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My Experience Choosing a Home Health Care Agency
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Meena

               Managing parenteral nutrition (PN) in the home setting is definitely a challenge, especially for new patients. In my experience, it can be done best when more people (caring family members and self) are involved in learning and executing specific tasks. I needed family support since, due to my physical condition, I couldn’t have managed it by myself.

 

It’s crucial to have enough information about PN, home health agencies, insurance coverage, etc.—both in advance and at the time you are ready to move forward with home care—as there is so much to learn and execute.

 

               I found the most crucial part for me was having a very skilled, compassionate nurse who understood and could work with my needs based on my illness and the challenges presented by the central venous access device (in my case, a PICC line).

 

               It’s best to prepare yourself mentally for this process. Talk to your doctor and nurses in detail, ask questions for the safety of your access device, and always speak up for your rights when needed. Line safety is monumental. We (my family and I) all had to go through upheavals and much running around during the first year, then gradually, with time, it became a routine.

 

How I Found My Home Health Agency

               When the decision was made for me to go on home parenteral nutrition (HPN), it was a really tough decision for me to choose a home health agency for my care. Of course, I had to go with one that was covered by my insurance. But besides that, there were other factors to take into consideration. I wanted to find a home health agency that:

  • was personable
  • could give me the focus, and attention to detail that I needed with my care
  • had a skilled staff
  • was flexible and open minded

               We researched online. After reading good reviews from more than one person on websites we trusted, we chose my current home health agency. It was a tough choice as they are headquartered in a different state. My doctor had recommended a well-known, popular company that is local to me. However, I felt a smaller company would give me more opportunity to participate in my care. I did not want to go with a very big company with set rules where I might have to wait a week or more to get a response. It has been a few years now and I am happy with my decision.

 

               From my experience, here are some factors to consider when picking your home health agency:

1. Covered by insurance for regular monthly or weekly nurse visits, urgent on-call needs, or otherwise, so it isn’t necessary to rush to the emergency room all the time.

 

2. Will provide skilled infusion nursing care with 24/7 support, especially for weekend on-call emergency support.

 

3. Is open to supplying you with newer and better products for your line care.

 

4. Your doctor is comfortable working with them.

 

5. Preferably a company with a local office, as during inclement weather, storms/hurricanes, or other emergencies you can get your supplies without having to worry about transit time. For such situations, many agencies will liaison with other agencies local to you to send out supplies.

 

6. Should send your supplies on time. After some initial difficulties with a different agency in the first six months, my current agency always ships my HPN and supplies on an a.m. delivery every week, with extra supplies for long holiday weekends.

 

7. You should have access to your pharmacist and dietitian and be able to discuss your concerns via email and/or phone.

 

               After I picked my agency, their representative made a personal visit to the hospital where I was admitted after I got my PICC line placed. I had been provided details of the process in previous visits, including comprehensive information about all the supplies they could provide. As soon as I got home, my supplies were made available. An RN was assigned to me for home visits for the initial training, dressing and cap changes, and blood draws. 

 

               There were a few hiccups along the path, but I now have a good relationship with my agency. They try to understand my needs and are willing to consider any special requests if they can. Good luck with your search for the best home health agency to suit your needs.


LifelineLetter, September/October 2017

This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.

 

Updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. 

 

This website was updated in 2015 with a generous grant from Shire, Inc. This website is an educational resource. It is not intended to provide medical advice or recommend a course of treatment. You should discuss all issues, ideas, suggestions, etc. with your clinician prior to use. Clinicians in a relevant field have reviewed the medical information; however, the Oley Foundation does not guarantee the accuracy of the information presented, and is not liable if information is incorrect or incomplete. If you have questions please contact Oley staff.
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