21- Jul2016
Posted By: Tony Fischer

Home Care: How It Works

Home Care is the fastest growing segment of the senior healthcare continuum and for good reason. Seniors want great healthcare but they also want control.  With the negative stigmas surrounding nursing homes, seniors are often choosing care in their own home rather than care in a facility.

Nursing Home care has its place in the healthcare continuum but it is costly.  With monthly rates ranging between $8,500 to $15,000 many are opting to spend their healthcare dollars in the comfort of their own home. Medicare has also shifted healthcare dollars by cutting funding to nursing homes and funding pilot programs designed to promote home care innovations.

With so much opportunity comes competition.  Thousands of Home Care companies have sprung onto the market hoping to capitalize on the Baby Boomer retirement rush causing confusion for consumers and referral sources.

Every level of the senior care continuum has its place but large caseloads prevent social workers from spending the time it takes to explain how each level works.

In this post we will talk about home care, how it starts and how it works.

How it Starts

Home Care is covered by Medicare Part A. It is approved in 60 day increments called “certification periods”.  In order for someone to qualify for Home Care they must be homebound.  Homebound is defined by Medicare as an individual who is confined to home because …a condition, due to an illness or injury, that restricts the ability of the individual to leave his or her home except with the assistance of another individual or the aid of a supportive device… according to the Centers for Medicare Advocacy.

A patient doesn’t need to have a qualifying hospital stay in order to begin home care but they do need an order from a doctor.  That order can come at any time but must be prescribed specifically to treat a particular diagnosis. Additionally it must be explained to the patient why they are being prescribed home care treatment (called a face-to-face).

Home Care is an excellent tool if used to prevent a possible hospital stay.  If prescribed at the first sign of weakness or exacerbation of a chronic illness it can prevent the senior from entering a cycle of hospitalization.

How it Works

After the home care company receives the referral they have 48 hours to open the case.  In order to do that a nurse must go to the patient’s home to complete an evaluation.  After the case is opened a physical therapist and sometimes an occupational therapist will come out to complete their own evaluations.  After all the initial evaluations and paperwork is complete, the treatment team will decide on a schedule (also known as frequency) they will use to provide the physician directed treatment.

As with any other type of short-term health care insurance, coverage only continues if the patient continues to show progress. Coverage ends when the patient achieves their treatment goals or stops showing progress toward them.

20- Jul2016
Posted By: Tony Fischer

When Developing A Senior Care Plan, Don’t Forget Elder Law

Legal documents are often left out of a senior care plan, yet they are just as important as the medications people take.  In fact legal documents allow the senior themselves to maintain control over their health by appointing a healthcare advocate.  If incapacitated a healthcare proxy can make sure the healthcare decisions of the senior are followed. It is difficult to develop an effective senior care plan without addressing both the logisitic and elder law issues. You can have the most detailed care plan ever written but without the legal authority to enforce it you run the risk of losing control.  Conversely a legal plan that does not address healthcare challenges will also fail to be effective.

Let’s focus on the legal aspect of the senior care plan.  There are a couple of documents that are absolutely vital.

How Does Elder Law Help

Medical Power of Attorney

Strong Medical Powers of Attorney have two parts.  Advanced Directives and a Healthcare Proxy.  An Advanced Directive specifically states what the senior’s healthcare wishes are. They can include everything from directions about types of treatment to Do Not Resuscitate orders. The healthcare proxy designates a person or group of people to make healthcare decisions in case of incapacity.

Financial Power of Attorney

Many think that Power of Attorney documents cover both medical and financial.  While they can address both issues, having separate documents might be more effective.  Strong Financial Powers of Attorney can also be very specific and give specific instruction on how to handle bank accounts and insurance policies. The separation also allows you to appoint a separate people for each task.  That can be important if one family member is more comfortable making medical decisions than financial ones.

Certified Elder Care Attorney: A Member of Our Team

If you have a Power of Attorney in place, nice work you have taken an important step.  If your Power of Attorney documents were prepared a decade ago you may have to have them updated. States often tweak laws regarding power of attorney.  Be sure to check with a Certified Elder Law Attorney to make sure your legal documents do what they are supposed to do.