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Private Duty Can Help Avoid Rehospitalization for Heart Failure Patients

By Stephen Tweed

What are the biggest opportunities you see out there for growing your private pay, non-medical home care business?  What referral sources bring you the highest numbers of referrals and the clients with the greatest need for home care services?

We’ve been writing and speaking recently about the opportunities for home care companies to develop specialty programs that focus on caring for clients with multiple chronic conditions.  One of the most frequent chronic conditions among the elderly is CHF – Congestive Heart Failure.

CHF occurs when the heart is unable to provide sufficient pump action to maintain blood flow to meet the needs of the patient. Heart failure can cause a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, leg swelling, and intolerance to exercise. The condition is diagnosed by a doctor conducting a physical examination and confirmed with an echo-cardiogram. In a chronic patient already in a stable condition, treatment commonly consists of lifestyle measures such as smoking cessation, light exercise, dietary changes, and medications.

Data from OCS Home Care in Seattle shows that about 20% of CHF patients in home health care are readmitted to the hospital in the first seven days of home health services after being discharged from a hospital.  Research conducted by Leading Home Care suggests that the two biggest factors contributing to re-hospitalization are medication compliance and physician follow up.

That suggests that you can grow your private pay home care company by partnering with your local home health agency to provide regular in-home care for their CHF patients at the same time they are providing home health nursing services.  Your home care aides can work closely with the home health nurse to make sure the patient takes their medication, eats properly, and help them get daily light exercise.

If your company provides transportation for your clients, you can also make sure they keep their doctor’s appointments.  If you provide Geriatric Care Management, your care manager can accompany the client to the doctor’s office, help to coordinate care following the doctor’s orders, and communicate with the client’s family.

Another way that you can collaborate with your local home health agency is to provide transportation to the doctor’s office so that the doctor can complete the face-to-face visit documentation.  Current Medicare regulations require that a doctor have a face-to-face visit within 90 days prior to beginning an episode of care or within 30 days after the start of care.

Develop a Specialty Program for CHF

One of the ways that you can set your company apart from your competitors is to develop disease specific specialty programs.  Home care companies have created specialty programs for heart failure, diabetes, orthopedic care, and movement disorders such as Parkinson’s, MS, or ALS.

By creating  a specialty program for CHF, you can work closely with home health agencies, hospices, internal medicine physicians, and cardiologists to provide specialized care for their patients.  You can also develop partnerships with hospital discharge planners who are responsible for cardiac care units. About 6.6% of all home health episodes are for patients with heart failure.  If a home health agency has 100 patients on service, that would suggest that six or seven of them would be CHF patients.

Train Your Caregivers to Create Competitive Advantage

In setting up a specialty program, you will need to hire caregivers with the ability to learn about the disease, and who can make decisions when they see symptoms that send up a red flag about the patient’s condition.  Then you need to train them to care for these clients.  There are six things you need to teach your caregivers in order to set up a specialty program.

1.  A general overview of the disease
2.  How the disease is diagnosed
3.  Common medications for the disease
4.  Red flag symptoms that must be reported immediately
5.  Complications of the disease
6.  Care and comfort measure that are important for the client with this disease

For more information on how you can set up a disease specific specialty program, and how you can train your caregivers, join us for this month’s live web conference at The Academy for Private Duty Home Care®Ginny Kenyon, CEO of Kenyon Home Care Consultants will join us to give you specific examples of what caregivers need to know, and how you can train them to provide this specialized care.

Log in on Thursday, October 10, 2013 at 4:00 pm eastern time for “What Caregivers Need to Know to provide Disease Specific Programs and Services” with Ginny Kenyon, sponsored by Caregiver Quality Assurance®. 

Premium Members of The Academy and members of Caregiver Quality Assurance® will receive the log in information for Free as part of your annual membership.  Non-members can purchase this live web conference on a pay-per-view basis at The Academy for Private Duty Home Care®. 

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