November is National Home Care Month – Help Us Celebrate!

Join the Home Care Alliance in celebrating National Home Care Month throughout November by visiting our new webpage

On that site, the Alliance has posted materials to help home care agencies and advocates celebrate and raise awareness. There are templates for a press release, op-ed’s, and letters to the editor that can be sent to local media as well as downloadable posters that can be posted in your office and community.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter where the Alliance will be posting a “Home Care Fact of the Day” each day in November, along with other important news and updates. We have 142 “Likes” and are aiming to get to 150 and beyond!

HCA has plenty of educational and training events in November so please be sure to check our busy calendar of events this month.

Finally, our radio campaign in partnership with WGBH is still ongoing so stay tuned to 89.7 FM or Classical New England (99.5 FM) to hear great sponsorships from HCA members.

For more info on how to celebrate and raise awareness, or if you would like assistance with the press materials, please contact James Fuccione at the Alliance.

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Skilled Teaching for Dementia Patients

NHIC, Corp. has just released a medical policy article that addresses a specific category of skilled nursing care currently available to Medicare home health beneficiaries who have dementia with behavioral disturbances; A51856 Home Health Skilled Nursing Care: Teaching and Training for Dementia Patients with Behavioral Disturbances.  The category of skilled nursing is called “teaching and training activities”, defined in the CMS Manual System. The Medicare beneficiaries with dementia and behavioral disturbances could receive a patient-centered care plan directed at teaching the family or caregiver how to manage the behavioral disturbances.

Refer to Article A51856 for sample case scenarios and details on documentation, coding guidelines, and potential interventions

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How does Massachusetts Compare to National Results from HHCAHPS?

Results from the CMS national survey, Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) Survey, that asks patients about their experiences with Medicare-certified home health agencies, are now available on Quality Care Finder website.

Massachusetts scored better or the same compared to national results for 4 out of 5 survey items. “Percent of patients who reported that their home health team gave care in a professional way” was the survey result where Massachusetts scored 1% less than the national level. See how specific agencies in your local area compare to the state and national results.

HHCAHPS will be updated every four months with new survey data and will complement the clinical measures available on the “Home Health Compare” website. This survey collects feedback on topics that patients have identified as important to them in determining which home health agencies provide high-quality care. Ratings include an overall rating of home health care and a patient’s willingness to recommend the agency to someone else.

For more information on the survey, visit

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State Plan for Alzheimer’s Announced at Advocacy Event

The Home Care Alliance and member agencies supported the Alzheimer’s Association’s Advocacy Day on Tuesday at the Grand Staircase of the State House where Secretary of Elder Affairs Ann Hartstein announced the release of the “Massachusetts Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders State Plan.”

HCA Executive Director Pat Kelleher was a steering committee member and chaired a work group that focused on “access to services,” which was instrumental in forming recommendations in the plan. The state will use the recommendations as a guide for taking steps to improve care and access to Alzheimer’s care.

Other speakers at Alzheimer’s Advocacy Day included State Senator Patricia Jehlen, State Representative Alice Wolf, and Dr. Allen Krieger from MIT who has early stage Alzheimer’s. A video of Dr. Krieger’s speech about dealing with the condition is posted on HCA’s YouTube page.

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Celebrate and Raise Awareness: November is National Home Care and Hospice Month

Every year, the home care and hospice community celebrates and raises awareness of the services that help keep people independent and at home for National Home Care & Hospice Month and National Family Caregivers Month in November.

With the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction debating proposals to reduce the nation’s debt by trillions of dollars, the advocacy focus for this year must focus on opposing suggestions to impose copayments on Medicare home health services. A message also has to be sent that home care paid it’s fair share, $39.7 billion over ten years to be exact, for implementing the Affordable Care Act as well as how the industry has been thrown years of regulatory reductions.

Home care and hospice are cost-effective methods that care for people in the setting where they are most comfortable and familiar. Please help the Home Care Alliance raise awareness of these important issues and services, but also celebrate the great work performed by aides, clinicians, managers and all staff that make those services possible.

Here are some ways to celebrate and raise awareness for National Home Care & Hospice Month:

For Providers –

Press Release: Tailor this press release on National Home Care and Hospice Month to include information about your agency and the services you provide. Then, distribute to your local newspaper and/or local senior newsletter (Please contact the Alliance if you would like assistance or have any questions). There is also a separate press release template for hospices.

Op-Ed/Letter to the Editor: Select from the Opinion-Editorial drafts below depending on your interest (HCA would be happy to work with agencies on more specific or localized op-eds or letters to the editor).

For Everyone –

Facebook: Go to the Home Care Alliance’s Facebook page and click “like” on the most recent status regarding Home Care Month.

Twitter: add the hash-tag #homecaremonth to your tweets this month and especially if you’re helping celebrate and raise awareness.

Posters: Download and print the posters below. Post in your home or office, or send to friends and colleagues.

Advocacy: Send an email advocacy message to legislators from HCA’s Legislative Action Center.

Resources for Caregivers:

-Order the Home Care Alliance’s new 2012 Guide to Private Home Care Services and see HCA’s other helpful publications.

Alzheimer’s Disease caregiver tip sheet from the National Family Caregivers Association.

Guide to Advance Care Planning from the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.

-Information on the Home Care Alliance’s Home Care Accreditation Program.

-Read President Obama’s Proclamation to honor National Family Caregiver’s Month.

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Reports: CLASS Act Program is Being Removed from Health Care Reform

News outlets across the country are reporting on the elimination of the CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services and Supports), which would have provided a modest long-term care insurance benefit to help elders access community care services and remain in their homes.

This provision would have been a boost to home health, but research and reports by Health and Human Services found that there was no way to ensure that the program would be sustainable and the official announcement to repeal the program came late Friday afternoon.

The move itself, aside from political posturing, does not change the fact that there is “an enormous need” for long term care insurance as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it. The New York Times quoted Secretary Sebelius as adding “At $75,000 a year for a nursing home and $18,000 a year for home health care, most families cannot afford to pay out of pocket.”

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“At $75,000 a year for a nursing home and $18,000 a year for home health care, most families cannot afford to pay out of pocket,” she said.

Home Care Alliance Promoting DEA Drug Take-Back Program

Unused Drug DisposalThe Home Care Alliance and participating member agencies are encouraging home health patients and their families to participate in the federal Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 29, 2011, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Across the state and the nation, collection stations will be available at police stations, fire stations, senior centers and other facilities so that people can turn in unused and unwanted medications so that they can be disposed of safely. This year’s event marks the third annual Prescription Drug Take Back Day, where the first two programs combined to collect 309 tons of prescription drugs that were turned in, according to the DEA.

The Alliance has a press release template for member home health agencies interested in participating in this program and can contact James Fuccione at HCA for details.

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How Home Care Can Help Family Caregivers

In a moving piece at The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch describes the enormous strain — both physical and psychological — he of being a family care giver:

In the early weeks, I was protective of his independence. He believed that confinement in a nursing home would kill him, and I understood that his autonomy was the thread by which his emotional health hung. But his motor control was not cooperating. By summer, he was having trouble getting out of bed. Many days, he relied on the maintenance man to dress him, or never managed to dress properly at all. On several occasions, I arrived in his apartment to find him lying on the floor, unable to get up. He was no longer able to manage his own mail or appointments. Often his slurred voice on the phone was barely intelligible. When I called, he would manage to pick up the phone but said only “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” before hanging up. Continue reading “How Home Care Can Help Family Caregivers”

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