Lisa Bivens, Executive Director of Panhandle Home Health called on all Americans to commemorate National Home Care & Hospice Month throughout November. The agency also called attention to Home Care Aide Week on November 10 to 16. These critical workers play a central role in their patients’ lives, and NAHC recognizes their efforts with this year’s theme: “Home is the Center of Health Care.”
“Caring for the sick, elderly and dying in their homes truly is a privilege for us, “ said Lisa Bivens, Executive Director of Panhandle Home Health. “Home care professionals, volunteers and modern medicine make it possible for people to stay in their homes, regardless of their condition.”
In coming years, home care and hospice are poised to play a central role in the delivery of healthcare throughout the country. A wide range of forces is joining to push care away from nursing homes and drive it toward home and community-based care. Based on demography and dollars, experts agree that the destiny of health care lies in the home.
There is growing demand for home care, yet the Medicare home health benefit has been cut by $77 billion over 10 years. The cumulative effect of these disproportionate cuts has been to weaken what was once a $17 billion industry by pushing thousands of providers to the point of bankruptcy. The cuts have an even more serious impact on patients by limiting their access to the care they need at home. Recent cuts in reimbursement are expected to result in nearly 35% of all WV home health providers operating at a net loss by 2017. Providers may be forced to make the difficult decision to limit the areas they serve in order to survive, with rural areas being the most at risk. This will leave our most vulnerable population without access to the care they need in order to remain at home. Home health agency closures or reduction in services areas are expected to result in the loss of over 2,500 jobs in our state alone.
There will be even more patients who need home care as the 78 million baby boomers continue to age. The first of the boomers turned 65 last year and the rest will reach their golden years over the next two decades. As they do, health care dollars will grow even more scarce, especially if Medicare provides the boomers with costly institutional care.
But there is a better way. 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 $2,000 per day for a typical hospital stay and $559 per day for a typical nursing home stay. Meanwhile, home care costs just $44 a day on average. And home care, combined with technology, helps the many U.S. seniors who live at home to stay independent, enrich their lives, and keep in touch with those they love.
Home care aides also play a central role by joining in patients’ lives, whether this involves light meal preparation, personal care or assisting with exercises. Aides are there to provide seniors with company and conversation, and many aides are more than caregivers for their patients. They are often friends who give warmth and comfort to the aged and ill.
“Many of our patients refer to their home health aide as their “angel”. It’s clear that they touch our patients’ lives in a very special way, Bivens stated.”
NAHC looks to the future in its theme, “Home is the Center of Health Care,” the product of a brainstorming session at the NAHC Strategic Planning Congress in February 2013. The session brought together members of NAHC’s board of directors and the heads of its Forum of State Associations, along with key leaders from the home care and hospice industry. They exchanged their thoughts under the leadership of Dr. Lance Secretan, management expert, author, editor and former corporate CEO. Their joint expression of home care’s goals gained approval from NAHC’s board of directors in June.
For more information on the National Association for Home Care & Hospice - National Home Care & Hospice Month and Home Care Aide Week (November 10-16, 2013), visit www.nahc.org.
Since 1976, Panhandle Home Health, Inc. has provided home health care services to residents of Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia. Their licensed and certified staff includes registered professional nurses, medical social workers, physical, speech, and occupational therapists, a registered dietician and certified home health aides, who provide high quality health care.
Panhandle Home Health views patients as individuals and focuses on meeting each person’s specific needs. Services are provided based on the patient's condition, physician’s orders, scope of services, and payor coverage. Panhandle Home Health, Inc. is a nonprofit agency and a member of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.