Over the years I’ve had many people ask me how they can get home health for themselves, a friend or a family member. Many people require home health when they’ve had a culmination of issues occur – falls, generalized weakness, change of status, accident or onset of disease. In other cases, people require home health after a surgery such as a hip or knee replacement. Many of the patients I worked with during the pandemic became increasingly weaker from not going out in the community, and in turn, not exercising as much as they previously had been. The latter benefitted tremendously from receiving home health services to return to their baseline condition.

In order to get home health services a person must have had a hospitalization, or a consultation with their doctor in which it’s determined that the person has had a significant change in condition. Often falls or generalized weakness are reasons people require home health, especially during the pandemic. When I was taking Lyft around San Francisco seeing patients, many of my drivers inquired about how to get home health for relative. My answer is still the same because the process is the same – call the person’s doctor to set up an in-person or virtual appointment to discuss receiving home health. The doctor will want to know what has changed and if any other interventions can be tried first, or at the same time as home health therapy.

To qualify for home health a person must be considered “homebound” meaning they are unable to leave their home with a few exceptions. Medical appointments are an exception, and funerals can occasionally be considered an exception. If a person can leave their home routinely than they would no longer qualify for home health. However, those that can leave their home may qualify for outpatient services for occupational, physical or speech therapy if their doctor recommends it and is willing to sign off on it.

Having home health is a great way to get a home safety evaluation from an occupational therapist to determine which areas are safe. Occupational therapists can help people determine areas that might be difficult to navigate within a home as people age and find it harder to get around. This home safety evaluation is one of the benefits of a home health occupational therapy visit. An occupational therapist can also recommend equipment that may assist in maintaining independence with activities of daily living (ADLs) including bathing, using the toilet, getting dressed, and other activities including cooking, pet care, gardening and other home-based activities. Additionally, home health physical and occupational therapy can assist in customizing a home exercise program to meet a person’s goals. Home health can, and often does include nursing care. Any skilled nursing care, except for drawing blood, may qualify for home health services. However, the purpose of this article is to answer one of the many questions I get – how do I get rehab for my parent at home?

If you or someone you know might benefit from having home health therapy, please consult the primary care doctor to discuss this option. Feel free to post any questions in the discussion and I’ll answer them as they come up. Be well

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