When Sarala a 60-year-old with dementia was discharged from the hospital, her family was worried about at-home care. Her daughter Meera decided to choose professional help and a few months later, she noticed her mother become a lot better. “Though she passed away a year later, she was well cared for. The nurse who came to take care of her made a considerable difference in the last few months of her life,” she says.
A few decades ago, pregnancies and other illnesses were treated by traditional medical practitioners at the comfort of our home. With the evolution and changes in the health care industry, people started moving towards a centralised model, where all treatments could be done under one roof — hospitals. But now, many people are going back to treatment and rehabilitation in their private spaces. This movement has got the Indian health care market to look at an industry of home health care (HHC). City Express explores more about home health care in the city.
With many new licensed players such as home care plus, Portea Medical, India Home Health Care and a few previously existing players such as Radiant and Apollo bringing medical services from physiotherapy to ICU, post-surgery care to other everyday healthcare services to our doorsteps, the needs of patients are taken care of in their comfort zones. “Our concept is hospital at home.
We provide visiting nurses and doctors who constantly monitor the patients’ progress and needs. We give targets and care plans to nurses and they work accordingly,” says Dr Hari, Apollo Home Health Care.
For example, if a patient has undergone a tracheostomy, a specialised nurse is sent to set the suctioning needs of the patient and there are attenders and regular doctor visits too. “We have pre and post pregnancy care for both mother and child, critical care nurses for people who have undergone surgeries, and even semi-ICU set ups at the patient’s home,” he adds.
HHC not only takes care of patients who are bedridden or terminally ill but provides a care including post-surgery, elder care, child care and care for people with Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. “We have been doing this since 2007 and have specialised in Dementia, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s. It’s not easy to take care of someone with these conditions and they need professional care,” says Dr Renuka David, MD, Radiant.
The advanced/specialised nurses who take care of patients with critical conditions have a nursing degree or a GNM diploma. “Taking care of patients with Alzheimer’s or Dementia and looking after post-operative patients is their forte. They also specialise in post-delivery care of mothers. These nurses are trained to handle patients with colostomy, tracheostomy, Ryle’s tube feed, PEG feed, and BIPAP,” explains Renuka.
Shakeela, a senior nurse at Radiant, shares her experience on treating patients with Dementia. “Every patient is different and we need at least a day or two to understand their state of mental health. We have to know them before beginning the treatment process. Sometimes they forget things in an hour or less and we will have to remind them about everything. It’s a challenge but our experience helps. From feeding them breakfast and medicines to giving a bath, we take care of their every need,” she shares.
These specialised nurses not only provide conventional health care, but also indulge the patient in stimulating games such as pallanguzhi, sudoku, jumble words and more to improve motor skills. “Some houses have a schedule made and given to the nurses and we follow that. It varies from person to person,” she adds.
While visiting nurses, home attenders, doctor visits and physiotherapists are part of the core services provided by these players, Uday Shankar, co-founder of Home Care Plus, shares, “Other services include lab test reports, online medical records, online pharmacy, storing medical records, helping patients with reminders for medicine intakes, ordering medicines based on their medicine intake, assisting them with proper medical checkups and giving them enough preventive methods to avoid falling ill.”
Though the pricing of these services differs with every centre, the minimum price of a service at a semi-premium and premium HHC, starts from `600 onwards depending on the service availed. “Everyone — nurses and doctors to the physiotherapists — are highly experienced and we pay them according to their expertise. The price range is solely for the quality we provide,” states Renuka.
As the future poses a transition from remedial care to a holistic view on preventive care, Hari adds, “Hospitals in future will become hubs only for surgeries and the rest of the treatment and services can be availed at home. This is the future we are heading towards.”