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COVID-19 Survivors Improve with Home Health Care

Recent study shows COVID-19 survivors health improves with support of Home Health Care.

A recent Pennsylvania School of Nursing study has shown that survivors of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) significantly improve with the aid of home health care (HHC) workers. Data uncovered through the study indicates increasing home health care greatly improves the recovery time of patients who receive it.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, received data from more than 1,400 patients who were admitted to home health care after recovering from COVID-19 and being discharged from a hospital. The average age of the cohort was 67 years old, with common comorbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes. In most cases, the patients had an average of 6 functional deficits, mostly to do with activities of daily living (ADL).

One month following the discharge from HHC, a majority of the patients showed improvements in cognition, anxiety and dyspnea. It was also shown that with the assistance of home health care, such as physical therapy and skilled nursing, 94% of the patients achieved statistically significant improvements in both functional outcomes and symptom burden. The average functional deficit dropped from 6 to 1, showing a notable improvement in functional gains.

"Our findings suggest that acute care providers might carefully consider which COVID-19 survivors would benefit from home health care after hospitalization," Kathryn H. Bowles, PhD, RN, lead author on the study said. "A decision support tool to identify general hospitalized patients for home health care referral may be helpful."

The study recommends that to prepare for postacute care surges due to COVID-19, an expansion of HHC use should be made to provide skilled nursing and rehabilitative services in the home. This will help to prevent the transmission to other patients, which can occur in inpatient facilities.

“The positive outcomes profiled in this study suggest the value and importance of discharging vulnerable COVID-19 survivors to skilled HHC to support their recovery,” Bowles writes. “Increasing referrals to HHC has the potential to provide support and achieve improved recovery for perhaps many more patients.”