Home-based care is the future of healthcare

Home » Home-based care is the future of healthcare

To better manage disease, reduce the risk of secondary infections, and improve the overall quality of our healthcare system, Clinician at medical scheme Profmed Justine Lacy believes home-based care is going to play a big role in the future of healthcare.

Wanting to have your care at home and being allowed to recover in your environment is a huge advantage. As a scheme, we have seen first-hand the benefits of home-based care and believe that, for many diseases and recoveries, the home is much more beneficial for all parties involved,” says Lacy.

Home-based care is defined as the provision of health services, by healthcare practitioners and formal and informal caregivers, in the home. Home-based care is to promote, restore and maintain a patient’s maximum level of comfort, function, and health, including care towards a dignified death. It can be classified into preventive, promotive, therapeutic, rehabilitative, long-term maintenance, and palliative care categories.

Profmed has embarked on what it calls an intense care support programme with a targeted cohort of older members in the hospital and seeing how the scheme can organise early discharge back into the home environment. Lacy says this has gone hand-in-hand with Profmed’s home-based ventilation programme in which the scheme provides ventilators to their home with a nurse to be cared for in their home environment.

Beyond this, she says the scheme’s other home-based care initiatives have provided members with a wealth of benefits, chief of which is the mitigation of infection.

“Home-based care immediately moves patients away from hospital infection, which is a huge concern for healthcare in South Africa. The longer someone stays in hospital the more at risk they are of contracting a secondary infection,” says Lacy.

A move towards a home-based care model is a move away from this cost sink. Lacy says home-based care also adds to faster recovery rates not to mention the mental health benefits of recovering in a home-based environment. Lacy says home-based care doesn’t only reduce admissions to hospitals, but it has also been found to reduce readmissions if done properly.

“We have certainly seen great support for home-based care across the healthcare industry. The pandemic has heightened the importance of home-based care and how it can really work with the right planning and implementation.”

She says home-based care is closely related to disease risk management at the end of the day, which is why schemes like Profmed are working on refining a process in which we can keep a regular eye on all those members getting care at home. The scheme has seen many members, over the years, get re-admitted to hospital due to pressure sores, pneumonia, and such, which Lacy says is a clear indication that they are not getting the right care at home.

Considering the continued proliferation of affordable medical technology, Lacy says the possibilities of home-based care are growing exponentially. This includes having bloods taken, getting infusions, wound care, ventilation, nursing care, and more. “There are benefits all round for home-based care. But it has to be safe for the member otherwise we wouldn’t do it.”

Lacy says that most schemes tend to have some form of home-based care available to members. She advises scheme members to speak to their medical aid to understand the extent to which home-based care is covered. “It is in medical scheme’s interests to offer home-based care as secondary to prevent hospital infections as hospitals pose a great cost to medical schemes, as well as the members.”

However, Lacey says schemes can only provide their members with the option to embark on a home-based care journey. The ultimate decision would lie with the member as to whether they will do it in a hospital or at home. “We can’t interfere with medical decisions. This is between them and their healthcare provider to decide what is the best way to go.”

Lacey says home-based care is a trusted solution for keeping loved ones safe, happy, and comfortable, especially as they grow older. “Although it is beneficial for everyone, we must keep in mind the quality of life that care in the home will provide the elderly. These are the patients in most need of a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment as they live out their golden years.”

As the practice becomes more accepted and accessible, Lacy believes home-based will be a significant portion of healthcare for people of all ages, keeping costs low, and allowing hospitals to focus on patients who really, truly need them.