Imagine this: George, an elderly man suffers from debilitating arthritis and heart disease. He needs the care of a hospital but is currently in his own bed at home.

Surrounding him are medicines, care products, his wife and at least once a day, his Doctor and a certified nurse. He also has access to “all the other services he needs, including clinical services, home health aides, social services, diagnostics and medications. (source)

A sweet voice from the other side of the room asks, “George, would you rather stay at the hospital or at home?”

“Home,” he replies, and since that sweet voice belongs to his wife, she is in agreement.

Hospital-at-home has been increasing in the US for a number of years but the practice is still limited. “Only a handful of the initiatives exist, including [an] Albuquerque program, run by Presbyterian Healthcare Services,” and Veterans Health Administration programs in Honolulu, Boise, New Orleans and Portland, Ore. (source)

Most research on the initiative makes a solid case for bringing the hospital home. In short, it frees beds in crowded hospitals, saves money by up to 32%, delivers more satisfactory care for patients and provides a safer environment to heal. Patients are less likely to be exposed to ancillary illnesses and dosing errors.

With all the positive effects of the program, why is it not more accepted? To begin, some physicians are reticent to be away from the hospital when treating their patients. In addition, patients most needing this care is seniors. Since many are on traditional Medicare or private insurance the treatments are not covered.

This type of care is not for everyone. Patients who are unstable or are in critical condition, for example, must be at the hospital. Scott Mader, clinical director of rehabilitation and long-term care at the Portland VA Medical Center says, “The patient, the family, the nurse, the doctor and the referring physician all need to feel it’s safe.”

With the economy weak and everyone in support of reducing health care costs, we might find it is a good way ahead. “It’s a model that teaches us to think differently, that shows us that there’s more than one way to care for sick people.” (source)

Family Private Care continues to monitor these developments while remaining focused on providing the highest quality senior in-home care referrals.