Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Home Care Services

Home care services for people with cancer can range from a nurse to assist you with home administered treatment, to assistance with personal care and homemaking when you are not feeling well for an extended period of time.

Your doctor, nurse or social worker will help you understand what type of home care you will need. If your doctor has not suggested that you receive home care, but you feel you do need assistance, ask ! In order for certain home care services to be covered by insurance they must be "prescribed" by a doctor.
  • Most communities have "home health" agencies that offer home care services. Some are nonprofit (for example, Visiting Nurse Associations), which may provide low-cost or free care; others are private agencies. Your social worker, oncology nurse, or doctor will usually know about home care agencies in your area.
  • In cases where there is a need for a "skilled" nurse to help at home, the specialized services will be covered by insurance. Skilled nurse assistance and home health aide assistance are different levels of care therefore check with your insurance company and make sure you understand your coverage.
  • If you need help but your insurance does not cover the type of assistance you need check with community agencies which usually provide a "sliding" fee payment scale that takes into account your income. Private agencies may also be willing to negotiate a lower fee if you are going to need them for an extended period of time.
  • The National Association for Home Care has a helpful pamphlet titled " How to Select a Home Care Agency." Their website has a home care/hospice locator with more than 28,000 agencies listed to help you locate resources in your area.
  • Also as a cancer patient home care services such as cooking, shopping and personal care may be available to you (regardless of age) through your local Area Agency on Aging. Also, many family service agencies such as Catholic Charities, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and Jewish Family Services have community homemaker programs. Please note that community homemaker services are rarely covered by your health insurance carrier.
  • If you prefer to pay for private home care check with your local church, synagogue or community organization first. They will know of trustworthy people willing to help you out in the home privately but remember to check all references and to discuss needs and responsibilities as well as clear payment arrangements upfront.

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