HI 00601.400 Services of a Home Health Aide
The primary function of a home health aide is the personal care of a patient under the supervision of a registered professional nurse and, if appropriate, a physical, speech, or occupational therapist. The assignment of a home health aide to a particular case must be made in accordance with a written plan of treatment established by a physician which indicates the patient's need for personal care services. The specific personal care services to be provided by the home health aide must be determined by a registered professional nurse and not by the home health aide.
Personal care duties which may be performed by a home health aide include assistance in the activities of daily living, e.g., helping the patient to bathe, to get in and out of bed, to care for his hair and teeth, to exercise, and to take medications specifically ordered by a physician which are ordinarily self-administered, and retraining the patient in necessary self-help skills. Covered home health aide services usually last 1-3 hours per visit and generally are provided 2 or 3 times a week.
While the primary need of the patient for home health aide services furnished in the course of a particular visit may be for personal care services furnished by the aide, the home health aide may also perform certain household services which are designated to the home health aide in order to prevent or postpone the patient's institutionalization.
These services may include keeping a safe environment in areas of the home used by the patient, e.g., changing the bed, light cleaning, rearrangements to assure that the beneficiary can safely reach necessary supplies of medication, laundering essential to the comfort and cleanliness of the patient, etc., seeing to it that the nutritional needs (which may include the purchase of food and assistance in the preparation of meals) of the patient are met, and washing utensils used in the course of the visit. If these household services are incidental and do not substantially increase the time spent by the home health aide, the cost of the entire visit would be reimbursable. Housekeeping services would materially increase the amount of time required to be spent by the home health aide to make the visit above the amount of time necessitatedby care for the patient are not reimbursable. Where another member of the household is an equally aged and feeble or ill person, e.g., an aged spouse or parent of the beneficiary, certain services performed by the home health aide may be advantageous to both members of the household but would nevertheless be reimbursable if the amount of time spent by the aide is not materially increased in order to serve the nonbeneficiary member.
The discussion of part-time or intermittent services in HI 00601.440 is applicable to home health aides.