.
  • Occupational therapists.
  • Speech therapists.

Home health care services include:

  • Lab draws.
  • Nutritional planning.
  • Home-delivered meals.
  • Use of medical supplies or equipment.
  • Help with personal needs such as bathing.
  • Administering medications such as antibiotics.
  • Would home health care services be helpful in my situation?
  • Will you prescribe home health care services?
  • What types of services do you suggest?
  • Do you recommend specific home health care providers?
  • Will my insurance cover all of the expenses of home health care?

Types of Home Health Care

There are two types of home health care services for illness or injury:

Short-term (or acute) care helps you take care of yourself. It helps you to be as independent as possible.

Long-term care helps you adjust to and manage changes caused by health issues. It supports you to be at the highest level of function and health.

Talk with your health care provider if home health care services are needed. Discuss any problems you are having with daily activities. Ask about the types of health care services that may be available to you at home. Your physician must prescribe the services in order for insurance to pay. Also, talk with your insurance provider to find out about your plan’s home health care coverage. Ask the insurer to put information in writing for you.

Your physician, nurse, patient navigator or social worker can recommend specific, quality home health care service providers in your area. Friends and loved ones may also have information to share.

Interview Potential Home Health Care Providers

Questions to ask:

  • What is your experience in the health care field and where did you previously work?
  • What specific skills and training do you have?
  • How do you handle difficult situations?
  • Do you have transportation?
  • Are you physically able to transfer someone from one place to another?
  • Are there any tasks listed in the job description that you are uncomfortable performing?
  • Can you provide personal and work-related references?

Home Health Care Costs

Home health care services can be costly. You might have to pay for some long-term home care with personal funds. Private health insurance or disability policies may cover some of the expenses. State and federal Medicaid and Medicare programs may pay some of the costs. Contact your local human service programs for more information. Your local Area Agency on Aging should also be able to provide information about help in your area.

Personal Home Care

Some families use a formal caregiver contract to hire a loved one to do home care for a family member. This is called a personal service or personal care agreement. If you’re thinking about doing this, get legal guidance from an attorney who specializes in this area.

In certain cases, you may need to find a companion and not someone skilled in medical care. It can cost less to hire on your own. However, it can take a lot of time to find the right caregiver, and it may be more complex than you think. For example, you may be legally required to pay taxes or purchase insurance for the caregiver. Talk with an expert about what is required if you employ the caregiver yourself. You will also want to carefully check references if you do not already know the caregiver.

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