Elderly woman walking and talking with her home health nurse.

Managing My COPD

“My home health team from Pathways was easy to talk to.  The nurse that managed my care was a great teacher and an even better listener. She taught me to be patient with myself and with her support I learned how to manage my COPD at home.”
– Martha, age 68; Home Health Patient

Home Health FAQs

Most of us have little first-hand knowledge of home health care and services. You may need more facts to make the best possible health care decisions. Here we’ll tell you about home healthcare, and answer some of the common questions that people ask.

What is Home Health?

Many health care treatments that were once offered only in a hospital, a doctor’s office or a nursing facility can now be done at home—things like IV therapy, wound care and stroke rehabilitation. Home Health professionals such as nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and personal care aides provide services.

What is the goal of Home Health?

The goal is to improve your health and for you to become independent in managing your health.

Who uses Home Health?

Examples are people who need treatment for wounds, who need IV therapy, who must have rehabilitation after a knee or hip is replaced, or someone whose chronic illness has not been completely stable.

How do I qualify?

Your doctor orders Home Health and must be willing to continue to manage your care. You must have a problem that requires the services of a registered nurse, speech pathologist or physical therapist (sometimes called a “skilled need”), and you must be homebound.

What does homebound mean?

Home Health is for people who are homebound, but this doesn’t mean you can’t leave home. It means that leaving home takes a great effort. It usually means that you need help from someone else and perhaps a wheelchair or walker to leave home. Patients may leave home for medical treatment, and occasionally for non-medical things (like attending religious services, attending a special event or getting a haircut) and still qualify for Home Health.

Who pays for home health?

Medicare, Medi-Cal and many insurance plans cover Home Health visits when ordered by your doctor. We will work with your insurance provider to check your coverage for Home Health.

Who decides whether I get Home Health?

Your doctor decides and is the one to give Pathways an order for Home Health. You must remain under the care of your doctor during the period you have Home Health.

Who provides the care?

Your doctor decides which kinds of care you need—possibly a nurse, a physical therapist, a speech pathologist, or a combination. Only if you have at least one of those three, your doctor may also order an occupational therapist, social worker or personal care aide, depending on your condition.

How can I get Home Health?

Often the doctor’s office will call Pathways. If you are a patient in the hospital, the hospital discharge planner may call. You may ask either the doctor or discharge planner about Home Health, or you can call us yourself; we will find out if your doctor would like to order Home Health for you.

What services does Home Health provide?

Pathways Home Health is very comprehensive and cares for people who need things such as wound care, physical rehabilitation after a stroke or surgery, intravenous (IV) medications, and help managing the symptoms of a life-threatening illness. Pathways also has programs for people with chronic diseases.

What are chronic diseases?

These are diseases that get worse slowly over many years. Examples of chronic diseases are emphysema (COPD), heart failure, dementia, diabetes and sometimes cancer. The goal of our chronic disease programs is to teach people to successfully manage their disease and to recognize warning signs. This can help avoid trips to the hospital.

What is palliative care?

Palliative means comfort. Palliative care, whether in the hospital or at home, is to relieve pain and other symptoms—no matter what the cause is. Pathways Home Health has a Palliative Care team for people with advanced or serious illness and need help managing their symptoms. Patients may be getting curative therapies including chemotherapy, radiation, dialysis or surgery.

What if I have a problem at night?

Pathways Home Health has nurses available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for consultation or home visits if needed.

Does anyone come to stay with me?

Home Health services are intermittent. Services are provided with short visits from healthcare professionals.  No one comes to stay. Patients who need full-time nursing care do not qualify for Home Health.

How often does someone visit?

The frequency of visits is based on the doctor’s order and the patient’s needs, and may vary from monthly to daily, but most commonly are one to two times a week. Visits are usually an hour or less.

Can home health help with bathing and dressing?

If the patient has a skilled need and a nurse, speech pathologist or physical therapist is visiting, then the doctor may also order a home health aide to assist with personal care such as bathing, dressing, and shaving.  Needing only personal care does not qualify for Home Health.

How long can I have home health?

Home Health is intended for short periods, such as a few weeks; it is not ongoing. Home Health is provided just long enough to stabilize your health and teach you about managing your condition independently.

What about equipment and supplies?

Supplies, like wound dressings, are paid for when they are ordered as part of your care. Equipment such as a wheelchair or walker is paid separately by Medicare. Medicare usually pays 80% of the amount they decide is appropriate. Pathways will arrange for an equipment company to bring items the doctor has ordered to your home.

Heart failure and COPD programs

A referral to either of these programs means nurses will provide intense training to patients and their families or caregivers on how to manage their condition. Education includes medication reviews, “red flags” to watch for, and the importance of follow-up visits. This can mean fewer trips to the hospital.

IV services

Pathways has a team of IV (intravenous) certified nurses to deliver complex IV solutions and medications to patients in the comfort of their own homes.


Physical, speech and occupational therapy are all available to patients at home. This kind of rehabilitation can mean shorter hospital stays and a safe transition from hospital to home.

Wound and ostomy care

Pathways has certified wound and ostomy nurse specialists that oversee care for those with conditions such as wounds that won’t heal, infections in surgical incisions, and new ostomies.