Occupational therapy professionals play an important role in skilled home health services across the country. Home health can feel intimidating to therapists and assistants starting out in this field but gaining knowledge and basic skills make entering the diverse, rewarding world of home health easier. Check out these five points from OT in Home Health Part 1 that are designed for the OT practitioner to start gaining confidence and knowledge about home healthcare.
1. Address Diagnoses and Conditions
During home health care evaluations and treatments it’s important to address both diagnoses and conditions. Patients admitted into home health will have at least one primary diagnosis which should be addressed in the OT plan of care. The most common diagnoses seen in home health include diabetes, heart failure, essential hypertension, chronic ulcer of the skin, osteoarthrosis and allied disorders and cardiac dysrhythmias.
OT’s must consider the primary diagnosis when evaluating and treating patients, but they also must consider patients’ conditions. Common conditions may be the home environment, accessibility, mood, familial and social support.
2. Take a Team Approach
OT’s and OTA’s are not alone when treating patients in home health and are encouraged to utilize other professionals’ skills within the team. Typical services offered in home health include skilled nursing, physical, occupational and speech therapy, medical social work, medical supplies, durable medical equipment and certified nursing assistants.
3. Know the Considerations for Homebound Patients
OT’s must consistently document on the homebound status of their patients. To be considered homebound a patient must need the help of another person or medical equipment to leave the home; or, the doctor believes that the patient’s health or illness could get worse if the patient leaves home, and it is difficult for the patient to leave the home and typically cannot do so.
4. Be Familiar with The Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS)
The OASIS is a comprehensive data collection set that captures a picture of the home health population and measures the success of services provided in home health settings. ADL and IADL performance levels should be reviewed by the OT with the clinician completing the OASIS in order to ensure accuracy across documentation in the record.
Become familiar with OASIS today with the MedBridge comprehensive 9 part series on OASIS documentation and measurement.
5. Include Caregivers in the Plan of Care
Caregivers are considered an important part of the therapeutic process for patients in home health. OT’s should consider the caregivers and their role in the treatment process. Perhaps the caregiver will be helping with dressing and bathing and can integrate strategies taught by the OT. Caregivers should be included in the plan of care and their role explained in the documentation.
Next Steps: Growing as a Practitioner
These tips will help OT professionals get started in the world of home healthcare. The next step in growing as a practitioner entering into home health is taking the courses titled OT in Home Health Part 1 and OT in Home Health Part 2. These courses are designed to walk OT professionals through home health rules and regulations, evaluation skills and treatment strategies as well as help OT’s and COTA’s identify their important roles in professional advocacy within the home health model.