Fred recently had a stroke, was hospitalized for a short time, and is now recovering at home. His doctor contacted a local home health care agency, who provided him a complete home care plan for six weeks. Because the home care was ordered by Fred’s doctor Medicare covered the costs. During the first week a nurse visited Fred’s home daily, met with the family to discuss special dietary needs and exercise therapy treatments. Currently, a nurse comes twice a week to monitor Fred’s progress; a homemaker visits several times a week to shop and cook light meals; and a physical therapist visits three times a week to provide regular movement and exercise.
What is Home Health Care?
Home health care can include skilled nursing, occupational, respiratory, speech and physical therapy, or home health aide. It can include assistance with dressing, bathing, toileting, self-administered medications, meal preparation, and housekeeping. Home health care covers the use of assistive devices such as walkers, hospital beds, wheelchairs, and oxygen.
Home health care is usually medically oriented and is different from the homemaker and personal care services mentioned on the next page. People who provide home health care can be registered and licensed practical nurses, therapists, or homemaker-home health aides. They usually work through a home health agency, hospital, or public health department.
Kansas home health agencies must be licensed and surveyed annually by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. You may be able to verify their reputation through your local health department or Area Agency on Aging.
Ask the agency if they are accredited by additional professional organizations and request a copy of the accreditation report. All home health agencies are required to follow the Client Bill of Rights and a copy should be given to each client. If you have any problems, call the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at 800-842-0078.
What programs help pay for home health care?
Medicare or Medicaid may pay for home health visits if all of the following conditions are met:
- you must be homebound
- need intermittent skilled nursing care, or physical therapy, or speech therapy
- under the care of a doctor who determines you need home health care and sets up a home health care plan for you
- the home health agency providing the care is Medicare certified
- you meet the age and resource eligibility guidelines when using Medicaid.
You do not have to pay a deductible or coinsurance when you receive home health care covered by Medicare, with the exception of a 20% co-payment on durable medical equipment (like a wheelchair).
Private insurance, Medicare supplement or long term care insurance may also cover some home health care expenses. Many home health agencies also offer service on a private pay basis. There may be other sources of funding available as well. Check the eligibility requirements for programs on the Kansas Department on Aging web site.
What criminal background checks are done?
Home health agencies and adult care homes are required by Kansas law to check the criminal backgrounds of the people who have worked for them less than five years and of the people who apply for employment with them. Upon request, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment makes the criminal background checks through the Kansas Bureau of Investigation records.
In general, home health agencies and adult care homes may not permit people to work for them who have been convicted of the Kansas crimes of capital murder, first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, assisting suicide, mistreatment of a dependent adult, rape, indecent liberties with a child, aggravated indecent liberties with a child, aggravated criminal sodomy, indecent solicitation of a child, aggravated indecent solicitation of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, sexual battery, or aggravated sexual battery or of similar crimes under Federal or other state’s laws.
However, home health agencies and adult care homes are allowed to employ persons convicted of some types of crimes against persons, sex offenses, and crimes affecting family relationships (except those types of crimes listed above) as long as more than five years have passed since the potential employee satisfied the criminal sentence or parole.
For in-home services which aren’t provided by home health agencies or adult care homes, and are funded through KDOA or the Area Agencies on Aging, KDOA requires direct service providers to obtain sworn statements disclosing criminal convictions from the applicants, employees, and contractors who perform the in-home services. Customers who choose individuals to provide in-home services for them under the self-directed care option of the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services for the Frail Elderly Waiver Program are responsible for checking the criminal backgrounds of their service providers.
Where can I find more information?
Your hospital or physician may be your first source of information about home health care, but you may also call your local public health department or the Area Agency on Aging. Part Four of this book, or your telephone book’s Yellow Pages (under “Home Health,” “Home Care Services,” “Nurses,” or “Nursing Services”) are also good sources of information.