DHEC recognizes National Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care Month

Join DHEC in observing Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care Month. This month-long celebration provides an opportunity to show appreciation for the thousands of SC nurses, home care aides, therapists and social workers who have dedicated their lives to improving the health of the patients and families they serve.

To honor this observance, we spoke with Courtney Hodges, Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Events for the South Carolina Home Care & Hospice Association (SCHCHA). DHEC has worked with SCHCHA throughout the years and is proud to call the association a community partner.

Q: Why are home health agencies and hospice providers so important for our most vulnerable citizens?

Hodges: These providers have always been important to vulnerable citizens in our communities. But now that importance is underscored by the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in public/facility settings. We believe the desire to remain and receive health care at home is stronger than it has ever been. When a patient is discharged from a facility setting into the community, if they continue care at home, the likelihood of the patient being readmitted within 30 days or incurring further injury or illness decreases significantly. Technology is advancing rapidly in the home, and in the not so distant future, more acute and chronic conditions will be treatable at home.

Q: What have been the challenges of COVID-19 and how has it affected home, hospice, and palliative care in the state?

A: Some challenges faced are very similar to those faced by other healthcare settings: a growing concern of lack of PPE and infection prevention, and control for staff members and patients. Other challenges have been unique to the home setting, such as the apprehension of allowing a care provider in the home, staff being unable to enter facilities to care for hospice patients due to mandated restrictions, and a decline in referrals due to elective surgeries and other non-emergent procedures being delayed. Opportunities from this pandemic include ramping up infection control procedures that were already in place, and the use of telehealth and telemedicine. The home care and hospice industry has been advocating for the use of telehealth in the home for decades. Thanks to COVID-19, we were plunged into a virtual world and forced to reckon with the benefits, risks, accessibility, and costs of telehealth. It’s the push into technology that we needed, but there’s still much work to be done.

About SCHCA

The SCHCHA is a nonprofit trade association representing providers of home health, hospice, palliative care, and personal care services. The Association was established in 1979 and currently has a membership of over 300 provider agencies and vendors, who provide products and services to providers. SCHCHA’s mission is to provide Resources, Education, Advocacy and Leadership. Services include: technical assistance, monthly newsletters, quality educational programs, annual directory, email alerts, and political lobbying.

To learn more please visit our website, www.schcha.org.  

This November, please commemorate the staff and families that make Home Care, Hospice, and Palliative Care possible.

“As the regulating agency for South Carolina’s home health agencies, in-home care providers and hospice facilities, we understand how important it is to regulate and support these providers to ensure that patients are receiving the best care possible per regulatory requirements. We also want the providers to know that we’re not just here to enforce regulations, but also to provide guidance and insight to ensure they’re operating in the best interest of the patient,” said Keisha Wright, Interim Director of Outpatient Services in DHEC’s Healthcare Quality.

Do you know the difference between Home Health, In-Home Care, Palliative Care and Hospice Care?

Home Health – is medical care that may be used to improve health after an illness or injury, to regain independence and self-sufficiency

In-Home Care – is non-medical care that includes assistance with basic life skills such as bathing, medication management, preparing meals or transportation.

Palliative Care – is used when patients are faced with a chronic or life-limiting diagnosis. It focuses on relieving symptoms, pain, and stress.

Hospice – is used when patients have a limited life expectancy or terminal illness and are no longer receiving curative treatments.

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