That is the theme that our acting governor and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice have designated for the 2017 Home Care and Hospice Month being celebrated this November.
In the proclamation for this special cause, signed this past Oct. 24, 2017, everyone is encouraged to honor and recognize the dedicated and heroic people who work behind the scenes, promoting good health and providing life-sustaining care to individuals in the places where they are most comfortable, their homes. In the CNMI, these men and women—nurses, physical therapists, home health aides and social workers—make a positive difference for the patients and families they serve each day by continuing their health care in homes across the island. They utilize their education and skills tirelessly to do what is best for their patients so that they may have the best possible quality of life.
But what exactly is home health care and when would it be used? Per the Medicare.gov website, “Home health care is a wide range of health care services that can be given in your home for an illness or injury.” The site also indicates that this care is “usually less expensive, more convenient, and just as effective as care you get in a hospital…”
When a patient is newly discharged from the hospital, sometimes they still require continued medical attention such as I.V. therapy, wound care after surgery, or education when diagnosed with a new medical condition. In some cases, this care can be executed by providers other than physicians and in locations other than hospitals or clinics. Or, perhaps during a routine medical checkup, a physician finds this type of medical care necessary and observes that it is a hardship for the patient to continuously return to the hospital/clinic for services. In these cases, physicians can order for this necessary, continued health care to be provided by nurses, physical therapists, home health aides, and social workers. While these services can mostly be provided by the hospital and clinics throughout the island, some patients experience extreme hardship in traveling from their homes to these facilities, perhaps due to mobility issues. This is when home care and hospice providers can come in to provide holistic health care in the home.
One might think that home health providers simply go into the homes and provide the physician-ordered medical care needed and then leave. However, they do more than medically-related procedures. They do environmental safety assessments and patient and caregiver education, teaching about medical conditions, medications (what they are for, how they work, side effects, and when to take them), safety (especially for patients with conditions which make them prone to accidents), coping skills and special diets, just to name a few. Home health care providers listen to the needs and concerns of their patients and their caregivers. When necessary, they help them to meet their social needs, whenever possible, by providing assistance through community resource planning. But most importantly, home health care providers work with patients and caregivers to develop and meet health goals step by step, helping them to achieve the best quality of life possible given their health situations.
Please stay tuned for additional articles to learn more about home health care and hospice in this newspaper during the month of November. Also, please take advantage of a free health screening to be held on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 from 7am to 9am at the Sabalu Market in Susupe.