National Home Care Month

November is National Home Care Month, a time to recognize the importance of home and community-based care throughout Westchester, the South Bronx and Suffolk counties.

Dominican Sisters Family Health Service (DSFHS) joins health care providers across the state and nation this November to raise awareness about home care and honor the many home health professionals making a difference in the lives of persons in need. "Patients choose home care because it combines the comprehensive health services they need with the opportunity for living independently at home, which they most prefer," says Sr. Virginia Hanrahan, President/ CEO. "The core belief of every home care agency is that, when practical, it is in the patient’s best interest to receive care in the setting of his or her choice – most especially at home – where the patient is most comfortable and experiences the greatest possible sense of stability."

Home care is a patient-centered alternative to nursing home admission or extended care in the hospital. During this time of economic uncertainty, we remind policy makers of the importance of investing in home and community-based services to secure the safety net for vulnerable patients, while applying Medicaid and Medicare dollars wisely toward cost-effective home based health care alternatives.

Dominican Sisters Family Health Service is a community-based non-profit, certified, Visiting Nurse Service, providing preventive, acute, chronic and rehabilitative care to all persons in need in Westchester, the South Bronx and Suffolk counties. A Long Term Home Health Program and AIDS Home Care Program provide comprehensive, cost-effective services to patients, preventing premature institutionalization through multiple services determined by the physician, patient and primary care nurse. In addition, non-medical Outreach Programs positively impact residents in the communities served. Services foster a quality of life and promote human growth and independence. Special emphasis is given to the care of the poor, the marginalized and the elderly.

For the third year in a row, DSFHS was listed as one of the Top Tier Agencies in the United States on HomeCare Elite for 2008. Outcome Data Systems (OCS) evaluated 8,222 agencies this year to determine the top 25% that make up the HomeCare Elite. In 2008, 2057 agencies had the quality outcomes and positive financial results to qualify. DSFHS has been on this list all three years since its establishment.

Home Health Care Services are integral to the healthcare delivery system and care is provided across the life cycle. Services include: Skilled Nursing, Case Management, Home Health Aides, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Social Work, Pastoral Counseling, Nutritional Counseling, Mother, Infant and Child Care, Health Education and Supervision, Blood Pressure Screening and Follow-Up, Coordination of IV Therapy and Screening for Nursing Home Placement (PRI).

The Long Term Home Health Care Program is also known as the "Nursing Home Without Walls." It includes the following services to patients who are eligible for nursing home placement but can be cared for at home: Skilled Nursing, Case Management, Personal Care, Physical, Speech and Occupational Therapies, Psychiatric Services, Audiology, Durable Medical Equipment and Supplies. Waivered Services include: Medical Social Services, Respiratory Therapy, Respite Care, PERS (Personal Emergency Response System), Nutritional Counseling, Social Day Care with Transportation, Congregate Meals, and Home-Delivered Meals. The AIDS Home Care Program provides similar services with no cap on services or the number of persons served.

The Senior Community Care Program provides non-medical support and social work services to support the needs of frail elderly in Westchester – predominantly housekeeping and case management. A new Bed and Bath Program was recently instituted in a small catchment area.

For more information about services provided by DSFHS, please visit their website at www.dsfhs.org or call 914-941-1654.

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About the Author: Lianne Shaw