Health Watch/Aspirus Keweenaw/Nancy Middleton, Client Staff Coordinator

What if you are managing quite well in your home (thank you!) and then you slip and fall (Dang!) causing a broken arm. Suddenly mundane tasks like shampooing your hair or taking out the garbage are monumental. What if you don’t have a Plan B?

What if you are nicely juggling work, family and home as well as monitoring your parents’ health and providing socialization for them – and to your delight your child makes the travel team. Now as you accompany your child and team to all the games, the regular visits to your parents are rushed and strained; worse, they are not taking their meds properly.

When the unexpected occurs and you need a Plan B, supportive home health care agencies are wonderful when you need assistance in the home. Supportive home health care workers, also called home care aides, can help with personal care such as bathing, grooming and dressing. They can do meal prep, light housekeeping, and laundry. Aides can also play a supportive role in monitoring health issues, for instance, by checking and recording blood sugars and blood pressure, and by prompting clients to take medication correctly. With additional training, aides can assist with ostomy care, catheterization care and other specialized needs.

Aides can provide companionship to those who are unable to get out independently. They can provide socialization by visiting with clients and taking them shopping, to appointments and community events. Aides can also fill in at home for caregivers who need to run errands or attend meetings, and they can provide respite for caregivers who just need a well-deserved break from caregiving responsibilities.

A home care nurse is a key part of supportive home health care services. When the client is admitted to the agency, the nurse will make a home visit to explain the agency’s policies, determine the level of care needed, and write the care plan so that the aides know what is expected of them when they enter the home. Once home care begins, the nurse supervises the aides. The nurse can serve as a resource in a variety of ways, including helping the client and caregivers follow instructions from medical providers, filling med minders and providing assistance with questions or home care needs that may arise.

Although supportive home care services aren’t covered typically by Medicaid/Medicare, some private insurance will pay for services. Don’t hesitate to ask your insurance carrier. There are also state and federal agencies that provide home care assistance based on financial need. The Community Resource Line can be accessed by land lines in the UP: dial 211 (this is not a typo; it’s a 3 digit phone number). For calls originating outside the U.P. or on cell phones dial: 1-800-338-1119.

Working with a supportive home care agency can make it possible to stay in your own home during the natural aging process or after a health crisis. Going with Plan B is not second best, it is a great choice!

Editor’s note:?Nancy Middleton is the Client Staff Coordinator at Aspirus Keweenaw Home Services.