With a cultural drift towards nuclear families and working couple households, the demand for home-based care for the ailing seems to be growing rapidly.
Safety in the home healthcare setting deserves as much attention as prevention of harm, creation of a safe culture, use of standard practices, and resource allocation in the institutionalized setting. There is an increasing shift of medical care from hospital to home, the need of the hour is to examine patient safety in the home environment.
The convenience of receiving quality healthcare at home is virtually turning homes into hospitals.
Home healthcare seeks to provide quality care in a way that honors the autonomy of a patient, accommodating their individual preferences and that of their families. However, people may assume that patients will be safer at home, adverse events cannot be ruled out in any setting.
Medics may not be able to foresee all possible hazards, but there are certain aspects where the quality of care and safety become paramount.
There are several leading causes of unintentional home injuries most common being falls in the elderly. Another most studied safety issue at home is an adverse drug event, which may occur due to poor communication between hospital staff, patients and doctors.
Home healthcare has undergone several changes in the past decade or so and India has witnessed some transformational growth. However, in a nascent stage in India, the home healthcare market stood at about $3.20 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach $6.21 billion in 2020.
The reason behind growing of this unprecedented rise in the home healthcare segment being disposable incomes and the urge for quality services coupled with an acute dearth of qualified doctors and shortage of hospital beds. However, these figures seem incongruent with the growing patient and geriatric population in the country. Chances that we would be bedridden and in need of support in our later years is a reality. Apart from the 340 million elderly who will require home care, there will be millions needing critical care at home by the year 2050.
HEALTHCARE; BEST PRACTICES
Home healthcare can become the standard of care if best practices are adopted widely. This includes instilling confidence in family caregivers about access to support; ensuring that the training of the caregiver workforce is done in a manner that they begin to work holistically rather than just providing the specific services for which they are reimbursed. There would be minimum harm, coordinated care, and safety of practices.
Dr Naresh Purohit is Executive Member, Federation of Hospital Administrator. He is also advisor to the National Communicable Disease Control Programme. Dr. Purohit is also Advisor to six other National Health Programmes. He is visiting Professor in five Medical Universities of Southern India including Thrissur based Kerala University of Health Sciences ((The views and opinion expressed in this article are those of the author)