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  • Home Health Month

Published on November 27, 2013

Home Health Month

Jean Hunhoff
Avera@Home Regional Director

November is a special month, and not only because of Thanksgiving. For home care providers, November is National Home Care Month. This year's theme, "Home is the Center of Health Care," reflects the change that is taking place in improving the health status of our population. The old saying, “there is no place like home,” rings true when it comes to the health of mind, body and spirit. Health care had its original beginning in the home. When a family member became ill, it was family that provided the care. There were no health care professionals as we know them today, and no hospitals to take over the care.

Diseases of today that most impact our ability to care for self are chronic conditions. They require medications for medical management, frequent monitoring of health status and adaptations in our ability to care for self. Home-based care is clinically effective, utilizing advanced technologies and helping to cost-effectively manage chronic diseases that account for 75 percent of our nation's health care spending. Yet despite this low cost preferred option, the government has planned $12 billion in Medicare cuts to the industry over the next few years and recent the Administration recommended adding co-pays to home health benefits for the new beneficiaries starting in 2017.

Consider in this community what services enable individuals to remain independent in their homes:  home health services, hospice, parish nursing, homemakers, meals on wheels, senior citizens center, senior companionship services, mental health services, social services, assisted living, adult day care, Retired Senior Volunteers and Yankton Transportation are a few of the many services.

Home care improves our society’s quality of life by enabling individuals to stay in the comfort and security of their own homes during times of illness, disability and recuperation. Home care maintains the patient’s dignity and independence, qualities that commonly are lost in the institutional settings. It offers a wide range of specialized services tailored to meet the needs of every individual on a personal provider-to-patient basis. It also reinforces and supplements informal care by educating the patient’s family members and friends about the care-giving process.

Times have changed for the better in the sense of early detection and diagnosis, technology and treatment for diseases. Home care and hospice will most likely to play a key role in coming years. “Home care is not just the preferred choice for most patients: it's also the best bang for our health care dollars. It costs Medicare nearly $2000 per day for typical hospital stay and $559 per day for a typical nursing home stay. Meanwhile home costs just under $44 a day on an average.” ( Millions of baby boomers are turning 65 and as this continues to happen, the increase in our senior demographic is making Medicare and health care dollars more and more scarce. This is one of the reasons we are seeing a shift in health care moving from hospitals and nursing facilities toward in home and community-based care.

Avera is responding to the changing demographics for our elderly population to provide quality care for our patients, access to services, remain independent in the home and create efficiencies that will sustain community based services as reimbursement for services continues to decline. Avera@Home has been created to combine all Avera home care programs under one umbrella. The intent is to provide community based services in Avera's 85 county service areas. The agencies will continue to provide the same services with the same staff and at the same locations. The result is that more non clinical associated activities of an agency can be consolidated so that the direct providers of home care services can be in the community serving our patients. Here in Yankton everything is the same except our name, which effective December 4 is Avera@Home. We will continue with our tradition of providing the highest quality of home care services.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving and recall our many gifts, please remember the home care professionals who make a difference every day.  They make it possible for home care to be where the healing begins.

For more information about home care and hospice services in the Yankton area, call Avera@Home Yankton at (605) 668-8327.