What are the quality ratings for home health?

Medicare.gov provides resources to review your home health options. Honestly, it provides resources to review doctors/clinicians, hospitals, skilled nursing rehabilitation services, inpatient rehabilitation, long term care facilities, dialysis, hospice, and medical equipment suppliers using the Care Compare feature. If you haven’t reviewed it, medicare.gov/care-compare/ is a necessary stop on your web surfing today!

The quality of patient care is rated along 5 items.

Managing daily activities: Are patients getting better at walking or moving around? At getting in and out of bed? At bathing? Were functional abilities assessed at admission and discharge and included in the care plan?

Treating symptoms: Is patients’ breathing improving? Frequency of pressure ulcers/injuries that are new or worsened?

Preventing harm: Are services started in a timely manner? Are patients getting better at taking their medications correctly? Are patients getting their flu shots for the current flu season? Are physician directions being implemented timely? Are patients experiencing one or more falls with injury?

Preventing unplanned hospital care: How often are patients admitted to the hospital? Needing urgent, unplanned care in the emergency room and not being admitted into the hospital? Remaining in community after discharge from home health services? Re-admitted to the hospital for a potentially preventable condition after discharge? Admitted to the hospital for a potentially preventable condition while receiving home health?

Payment & value of care: How much Medicare spends on episodes of care at this agency?

Elite is surveyed in the state of Washington every 3 years. Our goal is to strive for continuous improvement. It is why we review areas of challenge, establish teams to work collaboratively from different perspectives, and believe in the power of trial and error until we get it right. While no agency is perfect, we think we take feedback seriously to improve the services we provide every day.

How do I choose a Home Health Agency?

Home health is a program created and overseen by Medicare. Therefore, programs in general will look and feel very similar to be compliant with the laws that oversee how Home Health is provided. Depending on the state, agencies go through “surveys” at a regular interval (e.g., yearly, every 3 years, etc.) that review the operation, the clinical services, the documentation, the adherence to techniques, and patient satisfaction.

According to Medicare.gov, questions to ask yourself and review before selecting a home health agency include:

  1. Is the agency Medicare certified?
  2. Is the agency Medicaid certified?
  3. Does the agency offer the specific services I need?
  4. Will the agency be able to meet my special needs, like language or cultural preferences?
  5. Does the agency offer personal care services, such as bathing, dressing, and using the bathroom?
  6. Does the agency offer support services or help me arrange for additional services, such as meal delivery?
  7. Is the agency well-staffed to give the type and amount of care I need?
  8. Is the agency respected in my community, recommended by the hospital discharge planner, my doctor, or a social worker?
  9. Does the agency have staff available for emergencies at night or on the weekends?
  10. Is the agency transparent about what my insurance will cover, what must be paid out-of-pocket, and include me in discussions of resources?
  11. Have prior patients attested to the good care received by the agency?

Some additional questions that we have found helpful for patients and families include:

  1. How soon will my services start? Specifically, for each discipline?
    • Some agencies will start services with one discipline, e.g., nursing, and wait a few weeks before starting the next service, e.g., physical therapy. If your goal is physical therapy, then this timeline might be a reason to consider a different agency.
  2. How frequent will my services for each discipline be?
    • Some agencies plan for only 1 visit per week for the disciplines involved, e.g., 1 visit from the nurse, 1 visit from the physical therapist, 1 visit from the aide. If you have specific goals and needs, this cadence may not be right for you. If there is limited flexibility, this might be a reason to consider a different agency.
  3. Am I involved in my care plan? Does my opinion affect my services?
    • Some agencies have to submit care plans for review and approval. This may or may not take into consideration your needs, health plans, and environmental circumstances. If you are not comfortable with a third-party review, this might be a reason to consider a different agency.
  4. How much choice do I have in selecting an agency?
    • In states where patient choice is the law, you as the patient can freely choose an agency that serves your area. Your provider – doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant – may have a preference for whom they prefer to work with, but you ultimately have the choice of your provider for home health. In states where a certificate of need is issued, there may be a restriction on the number of providers. If you are displeased with your offerings, you can reach out to your state’s department of health for guidance on other options.

Elite Home Health & Hospice serves in both Washington and Idaho. We are the Certificate of Need holder for Asotin and Garfield counties. We also serve in Nez Perce, Latah, and Clearwater counties in Idaho where patients have choice. We are Medicare and Medicaid certified, as well as maintaining working agreements with multiple insurance companies.

We offer skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, aide, and social work services through our home health program. We utilize qualified interpreters or a language service to communicate with members of the community whose primary language is different from English.

Our aides, or certified nursing assistants, are part of your rehabilitation program, and can be scheduled to support learning strategies for dressing, grooming, and bathing in coordination with our occupational therapy services.

Elite is proud to employ residents of the Lewis-Clark Valley, Moscow, and Orofino communities. We believe in hiring within the communities we serve, and we have been doing so since 1984. Our staff supports services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If your insurance benefit does not cover services 100%, you will receive a call from our insurance team who will discuss with you the costs of your services before we send the nurse out to your home. You are a critical member of our healthcare team, and your financial health is important to us. Our customer reviews are publicly available, and we use positive and negative reviews to assess our quality of services and make changes.

Elite works with your schedule to get all of your ordered disciplines started within your first week of service. If you have a preference to delay a particular discipline, let us know, so we can accommodate that change. Our care plans are proposed and discussed with you at your evaluation session. That means, your voice helps determine how often you are seen and by whom. We do not send your care plan for review to a third-party to determine your frequency of visits from our team.

In Asotin and Garfield Counties, we are your provider. We are happy to serve and support your health goals.

In Idaho, you have a choice. We hope you will consider Elite for all of your home health and hospice needs. We are here to provide you with life-changing service.

What does it mean to age well?

When we think about aging, we may find there are conflicting views about the freedom of retirement and the challenges of one’s body becoming older. But, when it comes to the word itself, “aging” can mean lifestyle choices and living one’s best life. Sometimes, it is taking an intentional first step to plan out what aging will be for you.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, aging well involves intentionality and active participation in your health and lifestyle. Being aware of your physical needs and changes may involve having conversations with friends and families about your goals and plans for your health, your living abilities, and how you intend to change these areas over time. Aging well also involves plans for your financial health, supportive resources to continue living your best life, and having a plan for your needs as you change. Aging well also involves a plan for your mental and emotional health, supportive friendships and community outside of your immediate family, as well as engaging in activities that create meaning for your life. Finally, healthy aging involves a balanced diet and some form of physical activity to support your overall health goals.

Aging is more that numbers rising, another calendar year gone by, or physical change. Aging is something you can plan for and work with. At least, that’s what we believe!

Resources:

www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/aging-well

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-do-we-know-about-healthy-aging

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/a-neuroscientist-lays-out-the-keys-to-aging-well

October is Home Health & Hospice Month

Elite has the pleasure of serving both home health and hospice. Because we are a dual agency, we are able to support our patients along the continuum of their rehabilitation phases and in their end-of-life process. We believe that these relationships that we build with our patients and their families allows us to give care in a unique manner. Specifically, we are able to contextualize rehabilitation with the background of working through past rehabilitation stays and recoveries, facilitating family support or needing to hire additional aid, and building care plans based on your goals of care.

Elite does it differently. One of our key pieces of building your care plan is to discuss what your goals of care are. What procedures? What treatments? What family members? What friends? What resources? Our liaisons meet with current, prior, and potential patients to go through what your goals of care mean, and what needs to be done to make them a reality. We are intentional in these meetings to support you in making the choice for you in that moment. And, we are available to meet again if those goals change, and a different decision needs to be made.

Home health and hospice are about relationships.

This month we have the honor of celebrating the work our team does every day. Please join us in learning about home health and hospice services this month!

Healthy Aging Month

September is the month we look at how to support healthy aging. Healthy aging is a combination of physical and mental health as well as building community and resources for spiritual and emotional well-being. The aging process changes the mind and the body, and depending on lifestyle, community and social well-being may also evolve (dhs.gov).

Aging well involves learning new strategies and supporting the body’s changing abilities. Accident prevention is a critical element of this in order to best support healthy living and reduce emergency visits. Engaging the physical wellbeing often means learning new exercises and routines to safely engage in home life and access the community (cdc.gov).

Resources:

https://www.dhs.gov/employee-resources/news/2022/09/06/healthy-aging-month#:~:text=Healthy%20Aging%20Month%20is%20observed,our%20minds%20and%20bodies%20change.

https://www.cdc.gov/stillgoingstrong/index.html

Pain is a disease

September is Pain Awareness Month.

Understanding chronic pain is critical to how we support our patients on our service.

Join us in our learning:

Pain Awareness Month – International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) (iasp-pain.org)

September is Pain Awareness Month: Complexity and Progress in Pain Research | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (nih.gov)

Pain Awareness Month 2023 – U.S. Pain Foundation (uspainfoundation.org)

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease* (a disease with an unclear cause that is characterized by inflammation caused by dysfunction of the immune system) that causes inflammation in the body. There may be visible signs of inflammation such as raised plaques (plaques may look different for different skin types) and scales on the skin. 

This occurs because the overactive immune system speeds up skin cell growth. Normal skin cells completely grow and shed (fall off) in a month. With psoriasis, skin cells do this in only three or four days. Instead of shedding, the skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin. Some people report that psoriasis plaques itch, burn, and sting. Plaques and scales may appear on any part of the body, although they are commonly found on the elbows, knees, and scalp.

Inflammation caused by psoriasis can impact other organs and tissues in the body. People with psoriasis may also experience other health conditions. One in three people with psoriasis may also develop psoriatic arthritis. Signs of PsA include swelling, stiffness and pain in the joints and areas surrounding the joints. PsA often goes undiagnosed, particularly in its milder forms. However, it’s important to treat PsA early on to help avoid permanent joint damage.

Symptoms often start between ages 15 and 25, but can start at any age. Menwomen, and children of all skin colors can get psoriasis.

From https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/

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Aging as an adventure

Aging can have a negative connotation in our culture.

One of the goals we have at Elite is to promote healthy aging. We are intentional in our community work to preserve people’s wishes for independence, their voice in their healthcare plans, and building rehabilitation around their needs. Through home health, palliative care, and hospice, we value and respect aging. Our goal is to join you on your journey.

For information on the best aging strategies, check out:
Dishman, Eric. “Inventing wellness systems for aging in place.” Computer 37.5 (2004): 34-41.

Mitzner, Tracy L., et al. “Self-management of wellness and illness in an aging population.” Reviews of human factors and ergonomics 8.1 (2013): 277-333.

Coughlin, Joseph F., and James Pope. “Innovations in health, wellness, and aging-in-place.” IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine 27.4 (2008): 47-52.

If you are open to a new perspective, check out…