Home care, most broadly defined, is any product or service which allows a consumer to receive health or supportive services in their own home, rather than in a hospital, nursing home, convalescent facility, etc.
Home care has a long history of providing quality care to individuals in their homes. A full spectrum of cost-effective services, ranging from high-tech nursing to non-medical assistance with the activity of daily living, are available. Home care services are provided by trained caregivers and include skilled nursing, rehabilitation and personal care services.
Most people prefer to stay at home rather than go to a hospital or nursing home when they can no longer manage their own care. Home care is not just an alternative to institutional care – home care services can allow many individuals to avoid institutional care altogether.
Home health agencies in California made 15.6 million visits to more than 828,000 patients in 2015, the latest year for which figures are available. In 2015, more than 160,000 hospice patients received more than 10.5 million total days of care.
Home care has been and is a rapidly growing industry for a number of reasons.
Home care is cost effective – numerous studies have shown that home care is generally the most cost-effective care option. Used prior to, in place of, or after hospitalization, home care can reduce the length-of-stay and save money over the course of an illness.
Home care has a unique position within the health care system because:
With so many patients receiving home care and hospice services, ensuring quality of care is vitally important. Fortunately, a number of measures of quality are available to consumers.
Organized home care and hospice program are regulated by both the state and federal governments. Licensed home health and hospice agencies undergo an initial licensure survey through the California Department of Public Health. Medicare Certified programs are surveyed every three years against the Medicare Conditions of Participation. Home care aide agencies are licensed by the California Department of Social Services. Home infusion pharmacies are regulated by the Board of Pharmacy, and home medical equipment companies are required to be licensed by the Department of Public Health, Food and Drug Branch.
CAHSAH maintains a Certification Program for home care aide organizations. Certified agencies have met CAHSAH’s high quality standards for certification.
Many providers seed voluntary accreditation through organizations such as the Accreditation Commission of Home Care (ACHC); Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP); Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO); and the National Association for Home Care, Home Care Aid Services Accreditation Program.
As employers, home care organizations also comply with all federal and state OSHA requirements, as well as other applicable business laws and regulations.