Home health agency

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Standard and visiting nurses make up an important part of home health care services offered by home health agencies.

A home health agency (HHA) is a public agency, private organization, or a subdivision of such dedicated to providing health care services to people in their residence or in another non-institutional setting. Care may be provided by licensed healthcare professionals who provide medical care needs or by professional caregivers who provide daily care to help to ensure the activities of daily living (ADL's) are met.[1] Often, the term "home health care" is used to distinguish a home health agency's services from personal, non-medical, custodial, or private-duty care services, which are provided by persons who are not nurses, doctors, or other licensed medical personnel.[2]

HHAs in the United States

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) defines a home health agency as "a public agency or private organization, or a subdivision of such an agency or organization, which...":

  • "is primarily engaged in providing skilled nursing services and other therapeutic services";
  • "has policies established by a professional group associated with the agency or organization ... to govern the services";
  • "maintains clinical records on all patients";
  • "is licensed in accordance with State or local law or is approved by the State or local licensing agency as meeting the licensing standards"; and
  • "meets other conditions found by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to be necessary for health and safety."[3]

In 2010, over 10,800 Medicare-certified home health agencies operated throughout the United States, serving 3,446,057 beneficiaries over 122,578,603 visits.[4]


Several national accrediting bodies exist to accredit home health agencies in the United States.

  • Accreditation Commission for Home Care (ACHC) Home Health Accreditation[5]
  • Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP)[6]
  • The Joint Commission Accreditation for Home Health[7]

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice's Home Care University used to offer an accreditation program, but those operations are no longer running, with the association's hope to eventually continue the program.[8]


Services at home health agencies vary widely. Common categories of services include[1][9]:

  • taking and recording vital signs.
  • turning and positioning bed-bound patients.
  • performing range-of-motion therapy.
  • assisting in the self-administration of medication.
  • managing wound care and dressings.
  • managing cardiac care and rehabilitation.
  • conducting physical and occupational therapy.
  • conducting speech therapy.
  • providing medical social work.
  • performing hospice-mediated end-of-life care.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dieckmann, Janna L.; Harris, Marilyn (ed.) (2009). "Chapter 1: Home Health Care: An Historical Perspective and Overview". Handbook of Home Health Care Administration. Jones & Bartlett Learning. pp. 3–20. ISBN 9780763755829. http://books.google.com/books?id=nUamEbLyyVkC&pg=PA5&lpg=PA5. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  2. "Comparing senior care and home health care". Homecare.com. http://homecare.com/comparing-senior-care-and-home-health-care. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  3. "Medicare General Information, Eligibility, and Entitlement: Chapter 5 - Definitions" (PDF). CMS Online Manual System. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 6 March 2009. https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Guidance/Manuals/downloads/ge101c05.pdf. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  4. "Home Health Quality Initiative". Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 12 March 2014. http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/HomeHealthQualityInits/index.html. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  5. "ACHC - Home Health Accreditation". Accreditation Commission for Health Care. http://www.achc.org/programs/home-health. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  6. "CHAP - Home Health". Community Health Accreditation Program. http://www.chapinc.org/Accreditation/Accredited%20Service%20Lines/Home%20Health. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  7. "Joint Commission Accreditation for Home Health". The Joint Commission. 10 March 2014. http://www.jointcommission.org/accreditation/home_care.aspx. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  8. "HomeCare University". National Association for Home Care & Hospice. http://www.nahc.org/homecare-university/. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  9. "Services offered by Home Health Care Agencies". HomeHealthCareAgencies.com. 21 December 2010. http://www.homehealthcareagencies.com/blog/services-offered-home-health-care-agencies/. Retrieved 30 March 2014.