Home care is health care or compassionate personal care given by a skilled caregiver at the patient’s home, rather than health care provided in nursing homes or group homes. Home care is also sometimes referred to as domiciliary care, public health care or residential care. The care giver is either a family member, a friend or a licensed nurse. Some people choose to receive home care services from a faith-based organization, which gives volunteers their services for a stipulated period of time.

     There are many benefits to home health care. The key benefit is patient safety. All caregivers should have gone through education and training to become board certified and should have documented evidence of this training and certification. The majority of caregivers are licensed by state boards to provide services. This ensures that patients receive safe and high quality care provided by competent professionals.

     Home health care patients have lower hospital admissions, fewer admissions to intensive care units and longer periods in hospital than patients admitted to a traditional hospital, nursing facility or rehabilitation center. Patients who receive informal caregivers have better outcomes than those receiving inpatient care. Patients have higher recoveries and fewer new health problems five years following discharge from a hospital or other long term care facility. Home health care patients are more likely to return to normal activities and to be in better psychological and physical condition than they would be if they stayed in their facilities.

     Studies have shown that home health care patients have better outcomes if they have a work environment that is less stressful and if their caregivers are vigilant about observing their progress and making adjustments if necessary. A healthy work environment can help improve quality of life and medical complications are rare in a work environment that provides support for a patient’s health care needs. In addition, patients in a care setting that feels like a home can be less likely to have unplanned hospital admissions due to feeling more comfortable and having an improved work environment.

     There are many types of home health care interventions. Many of these interventions are provided in hospitals or other long term care facilities. However, there are also interventions that can be done in the comfort of the patient’s own home. Two such interventions include teaching patients how to prepare and eat a meal and informing them about their nutritional and exercise programs. A third intervention called periodic contact with the physician’s office improves communication between the patient and the caregiver. In randomized controlled trials, a reduction in hospital admissions and an increase in survival was observed for patients receiving dietary counseling and periodic contact with the doctor’s office.

      Studies have identified several risk factors that can affect the provision of home health care services. These include demographics, sex, ethnicity and medication type. The majority of studies suggest that nurses play an important role in educating individuals about their own medical history and in developing a personalized care plan for each patient. Other studies have indicated that nurses, when working together with physicians and the patients’ family members, help to lower health-related costs by identifying appropriate patient-based interventions and minimizing the potential for adverse events.

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