Home care is a topic that has received much attention primarily in regards to Medicare investigation of allegations of fraud. The real crime attached to the concept of Home Care is that the members of our respective Communities don’t understand what Home Care is all about, or what benefits they actually have under Medicare Home Care coverage. What is even worse, they do not know the many different options available to them regarding Home Care services.
We are a Geriatric Consulting and Home Care Company located in Pennsylvania. We have existed in the same location for over ten years. We are there to service the members of this particular community. To this day, we, and therefore the services we provide are ignored by the Hospital Community. This is evidenced by the comments we so often hear from people who acquire our services; comments such as, “Oh I never knew you existed; where were you five years ago when I really needed help with my mother; why didn’t the hospital tell me about you?” The point is that we have been in this community, and are not known the way we should be. Why is this? Most people needing geriatric care services and home care services first find out about such services while being a patient in a hospital environment. Local hospitals have their own Home Care services. However these Home Care services are offered under the Medicare Program. What exactly does this mean? Licensed by Medicare means that Medicare will pay for a portion of the services needed by the patient. The key word here is Portion. By law Hospitals are required to provide a listing of Medicare Funded Home Care Agencies to the patient, in order to alleviate any perception by the patient that the hospital isn’t recommending their own Hospital’s Home Care service over any others. However, it is not mandated by law that this listing include Home-Health Care companies that are Non-Medicare Certified. And although it is important for Seniors and Caregivers to have a listing of both types of Home Care service providers, the majority of Hospitals opt not to include the non-Medicare Home Health Care Companies.
Why (you may ask,) is it important that people know the differences between a Home Care Agency that provides services covered by Medicare and Non-Medicare Reimbursed Home Care Services? Because the majority of services you will need to acquire for the person needing Home Care will be provided under a Non-Medicare Home Health Care Company. Lets look at what Non-Medicare Home Care means. Over the years it has been portrayed to people that a Non-Medicare Home Care provider is bad and that a Medicare Licensed Home care Agency is good. Yes, it is that simple, yet totally false. Whether a home care company is reimbursed by Medicare (government) or paid privately by citizens (which is the case for a non-Medicare private home care company), does not, – let me repeat this, – does not, guarantee that one kind of provider of these services is better or performs better than the other. It is strictly a way to differentiate the type, amount of services, and the way that home care is paid for. And that’s it! The propaganda that has occurred over the past 10 years has included the notion that if the services are provided by Medicare, since the government is supervising its operation, then the Medicare Home Health Care Agency necessarily offers better quality and provides better care than a Non-Medicare Home Care Provider. This is propaganda, and nothing is further from the truth. Quality of Care is attained and maintained, not by government intervention, but by the motivation of the owner of the Home Health Care Company, and its employees. Nothing more. There are owners of private non-Medicare home health Care companies that have a strong sense of commitment and passion, to offer the highest quality of home health care service to its clients, just as there are Managers of Medicare-based Home Health care agencies who do the same. In contrast, there are horrible private non-Medicare home health care companies and equally horrible Medicare home-health care agencies. Private non-Medicare home health care companies offer services in addition to those provided by the Medicare home health care companies. The problem is that people in their respective communities never get to hear, come to understand or to know about the majority of community based non-Medicare home health care services because the hospital who is the patient’s first contact regarding this type of service does not adequately inform the community about them. For whatever reason, representatives from non-Medicare home health care companies are not welcomed in the majority of hospitals when they attempt to share information about their services. This practice by Hospitals negatively affects its patients and families, since it is at these times when the Senior and Caregivers are most vulnerable that they NEED as much information as possible so that they can decide on the best course of action for themselves or their loved ones. It is the responsibility of all Physicians, Nurses, Social Workers and Discharge Planners to advise their patient as to ALL home health care options, not just a select few. One would think that any type of service that offers quality care in a particular Community would be welcomed, and nurtured. The reality is however that services such as the one I have described to you are not utilized to its fullest potential within the community, thereby not enabling the community member to benefit optimally from all services available in his or her community.
I hope that there will come a time when people in their respective Communities will come to realize that there is much information, aspects and options relating to Geriatric Care Consulting and Home Health Care Services that the Hospitals are not providing to its patients. Hopefully this will be sufficient motivation for people to work diligently at finding out information for themselves. In spite of people needing to choose home health care for themselves or their loved-ones when they are the most vulnerable, they will need to muster the strength and courage to be leaders, not followers, in investigating ALL the home care options that are available to them, and then acting on them. The rule of thumb in the area of finding quality Home Care services needed to supplement the very few hours that a Medicare Home Care Agency provides, is to listen to all recommendations offered, but then thoroughly to investigate options yourself or hire a Geriatric Care Manager (Consultant) to do this for you.
Copyright 1999 Elder-Service, Inc.