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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

What is home care (or home health care)?

Home care (sometimes called home health care) includes a wide range of health care services that take place in a patient’s home. These services may be necessary if you are recovering from a hospital stay, if you are disabled or chronically ill, or if you need nursing care, social services, or assistance with activities of daily living on an ongoing basis.

The goal of home care is to help you recover from an illness or injury, regain or maintain independence, and manage your condition outside of a hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Home care services include:

  • Wound care for a surgical incision or bedsores
  • Intravenous therapy or nutrition therapy
  • Monitoring a serious illness
  • Providing education and support to family caregivers
  • Hospice care
  • Assistance bathing, dressing, and eating

What is hospice care?

Hospice is a specialized, team-based approach to support and care for individuals with life-limiting or advanced illness and their families. Instead of trying to cure a disease, hospice focuses on providing physical comfort and emotional support, so that life can be lived as fully as possible.

Its main goals are to ensure comfort, enhance quality of life, and preserve dignity and choice.

With hospice care, you can expect to:

  • Receive care focused on managing the symptoms of your disease
  • Receive emotional and spiritual support
  • Be treated with respect

What is private care?

Private care is home care that you pay for privately, out of your own pocket or with long-term care insurance.

For several reasons, many seniors and their families choose to pay for private home health care out-of-pocket. First, paying out-of-pocket gives you greater flexibility in the type and amount of services you order. In some cases, a patient’s Medicare coverage or other private insurance coverage may not pay for all of the home health care services you need or want. It may be that the benefits have been exhausted, or perhaps the patient’s medical needs do not qualify them for covered home care services. Second, you can avoid the restrictions and limits of programs provided by the government or private insurers. Finally, paying for home care may be a less costly alternative to a nursing home or assisted living placement.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning is one of the most important ways to ensure your wishes are respected and to protect your rights, if you are ever unable to make your own medical decisions. It is recommended that everyone over age 18 have a plan in the event of a sudden illness or injury.

The advance care planning process includes:

  • Thinking about your wishes and what person or people you would want to make healthcare decisions for you, if you are unable to make them yourself.
  • Having meaningful and focused talks with your family and doctors about your medical condition, treatment options, and goals.
  • Creating written documents, called advance directives, which state your healthcare wishes.
  • Reviewing your goals regularly, especially if your medical condition changes.

What is the difference between home care and private care?

A certified home health care agency, such as VNSNY, is certified to bill Medicare and/or Medicaid for professional and home health aide services.  Referrals for services must come directly from your physician. Services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance.

A private care agency, such as Partners in Care, provides home care services, such as personal care and companionship, private duty nursing, ambulatory escort services, and care management services.

A private care agency can provide you with many of the same services as a certified agency, but services are paid for out of pocket or by long-term care insurance. No referral is needed, so the client or their family members can determine what services are needed or desired. Payment is made by the person who needs the services, or a guarantor (someone who accepts legal responsibility to pay for the services received on behalf of the client), or through a long-term care insurance policy.

What is the difference between home care and hospice?

Home care and hospice care both require a doctor’s referral, and both are covered by Medicare (though the eligibility criteria are different). Hospice coverage is limited to patients who are terminally ill and covers treatment for pain, symptom management, and comfort (not for curing the underlying terminal illness). Hospice also provides important benefits not available to those receiving home care.

What services does VNSNY offer?

VNSNY offers home care services, hospice care, private care services through Partners in Care, and health plans through VNSNY CHOICE.

How do I know which services I need?

If your doctor has prescribed home care or hospice services, we will work with them to ensure you get the care you need.

If you think you may need care but haven’t spoken to a doctor yet, we’re still here to help. A Customer Care Center representative will ask questions about who needs care and what their symptoms are, and then make a recommendation for the next steps.

If you are paying for care out of pocket, our private care team is ready to partner with you to develop a care plan that will best meet you or your loved one’s needs.

How do I qualify?

Eligibility for home care services depends on many factors, such as on the type of care and who is responsible for payment. Medicare, for example, has different eligibility requirements for home care than for hospice care.

Please call our Customer Care Center at 1-800-675-0391 and we can help you figure it out.

How are services paid for?

Home care services may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or other forms of insurance (such as private insurance through an employer or long-term care policy). You may also choose to pay out-of-pocket for some services. Find out about all of your Payment Options.

How do I get started with services?

It’s easy to get started—just call us!

What’s the difference between a nurse and an aide?

A registered nurse (RN) is licensed by the State Education Department to assist in activities of daily living and perform skilled nursing care and usually is the graduate of a diploma nursing, community college or four-year bachelor’s degree program.

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is licensed by the State Education Department to assist in activities of daily living as well as some skilled nursing needs and usually has an associate degree from a community college.

A home health aide is trained and certified by a New York State Department of Health approved training program to assist in activities of daily living.

What should I consider when planning to care for someone at home?

Caring for a loved one at home can provide rich rewards, but depending on the type of care it can also be extremely challenging. As you plan for your loved one’s care, you may wish to read these articles to address the physical, emotional, and financial ramifications of caregiving:

What if I need different care later?

Your nurse or care manager will monitor your health and medical condition, and will work with your doctor to determine the services that will best meet your changing needs.

What if I want more care than my doctor has ordered?

If you would like more services than Medicare or private insurance will cover, you can supplement or extend them by paying out-of-pocket for private care services.

When you use Partners in Care for private care services, you can arrange to keep the same home health aide for both the Medicare portion of your services and for the private care. And when you use VNSNY and Partners in Care services together, your private care services are provided at a reduced rate.

Home Care FAQs

What services does VNSNY offer?

We offer a full range of home care services matched to your needs:

  • Skilled nursing care
  • Rehabilitation therapy, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language pathology, for post-surgery or injury, stroke, and children/developmental delays.
  • Behavioral health and dementia management for individuals with cognitive impairment, depression, bipolar and other disorders, and behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
  • Home Visiting Physicians, for Manhattan residents who are unable to leave home for doctors’ appointments

Why do I need home care?

If your doctor has ordered home care services, it’s so you can recover safely and heal properly at home. Home care services can help if you need:

  • Skilled nursing care, such as help to change dressings on a surgical site or wound to make sure it doesn’t become infected.
  • Rehabilitation therapy after shoulder or knee surgery, or after a stroke, to help you regain mobility.
  • Help with activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, and even cooking the foods you like and need to regain your strength.

Who provides care?

Because care is personalized to address the needs of each individual, no two cases are alike. Your care team will always include a registered nurse. Your doctor and your VNSNY nurse will work together to determine the services you need, and your nurse will manage all aspects of your care and will coordinate services from other VNSNY professionals:

  • Rehabilitation therapists (physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists)
  • Social workers
  • Registered dietitians
  • Home health aides

What does a nurse do?

A registered nurse is a highly skilled professional who oversees all aspects of the medical care you receive at home. During a home care visit, your nurse will:

  • Evaluate your medical and health needs and condition
  • Monitor vital signs and assess for risk factors
  • Administer medication (or ensure you are able to take the correct doses on schedule)
  • Change dressings for wounds and surgical incisions

Your nurse will also make arrangements for medical equipment or other supplies for home use, schedule appointments for other professionals on your home care team, and make sure that you and your caregivers have the information and confidence necessary to carry out the plan of care after your appointment is over.

When is rehab therapy beneficial?

When you’re recovering from a joint replacement surgery or living with a chronic disease, the best place to learn how to do all of your daily activities is where you feel most comfortable. That’s why the therapists from VNSNY Rehabilitation Services come to your home, where we help you gain strength, balance, and mobility.

Our highly trained physical, occupational, and speech therapists work with you to develop goals for treatment, and coordinate with other medical providers—like doctors and nurses—to deliver a plan of care that meets your individual needs.

What should I expect during my first visit?

During your first visit, your nurse will explain all the details of your plan of care, including which other VNSNY professionals (such as physical therapists, social workers, registered dietitians, and home health aides) are part of your home care team and how often you’ll see them.

If you received instructions about your care while you were in the hospital, your nurse will review them with you to make sure you understand and are comfortable performing them. (Be sure to have your discharge instructions and a list of medications ready to show the nurse.) Your nurse will also remind you of your follow-up doctor appointments, and will answer any questions you or your caregivers have and demonstrate any techniques necessary for your care. In addition, your nurse will order any supplies you need, from oxygen to sterile gloves, and teach you and your caregivers how to use any special equipment that’s part of your treatment.

Your nurse will also perform a thorough evaluation of your condition. They will:

  • Check your vital signs
  • Monitor any wound or incision sites
  • Administer any medications

Depending on your needs, your first visit may last up to three hours.

How many visits will there be? How often?

Because care is personalized to address the needs of each individual, no two cases are alike. Your doctor and your VNSNY nurse will work together to determine how many visits you need and how often they should be.

How do I qualify for VNSNY services?

Home care services from VNSNY are covered by insurance, such as Medicare, Medicaid, or sometimes by private insurance. So you need to meet the eligibility requirements that your insurance program specifies.

What home care services are covered by Medicare?

Medicare is an insurance program that may cover home health care services, including part-time skilled nursing care, part-time home health aides, rehabilitative therapy (including speech, physical, and occupational therapies), social services, and medical supplies. A doctor’s referral is necessary for Medicare coverage of home care services.

What does “homebound” mean?

Medicare (and some commercial and managed care insurance) requires that a patient must be homebound to receive home health care services.

A “homebound” patient is unable to leave home without considerable and taxing effort. You may still be considered homebound if you leave home for short durations or for specific situations (such as going to a religious service, receiving outpatient medical treatment, or going for a walk around the block).

Private Care FAQs

What is private care?

Private care is home care that extends beyond services covered by medical insurance, for supplemental short-term assistance or on-going long term care needs.

Partners in Care offers private care nursing, rehabilitation therapy, personal care and companionship services that can be paid for privately, as an out pocket expense, or with long-term care insurance, when care doesn’t qualify for reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid or other insurance.

Many seniors and their families choose to pay for home care privately for several reasons. Paying out of pocket:

  • Gives you greater flexibility in the type and amount of services you order. In some cases, a patient’s Medicare coverage or other private insurance coverage may not pay for all of the home health care services you need or want. It may be that the benefits have been exhausted, or perhaps the patient’s medical needs do not qualify them for covered home care services.
  • Allows you to avoid the restrictions and limits of programs provided by the government or private insurers.
  • May be a less costly alternative to nursing home or assisted living placement.

When is private care a good option?

There are many scenarios and situations when private care may be beneficial. You may want to consider it when:

  • You’re looking after an elderly or disabled loved one, whether they live close by or far away.
  • You need care quickly and don’t want to wait for Medicare or other insurance processing authorizations, which can delay the start of covered services.
  • You feel that you need a higher level or care or more hours of care than insurance covers. Private care can complement or extend care, often working closely with other agencies ensure a seamless transition.
  • You want or need services that typically are not covered by Medicare or other insurance, such as assistance with personal care, general mobility in the home, or companionship. Private care offers the reassurance of a trusted helper to live more comfortably and stay out of the hospital.
  • Your loved one requires live-in or 24-hour care in-home to remain safe at home as long as possible.
  • You’ve scheduled a procedure and need someone to meet you on discharge to escort you home safely.
  • You’d like to supplement covered hospice services so that you can focus on what’s important during your loved one’s final months.
  • You need additional assistance bringing home a newborn.
  • You or your loved one require specialized care or skilled nursing to administer treatments, such as infusion, feeding tubes, or ostomies.
  • Your loved one needs assistance with a chronic illness, and you’d like someone to monitor clinical progress and communicate with doctors and medical support team as needed.

Why use an agency for care?

When you’re sick, the last thing you want to do is check references, make sure a caregiver or clinician is qualified—and someone you’ll get along with—or verify insurance coverage. Engaging home care services from a certified or licensed home care agency relieves this burden. An agency should have the depth of staff to match you with someone who meets your needs and personality, and should ensure that staff is properly trained and certified or licensed, and has passed background checks.

At Partners in Care, all staff is insured, properly trained and credentialed, as well as carefully screened. We verify references and conduct comprehensive background checks, random drug testing, and run fingerprint checks through the FBI database.  Our professional nurses and rehabilitation therapists are highly capable and experienced in disease specific care. All Partners in Care home health aides receive three weeks of training, which is 40 hours more than required by the New York State Department of Health.

What’s the difference between a registered nurse and a home health aide?

A registered nurse (RN) is licensed by the State Education Department to perform skilled nursing care and usually is the graduate of a diploma nursing, community college, or four-year bachelor’s degree program.

A home health aide is certified by the New York State Department of Health based on an approved training program, so they are qualified to assist individuals with the activities of daily living.

What does a registered nurse do?

Partners in Care registered nurses are highly skilled, caring professionals, who have years of experience in both the hospital and home care setting. They also receive regular training to sharpen their skills.

Our skilled nurses can:

  • Carry out doctor’s orders and perform medical treatments, including infusion therapy or specialized care for wounds, drainage, catheter, colostomy, or ileostomy.
  • Give medications, including pre-measuring dosages to be taken on a specific schedule, intravenous therapies, and other treatments.
  • Administer immunizations, including flu shots and fertility injections.
  • Provide 24/7 nursing care and monitoring following surgery, either at home, in the hospital, or at a skilled nursing facility.
  • Perform assessments, such as home safety and nursing home eligibility (PRI/Screen).

What does a home health aide do?

Home health aides play a critical role in keeping you or your loved one safe at home. They provide companionship, and can watch for changes in health or medical condition that may require the attention of a nurse. Home health aides also help with the daily tasks that allow your loved one maintain independence and health.

Our home health aides can:

  • Provide medication reminders
  • Record vital signs, such as pulse and blood pressure
  • Accompany you to and from medical appointments and social events
  • Go food shopping and prepare meals
  • Provide personal care, such as assistance with bathing and dressing
  • Offer short-term personal assistance after injuries or procedures
  • Provide long-term care for those with chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease
  • And more, depending on your specific situation

What’s the difference between live-in and 24 hours of service?

Both live-in and round-the-clock care ensure your loved one is never alone, but there are important differences to consider:

  • A live-in home health aide stays in your loved one’s home overnight, needs to have a place to sleep, and needs to be able to get adequate to sleep in order to safely provide care to your loved one.
  •  If sleep time is not practical due to your loved one’s condition or due to space concerns, we would assign 24 hours of service, ensuring round-the-clock care from two different home health aides who each have a 12-hour shift.

Is there flexibility in scheduling?

Yes. We understand how flexibility is essential to our clients and we will accommodate scheduling to your specific needs.  There are also no contracts so you are billed only for the services you request.

We require a four-hour minimum in order to guarantee the best possible care and to maintain consistency and a close connection with the caregiver who is working with your loved one.

Can I have private care in addition to receiving home care services?

Yes. Partners in Care can act as a supplement to Medicare or Medicaid hours. This means that if you feel you aren’t receiving enough services through Medicare or Medicaid, or want more hours for additional support to accommodate caregivers’ schedules during the work week or weekends, you can pay privately through Partners in Care.

If my loved one is already receiving hospice care, can we add private care services?

Yes. While hospice offers comprehensive interdisciplinary care, you may still want to supplement covered services. Additional support can help to keep your loved one as comfortable as possible, and many families find that when a professional attends to their loved one’s medical needs, they are able to spend time focusing on what’s important in their loved one’s final months.

How do I arrange for services?

It’s easy: Simply call 1-888-735-8913 or send us an email asking that a representative call you back to get started (our service area encompasses the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau, and Westchester Counties).  We’ll ask targeted questions to find out more about your specific situation so we can help you determine the best services and level of care and make arrangements, often within 24 hours.  A registered nurse creates a customized plan of care based on your loved one’s individual needs and supervises and coordinates all services provided by your care team.

How far in advance do I need to call?

Getting you the help you need is very important to us. We handle all service requests on an as-needed basis, whether that is the same day or several weeks in advance. It is helpful if you can contact us at least 24 hours before service is needed.

Once your call is completed, a home health supervisor will be assigned to personally assist you with identifying the right staff member to meet your needs. The supervisor will then contact you to provide the name of the home health aide and answer any questions you may have.

Do you consider compatibility with my loved one when providing a home health aide?

At Partners in Care, your satisfaction is a top priority, so we do everything we can to ensure our home health aides are carefully matched to your loved one’s personality, interests, and lifestyle, as well as medical needs.  We ask a series of questions to help us better understand the type of aide who will be compatible with you or your loved one and search our extensive database to match you with the best possible aide based on your wants and needs.

We encourage you to think of the first day or two of service as a trial period, so you may evaluate how the aide performs the required tasks in the Plan of Care, and to make sure you feel the aide is a good fit for you and your loved one’s personalities. If you are not comfortable with the match we made, we are more than willing to provide you with a different aide. Your satisfaction with the care you receive is always our top priority.

Are Partners in Care home health aides insured?

All Partners in Care home health aides are insured and certified.

In addition, every Partners in Care home health aide candidate is screened thoroughly in the following areas:

  • Criminal background check. Background checks, including fingerprinting, are completed to screen for felonies, misdemeanors, violations, outstanding warrants and criminal time served. Partners in Care looks as far back into an individual’s history as possible.
  • Social Security check. This check includes all counties in which the candidate has lived or worked.
  • Personal references
  • Work references
  • Employee health check. Candidates undergo a drug screening, physical examination, and immunization update.
  • Proof of address
  • I – 9 verification
  • Certificate verification
  • Interview, skills assessment, and entry-level tests, including reading and writing

All candidates must pass the above criteria and complete our rigorous training program.

If I am receiving home care already, can I keep my same aide if I want additional services?

Yes. In order to do so, you need to be referred by your primary physician to our affiliate, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and we will work with VNSNY to keep the same home health aide with you to provide the services paid for by insurance and additional services requested by you and paid for on an out-of-pocket basis.

I may need home care help, but I’m not sure how much insurance will cover. Can you help me determine my coverage?

Absolutely. With your permission and authorization, we will call your insurance company to verify your policy and the amount of coverage for which you are eligible and call you back to let you know.

How much does private care cost?

Since everyone’s situation is unique, home care services will vary based on a number of factors. Please call us at 1-888-735-8913 so we discuss your options for care that’s personalized to address your needs and help you estimate costs.

How is private care paid for?

You may choose to obtain these services by paying out-of-pocket or with a long-term care policy.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. While credit card is the preferred method of payment, we accept checks, cash, and money orders as well.

Can I pay my bill online?

At this time, we do not offer online bill payment.

Hospice Care FAQs

What is hospice?

Hospice is a specialized, team-based approach to support and care for individuals with life-limiting or advanced illness and their families. When curative care is no longer an option, hospice focuses on providing physical comfort and emotional support, so that life can be lived as fully as possible.

The goals of hospice care are to ensure comfort, enhance quality of life, and preserve dignity and choice.

What services does hospice provide?

With your guidance and collaboration, your care team will work with your caregivers and personal doctor to develop a care plan tailored to your needs and goals.

Your services may include:

  • Medical care, including all medication, supplies, and equipment necessary to manage your symptoms and relieve physical discomfort
  • Guidance on what to expect as your condition changes
  • Counseling for emotional and spiritual support
  • Help with practical issues, such as advance care planning, medical decision-making, and preparing for the future.

VNSNY also offers support, education, and counseling to family and loved ones to help relieve stress and anxiety.

You’ll have 24/7 access to care and services. We’re here to support you however and whenever you need, including our dedicated caregiver helpline and referral center.

What’s the difference between hospice care and palliative care?

Both hospice and palliative care focus on treating symptoms (such as anxiety, nausea, pain, or difficulty sleeping) and enhancing your quality of life.

Palliative Care

Palliative care is appropriate at any stage of an illness and can be part of a care plan that includes treatment of a disease.

Hospice Care

Hospice care is appropriate when a physician feels that a patient’s life expectancy may be six months or less. When curative care is no longer an option, hospice focuses on providing physical comfort and emotional support so that life can be lived as fully as possible.

When should hospice be considered?

We recognize that it can be difficult to think about hospice. If you are coping with the pressures of a serious or potentially terminal illness, you don’t have to go through it alone. Starting a conversation about your care options as early as possible allows you and your loved ones more time to focus on what is important to you.

Hospice care may be appropriate when:

  • Your symptoms are becoming harder to manage
  • You are spending more time in the hospital, with less time between hospitalizations
  • Your main priority is comfort and relief from pain or other symptoms
  • Curative care is no longer an option or you decide you no longer wish to pursue curative treatments
  • You are diagnosed with a condition such as heart failure, COPD, end-stage renal disease, dementia, cancer, or stroke and your illness is life-limiting.

How do I know if it’s time to consider hospice care?

As an illness progresses, it can be difficult to make choices about care or know what to expect. VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care can help you explore your options. We respect your right to choose which services are best, as well as when and where you receive care.

Where is hospice care provided?

Care can be provided wherever you live. Many patients receive hospice care in their homes, whether that’s a private home or apartment, a nursing home, assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Hospice care may also be provided in a short-term inpatient setting.

My loved one lives in a nursing home. Can she still get VNSNY hospice care?

VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care partners with many long-term care facilities and nursing homes throughout the New York metropolitan area. We provide specialized services to complement the care provided by the facility’s staff, ensuring that individuals get the care they need right in the comfort of their residence.

Can I keep my doctor?

Yes! VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care welcomes the chance to work with your personal doctor with whom you already have a relationship. If your personal doctor doesn’t make home visits, our board-certified hospice physicians can make a home visit when needed, working in partnership with your doctor.

Who is eligible for hospice care?

Eligibility for hospice is established on a case-by-case basis. We can answer your questions and help you evaluate whether hospice might be an option, and work with your doctor as needed. Call our dedicated hospice team at any time of day or night at 1-212-609-1900.

How is hospice paid for?

Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans (including HMOs) cover the costs associated with hospice care or care related to end-stage illness. This includes all care professionals (such as a nurse, social worker, physician, and home health aides) as well as medications, supplies, and equipment necessary to manage care.

Insurance coverage of care begins as soon as you’re admitted, with no gaps or lapses in coverage as you transition from your current care.

Some patients also choose to pay privately (out of pocket) for additional hours of home health aide services.

How do I arrange for hospice care?

Getting started with care is easy. Simply call the VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care Referral Center at 1-212-609-1900, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to get connected with care. We respond to referrals for care immediately.

How does the admissions process work?

Anyone—patient, family member, caregiver, or doctor—can make the initial call. After that, VNSNY will:

  • Contact your doctor to confirm the need for hospice care.
  • Verify insurance coverage. (Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans fully cover hospice care.)
  • Work with you and your caregivers to organize and schedule care.

When you are admitted to hospice care:

  • Your hospice nurse will assess your needs and explain the options available so that you and your loved ones can make the best choices for your care.
  • The hospice team will work with you and your doctors to ensure you receive services to manage your disease and its symptoms.
  • The team will work with your family and caregivers to help them feel confident as they see to your needs and to understand your condition as it changes.

What should I expect when starting care?

Hospice care is provided by a team of professionals with special training to help patients and families. With hospice care, you can expect to:

  • Receive care focused on managing the symptoms of your disease
  • Receive emotional and spiritual support
  • Be treated with respect

Many families find that working with an experienced hospice team, such as VNSNY Hospice and Palliative Care, reduces anxiety.

What if my loved one gets better?

If your condition improves and you no longer need hospice, we will work with you and your family to transfer you to a more appropriate program. If necessary, you can resume hospice care at a later date.

Does VNSNY provide services to the family after the patient dies?

We offer bereavement support for up to thirteen months following the loss of a loved one. Our program is customized to address the unique needs of children, teens, and adults, including those who have lost parents, partners and spouses, or siblings.