Home Health Care in Washington

When seeking home health care in Washington for your loved one, it is important that you match the type of care to your loved one’s needs. Home health is a specific type of care that provides in-home skilled nursing and therapeutic care.

Overview of Home Health

Agencies that provide home health care in Washington offer a wide range of services that include:

  • Nursing
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Nutritional assessment and management
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Social work
  • Home health aides

Home health care in Washington must be prescribed by a physician. The nursing care is provided by registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). Other licensed professionals provide various types of therapy or consultation.

Additional home health care may be provided by unlicensed home health aides, who perform a number of non-skilled care tasks such as taking a patient’s temperature, pulse rate, respiration rate or blood pressure. They may also assist patients with eating, dressing, bathing and skin care.

Future Certification of Home Health Aides

In November of 2008, Washington state voters passed Initiative-1029 which affects the training of aids of home health care in Washington. Starting January 1, 2011, certain long term care workers caring for the elderly and people with disabilities must be certified as a home care aide. All home care aides will be required to be certified by the Washington State Department of Health within 150 days of being hired.

Applicants must pass a state and federal background check. This includes being checked against the national sex offender registry. They must complete 75 hours of training and pass a state examination in order to qualify for certification.

Washington Home Health Licensing Requirements

All agencies that provide home health care in Washington are required to be licensed by the state in order to qualify for federal certification and Medicare reimbursement. Each licensed home health agency must provide a level of care that meets the health and safety standards established by the Washington Department of Health. These standards are routinely enforced by periodic, unannounced surveys of these agencies.

Each licensed facility must employ a director of clinical services that coordinates and develops written patient care policies and procedures and supervises all patient care. Federally certified home health agencies in Washington are required to conduct comprehensive assessments of all patients.

Plan of Care for Patients

In addition, all licensed agencies that provide home health care in Washington must develop and implement a written home health plan of care for each patient. This plan is developed with input from the patient, family members and the health care professional in charge of care. The plan of care includes:

  • Goals for treatment
  • Type and frequency of services to be provided
  • Medications to be taken and known allergies
  • Home medical equipment and supplies needed
  • Special nutritional needs and food allergies
  • The patient’s physical, cognitive and functional limitations
  • Discharge and referral plan

Visit in home care page to view providers of home care in Washington.

Written by senior housing writer Gary Gilles

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