Home health care covers a wide range of services including nursing care; physical, speech, respiratory and occupational therapy; wound care and medical social services. If you are looking for home health care for your parent or older family member and need these services to be covered by Medicare, you must have a physician's prescription.
Once you have a prescription, your next step is to select home health care agencies
and determine their quality. One of the best ways to find out whether or not the agency offers high-quality care is to use Medicare's Home Health Compare
online tool. Go to medicare.gov
and on the home page click on Facilities & Doctors and then choose Compare Home Health Agencies
. Enter your parent's zip code to find the names and contact information for nearby home health agencies, the services each agency offers, whether or not it is Medicare-certified and its type of ownership (e.g., profit or non-profit).
After you select the local agencies that offer services your parent needs, you can then click on each one to see how it rates in 12 quality measures. You'll even learn how the agency's ratings stack up against other home health care agencies in the state and nation. You'll find out the percentage of its patients who, for example, have less pain when moving around, get better at taking their medicines, and show improvement in bladder control and post-surgery wound healing. You can also check what percentage of the agency's patients are readmitted to a hospital, require urgent, unplanned care, or whose wounds have gotten worse.
If you don't have access to the Internet, call Medicare at 1.800.633.4227 and ask if they'll give you quality measurement information on the home health care agencies you are considering. Also ask them for a free copy of Medicare and Home Health Care, an excellent guide for consumers, which describes how to find and use home health care services. You can also download a copy at the Medicare website.
By using the Home Health Compare tool on the Medicare website you'll be in a good position to find your parent an excellent home health care agency that offers the needed services.