You probably know someone is homebound, but what does it really mean? How does being homebound impact patient care?
According to the Center for Disease Control, there are more than three and a half million homebound patients in the US today. Homebound status can be defined by someone who cannot leave their home or has great difficulty in doing so without support.
Although there are some downsides to being homebound, it can be a better alternative to being placed in a long-term care setting. In the past, patients and family members had fewer options.
Someone with a serious illness or injury, for instance, would have been in the hospital, or more likely, a nursing home. Studies have shown that familiar settings can provide a level of comfort and security that nursing homes or hospitals cannot.
Taking a person away from the routine, day-to-day interactions of old friends, family members or their community can be devastating to their morale and can lead to feelings of isolation and even depression.
Furthermore, emotional wellbeing is closely tied to how a patient responds to care and even how they tend to experience pain. Patients report less pain when they feel happier and tend to require more medication to reduce pain when they are feeling depressed, anxious or down.
Having a sense of independence may also increase emotional comfort, which in turn, may help them feel better and even heal faster. Positive emotions are known to boost the immune system. Home care allows for patients to live in a more comfortable setting and helps them to maintain more of their freedom.
Homecare can offer many benefits and can be much less expensive than other forms of care, but it can have its downsides too. For instance, the lack of interaction or monotony can create a sense of boredom or depression.
The Best of Both Worlds
It does not have to be that way though. Many patients can enjoy a relatively independent lifestyle while taking advantage of the support of caring medical professionals and other home-health representatives.
Some patients are still able to manage daily tasks, go to doctor visits, attend church or other social events with the appropriate support of family, friends, staff or their communities.
The Right Support
With the right support, an ability to connect with the outside world and caring people, the homebound experience can be a pleasant one. Being of homebound status does not have to mean being isolated, but it does mean that the patient must be treated on all levels.
They have needs that go beyond medical or routine care. They are human beings who just happen to be homebound. They, like everyone else, need to be treated with dignity, respect and while enjoying all the comforts of home.
References for Understanding Homebound Status: What Does it Mean to be Homebound?: