Home care providers deliver a wide variety of health care and supportive services, ranging from professional nursing and home care aide care to physical, occupational, respiratory, and speech therapies. Services for the treatment of medical conditions usually are prescribed by an individual's physician. Supportive services, however, do not require a physician's orders. An individual may receive a single type of care or a combination of services, depending on the complexity of his or her needs. Home care services can be provided by the following professionals or paraprofessionals.
- Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
RNs and LPNs provide skilled services that cannot be performed safely and effectively by non-professional personnel. Some of these services include injections and intravenous therapy, wound care, education on disease treatment and prevention, and patient assessments. RNs may also provide case management services. RNs have received two or more years of specialized education and are licensed to practice by the state. LPNs have one year of specialized training and are licensed to work under the supervision of registered nurses.
- Physical Therapists (PTs)
PTs work to restore the mobility and strength of patients who are limited or disabled by physical injuries through the use of exercise, massage, and other methods. PTs often alleviate pain and restore injured muscles with specialized equipment. They also teach patients and caregivers special techniques for walking and transfer.
- Social Workers
Social workers evaluate the social and emotional factors affecting ill and disabled individuals and provide counseling. They also help patients and their family members identify available community resources. Social workers ofen serve as case managers when patients' conditions are so complex that professionals need to assess medical and supportive needs and coordinate a variety of services.
- Speech Language Pathologists
Work to develop and restore the speech of individuals with communication disorders; usually these disorders are the result of traumas such as surgery or stroke. Speech therapists also help retrain patients in breathing, swallowing, and muscle control.
- Occupational Therapists (OTs)
OTs help individuals who have physical, developmental, social, or emotional problems that prevent them from performing the general activities of daily living (ADLs). OTs instruct patients on using specialized rehabilitiation techniques and equipment to improve their function in tasks such as eating, bathing, dressing, and basic household routines.
- CNAs/Home Health Aides
Assist patients with ADLs such as getting in and out of bed, walking, bathing, toileting, and dressing. Some aides have received special training and are qualified to provide more complex serices under the supervision of a nursing professional.
- Homemaker and Chore Workers
Perform light household duties such as laundry, meal preparation, generalhousekeeping, and shopping. Their services are directed at maintaining patient households rather than providing hands-on assistance with personal care.
Provide companionship and comfort to individuals who, for medical and/or safety reasons, may not be left at home alone. Some companions may assist clients with household tasks, but most are limited to providing sitter services.
- Personal Care
Personal care services may include things such as bathing, dressing, help to get in and out of bed, etc. These individuals usually have some training.