We have several friends who at some point in their lives have become at-home caregivers for a parent, spouse, or other loved one. NPR has just broadcast a story on the dilemmas such caregivers face. One item of good news — thirty-three states now have legislation requiring hospitals to give caregivers training and instructions before a loved one is sent home from the hospital.
Hospitals have an incentive to do this anyway because of the Hospital Readmission Reduction Program created by the Affordable Care Act. They can be dinged by Medicare if too many patients have to be re-admitted after being sent home. Whether this program survives the Republican drive to repeal the Affordable Care Act remains to be seen.
Another bit of good news is that under Medicare, physicians can prescribe skilled nursing care at home. The visiting nurses provide care and treatment, as well as additional training for the home caregiver. This brochure lays out the terms and conditions Medicare’s home health care program. (Like Obamacare, Medicare may soon be on the chopping block.)
The NPR story made me recall some of the thinking that went into our decision to downsize and move to a more urban area. In our new home in Reston, Virginia, we’ll have access to several agencies providing home health care, should that become necessary one day. By downsizing to a single home, rather than the Finger Lakes house and the Reston condo we used to have, we’ll also be in a better position to afford an assisted living facility should we we come to the point at which home health care is no longer possible. There are several such facilities in and around Reston, and more are on the way.