Questions and Answers
Alegent Health at Home Care
Q-and-A: Hospital-to-Home Move Runs Smoother with a Game Plan
If you or a loved one ends up in the hospital, it’s reassuring to be ready for any complications during the stay, and to set up options for going home. By making full use of your resources, you can make a difficult experience a little easier. We asked our team at Alegent Health at Home to answer some basic questions often asked by patients or families in this situation. Please read their responses below, and, if you want to learn more, call Alegent Health at Home at (402) 898-8000.
1. Why do I need advance directives?
If you ever become unable to make sound decisions for yourself, advance directives are your safety net. At these times, advance directives documents indicate your wishes and assign a designated decision-maker to carry out those wishes regarding your medical treatment if you are incapacitated. >>Read more about advance directives
A living will specifies the type and extent of medical treatment you want if your doctor determines that your condition is terminal. The document will guide your decision-maker and medical team in providing that care.
A durable power of attorney document is another form of advance directive that allows someone you trust to act on your behalf in case you develop an incapacitating medical condition. This person will be able to make your bank transactions, sign Social Security checks, apply for disability, or simply write checks to pay the utility bill while you are medically incapacitated.
It is important to give your caregivers a copy of your living will or durable power of attorney so that they can carry out your choices in your care.
2. Mom will need help for six weeks at home after her surgery. How can home care help?
Planning ahead will make your mother’s recovery run more smoothly. A patient recovering from surgery, or managing a medical condition, can get care at home from skilled nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, or home health aids. This team can tailor care to meet your Mom’s needs following surgery.
Alegent Health at Home provides other services, such as IV therapy or home medical equipment. For example, if your mother needs IV therapy, an R.N. specializing in infusion pharmacy can come to her home to provide that care. If she needs medical equipment to keep her independent at home, walkers, beds, specialized mobility products, oxygen, respiratory programs or general education are available are also available through Alegent Health at Home.
3. Dad has been sick for a long time and hospice is an option in the future. How can this help him?
Hospice care is a treatment choice for patients with a terminal illness. This team of professionals would give your father medical, emotional and spiritual support in the hospital, home, or even in an assisted living or a nursing facility. It is important for you to discuss the goals of care with your medical team to better understand the choices that you and your family have for his advanced disease. The Hospice team will work with you to provide comfort, and aggressively manage symptoms. For the family, bereavement services are provided for up to 13 months after the death of their loved one who received hospice care.
4. What if I’m the only family member who can help Dad with hospice at home?
You are not alone. Many family members are afraid to leave a loved one alone, but must also tend to other obligations. Even under the best of circumstances, caring for a loved one who is dying is exhausting, and can take a mental and physical toll.
Alegent Health Hospice has volunteers in No One Dies Alone (NODA), a service based on the belief that no one needs to be alone during their final moments of life. Generally, the Alegent NODA volunteers are available for patients expected to die within 48 to 72 hours who do not have family or friends available to be with them. However, if requested by a patient or family, volunteers are also available at other times to talk, read, play music or quietly hold the patient’s hand or pray. Typically, a volunteer would take night-vigil shifts, giving family members a chance to shower and sleep. Volunteers do not perform nursing duties, but they can ease chapped lips and alert nurses to patient needs. These volunteers can help you by being with your Dad at times to offer companionship, comfort and support.
5. How do I know if I qualify for home health care or hospice?
Patients who need skilled nursing, physical therapy, or speech therapy on an intermittent basis can benefit from home health care. For home care, Medicare guidelines require that the patient be confined to home, which means the patient leaves the home infrequently and with difficulty. To qualify for hospice care, the doctor would assist you in determining that, if the illness runs its normal course, the patient would have less than six months to live.
With both programs, the staff will help a patient and family with their clinical needs as well as work with the physician for the most appropriate plan of care. Home care and hospice are covered by Medicare Part A, and most major health insurance plans. To be eligible, patients must meet specific criteria and be under a doctor’s care. For more information, call Alegent Health at Home at (402) 898-8000.