Improving Home Health Care Visits

May 24, 2018

Home health care workers play a significant role in helping patients go from a facility like a hospital to receiving care at home. Important to the success of this transition and to minimizing potential risks, such as patient injury, is a worker’s communication, education, assessment, and leadership skills. Even the most experienced home health care provider should be reevaluating their employees’ routines to ensure that they are delivering excellent care.

Following are some tips for providers and their workers to review:

  • Visits need to be completed in a timely manner and in accordance with CMS regulations and per the doctor’s specific orders for admissions and/or discharges. Make sure the care provided is well documented.
  • In setting up an appointment for patient visits, the home health care worker should map out the driving route to the home and consider any potential weather impact or road construction to prevent unnecessary delays. (Be sure the home healthcare provider carries Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance to protect against potential accidents involving employees while driving their vehicles in the scope of their business duties.)
  • Go over all paperwork thoroughly, including the referral and physician documentation, and know about the patient’s recent procedures, medical and social history before visiting the home. This will help avoid the potential for mistakes, including medication errors, which may involve everything from not administering medication when scheduled, giving a patient the wrong medication dosage, or failing to administer the correct medication. In some cases if the patient’s condition worsens as a result of an error, this can lead to a liability claim against a home health care provider alleging negligence or oversight. (Entity Professional Liability insurance is designed to step in to protect a provider in the event of such a claim, but it’s also prudent to have a thorough ongoing patient review process in place before and during care to avoid this type of risk.)
  • Once in the home, gain a true assessment of the patient and his/her living conditions. This may lead to a Master Social Worker (MSW) or therapy referral to meet certain types of needs that were not identified in a facility setting. Observe the yard, front porch and the condition of overall surroundings and in the home for safety hazards and concerns.
  • As soon as there is interaction with the patient, assess his or her speech, gait, demeanor, etc. Observe the cleanliness of the home and how it may impact the patient and his or her care. Remember, the patient’s safety as well as that of the home health care worker should remain top priorities.
  • Listen to the patient and address their needs, requests, and concerns. Their involvement in the visit, development of plan of care, and overall outcome will be determined by the visits.
  • Get patients and their families engaged so they collaborate with the treatment plan and have a positive experience with the home health care worker and organization.
  • Recognize and report new or worsening symptoms, ensure that medications are taken as directed, and that diet and activity recommendations are followed.
  • Be sure any aggressive behavior is documented and reported to the physician and home health care provider to quickly prevent escalation. Develop an at-home care plan that includes red flags, an emergency plan and self-management strategies to prevent exacerbations.
  • Survey patients on their experience with care during any type of episode to proactively identify issues.

Good home health care starts before the patient is ready to go home. Have strong practices and protocols in place help to foster a positive experience for patients while mitigating the various risks that come with home health care. Manchester Specialty specializes in insuring the home health care industry, and offers broad insurance solutions to help protect organizations against risk. For more information about our industry-specific insurance products, you or your local insurance agent can contact us today toll free at 1-855-972-9399.