There is this sick close relative of yours. She has been ailing for years now having been hospitalized countless times and this has really depleted your resources as a family. You are advised by the Doctor to consider adopting home health care services for her because it may take more time to recuperate and continuous hospitalization may not add a significant value. You are requested to either engage a Nurse aid or a Nurse who will take care of her till she stabilizes.
Home health care is gradually taking center stage in Kenya although a lot of sensitization needs to be done in order for Kenyans to embrace this practice. It involves taking care of a patient at home. Qualified healthcare personnel are brought on board to ensure that quality health care is upheld at home.
This healthcare delivery arrangement gives forth so many benefits both to the patient and the relatives provided the patient has been assessed by the primary Doctor and has certified that the patient can respond positively to home healthcare services. These benefits include the following:
- The patient is able to receive more individualized care while at home. This improves the quality of life for this patient and subsequent hastening of recovery.
- The home environment heals the psychological aspect of the disease and this may influence a good prognosis.
- It is more affordable when compared to hospitalization. There are some conditions that may take up to six months to recover.
- The patient is protected from hospital commensals which end up cross infecting patients who are hospitalized for long. This may prolong recovery time for the patient.
- It gives the family an opportunity to get involved directly with the care of the patient. This gives a sense of belonging to both the patient and the relatives.
There is also what we call homecare. This involves relatives taking care of the patient at home without the assistance of the healthcare professionals. This is a practice that has been there although it is not recommended for patients who may need close physiological and psychological monitoring.
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PRINCIPLES OF HOME HEALTH CARE/HOMECARE.
- Adherence to all infection control practices to protect both the patient and the caregiver from pathogens. This may include the following:
- Hand washing before and after coming into contact with the patient.
- Opening all windows during daytime to enhance ventilation.
- Dusting the room on daily basis.
- Mopping the floor with a disinfectant on a daily basis.
- Use of gloves when handling soiled linen and patient’s secretions.
- Disinfecting all the soiled linen before washing.
- Disposing of all the contaminated waste properly. It’s recommended you burn it or liaise with a nearby healthcare facility for incineration.
- Vaccination of healthcare providers and relatives when dealing with infective conditions such as Hepatitis A.
N/B: Use of gloves when handling secretions and soiled linen is a must irrespective of who you are taking care of.
- Pressure Area Care: It’s very important to protect the integrity of the skin especially where the patient is immobile and there is decreased sensory function. Special care should be given to areas that are susceptible to skin breakdown. This includes Elbow, Scapula, ears and occiput. Pressure ulcers may lead to secondary infection. The following should be adhered to:
- Monitor the status of the skin four times a day.
- Always turn the patient four hourly if unable to do so.
- Always straighten the bed linen. Creases predispose the patient to pressure ulcers.
- Always monitor the patient for incontinence which may lead to skin breakdown.
- Ripple mattress may be purchased or leased from a medical facility.
- Exercise to enhance blood circulation and perfusion of tissues.
- Proper and timely administration of drugs.
- Proper Nutritional care.
- Spiritual care: Spiritual leaders including Pastors and Imam should be allowed to visit.
Home Health Care services can be very therapeutic especially if all the principles that have been highlighted above are adhered to. This will also create bed space for other patients who are in an acute state to be admitted.
You can consult Afya 254 in case you need to engage home health care services for your relatives.