HOME HEALTH CARE 150 150 Dan Frith

As followers of this blog know, we report and discuss many preventable tragedies and deaths which occur at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. It has gotten almost to the point where these instances of abuse and neglect are reported weekly by some newspaper in the United States.

As a result of the poor care provided by nursing homes and assisted living facilities, a whole new business has sprung up…the Home Health Care business. There are 284 such businesses in Virginia and 12 located in the Roanoke Valley. Home Health Care companies provide two types of services that are custodial (skilled) or supportive (unskilled) care.

Non-Medical: Supportive services, provided by non-medical home care agencies, offer assistance with personal care such as bathing, grooming, dressing, in addition to help with meal preparation, housekeeping, and shopping. Assistance with self-administered medications, ambulation and exercises, and transportation to medical appointments.

Medical: Skilled services provided by medical home health agencies, offer nursing care, physical, occupational, speech, and respiratory therapy as well as social services and hospice care. Following a specific plan of care, and under the supervision of a skilled discipline such as a nurse or therapist, a certified home health aide may provide personal care for a limited time. These skilled services are provided on an intermittent basis, with scheduled home visits to homebound clients only, under a plan of treatment ordered by a physician.

If you choose to utilize the services of a Home Health Care business be careful and be smart. Request references and a list of clients with whom you can speak about the quality of services provided. Check the local Better Business Bureau for previous complaints.

You don’t want to end up like Mr. Nathan Ballard, a 51 year old man suffering from cerebral palsy who retained the services of Gentiva Certified Healthcare in Alabama to provide assistance with all major daily activities such as meal preparation, grooming, and bathing. It appears the nurse assigned to provide the “paid for” services failed to show up for 4 consecutive days. As a result, Mr. Ballard was confined to his bed without food or water for the entire 4 day period and, when discovered by a family member, was hospitalized for 2 weeks with dehydration and post-traumatic stress disorder.

My Take: Be a smart consumer of medical care….whether in the hospital…in a nursing home…or when contracting with a Home Health Care company.

About the author

Dan Frith

Dan Frith has over 25 years of experience representing individuals and families in cases of medical malpractice throughout Virginia. He has been named "Best Medical Malpractice Attorney" by Roanoker Magazine and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. To speak with Dan, contact him by email at dfrith@frithlawfirm.com.

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