One of the biggest obstacles facing health care providers today is ensuring that patients from lower socio-economic environments receive adequate health care. According to a report released by the National Academy of Medicine, “racial and ethnic minorities receive lower-quality health care than white people; even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable.” This can also be attributed to the fact that those within the minority community may have limited transportation, and less discretionary income as well. This is where home health care agencies provide the greatest value. Below are a few reasons why home health can be advantageous to minority communities:
Prevents unnecessary trips to hospital
As mentioned above, many older adults in inner-city communities have less adequate, reliable transportation. Many may be on fixed incomes and not have money readily available for an unnecessary visit. There are also limited hospital, clinics and pharmacies within these neighborhoods, so patients may have to travel greater distances for health care. With home health care, the patients have 24/7 access to health care professionals who can care for the patient in the comfort of their home. Patients have been shown to have faster recoveries, with fewer complications as well. This helps eliminate the need for patient readmission to the hospital.
Sometimes, physicians and health care workers who do not immerse themselves within a community, or lack cultural awareness or understanding, can provide inferior health care. This can lead to those within minority communities having an increase in comorbidities (such as hypertension, diabetes and strokes) and higher mortality rates. With personalized care, patients receive a specific plan that is targeted to improve and target their individual conditions. This one-on-one care ensures that patients are given the best opportunity to be treated and understand their conditions as well. One of the biggest disparities in the health care system, is the lack of patient education. This can also be due to implicit biases from healthcare providers. With the targeted approach of home health care, families are educated about the specific needs of their loved ones as well as being involved as a part of the health care team, which helps build trust and ensures that the best care possible is given. That trust is essential to bridge the divide between the providers’ bias and the improvement of patient health.
Relief for patient families/caregivers
Many families within these communities are tasked with taking care of their elderly loved ones. This can lead to financial strain, and emotional burnout. Trained home health workers can ease that burden by helping patients with their daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and preparing meals. They also can assist patients in medication management and helping maintain patient independence.