What is Home Health?
Home health is a sector of healthcare that services patients who are unable to leave their home safely unassisted, require a taxing effort to leave the home, or are reliant upon an assistive device. Home health often comes after a hospitalization event or discharge from a Skilled Nursing Facility, but may also come after a referral from a patient’s primary care physician. The goal is to safely discharge patients to their own care, the care of a caregiver, or to an outpatient therapy clinic to continue with treatment.
What Does a Home Health ST do?
A Home Health Speech Language Pathologist (ST) will see patients who have memory, swallowing, or speech deficits preventing them from living a safe and comfortable life. Often patients referred for ST have suffered traumatic brain injuries (encephalopathy, stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage) or are struggling with advanced disease resulting in loss of motor control (ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s). A Home Health ST will go to the patient’s home and provide a care plan that addresses dysphagia, dysarthria, apraxia, and aphasia.
If dysphagia is identified, simple meal adjustments are made, using thickeners and/or diet modifications to prevent choking and aspiration. If the cause of dysphagia has not yet been identified, the home health speech therapist may order a Modified Barium Swallow test to be performed at a clinic. To assist with memory and language processing, exercises and compensatory strategies are provided in accordance with a patient’s disease and ability. In some more progressive cases, speech therapists may order and train patients on speech technologies.
Visits typically last between 45 minutes and an hour, depending upon the care provided that day. A patient may only need one visit to provide resources, or may need several more. It is most common to see Home Health ST cases 1-2 times per week and for a duration of 1-5 weeks. This low frequency, relatively short duration, and the minimal time commitment means that Home Health ST visits are perfect for clinicians looking to work around school or clinic schedules, have more time with family, or work on other projects.
What is Lifespan?
Now that you know more about the environment and patients, you may be wondering how Lifespan can help you begin your Home Health journey. As a Home Health Network, Lifespan establishes contracts with many Home Health Agencies, large and small. When an agency cannot reasonably hire a full-time ST, has needs their STs cannot meet (language, gender, location, or skillset) then they come to us. At the same time, Lifespan works with clinicians such as yourself to enter your desired location, skillset, and language abilities into a database. When a case comes up that matches your profile, we offer this case to you.
How to Get Started
If this sounds like what you’ve been looking for, then we would like to invite you to complete the sign up form linked below. Upon submission, you will be sent a Docusign onboarding packet to begin working on at your leisure. You may also begin sending in the required credentials listed below, obtaining the necessary equipment, reviewing the training, and coordinating with the team on any questions. Some clinicians finish this process in days, some in months. Work at your own pace and whenever you’re ready to see patients, we’ll be here.
In accordance with state healthcare operating guidelines, you will need to furnish some common credentials prior to seeing patients.
-Your active license with clinical hours and fellowship completed
-An active CPR or BLS certification
-A current (within 1 year) TB test and questionnaire
-A current (within 1 year) physical
-A driver’s license (this is home health afterall)
-Professional Liability Insurance (HPSO.com is a common solution)
As an independent contractor you will need to have the below supplies prior to seeing patients.
-A blood pressure cuff (manual or automatic)
-A pulse oximetry monitor
-A therapy bag
-Infection control supplies such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, soap, papertowels, and protective barriers (wax paper, puppy pads)