Frequently Asked Questions
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You have a choice.You have the right to select the home health professionals you prefer to care for you. If you fall within the guidelines outlined here, you may ask to use our VNA (Visiting Nurses Association) services even if we are not initially presented as an option to you.
VNA and Hospice of Greater Milford has grown in size and expertise through our 90-plus year history, providing quality care to thousands of area residents. While a great deal has changed over those years, we remain focused on providing unparalleled health care services in the home, assisting patients on their road to regained health and independence. In fact, we have been recognized by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for improving care outcomes.
You won’t find a more caring and qualified staff of nurses, social workers, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and home care aides anywhere. Everyone on our staff is licensed or certified in their profession and thoroughly screened before they are approved to conduct home visits.
There are many home health care agencies, but few can offer our hallmark level of dedication and quality service. The history of this VNA, along with its new ownership by SALMON Health and Retirement, a family owned and operated company in Central Massachusetts since 1952, make us people on whom you can rely with confidence.
Who may use our VNA services?There are four factors that determine the ability to access care from us.
- The patient must live in our service area (see our current town listing), which will grow. Please check this site in future for an up-to-date list as our service area expands.
- The patient must be considered homebound (i.e., not able to drive and unable to access outpatient healthcare services) unless not required by your insurance.
- The patient’s physician must attest to the fact that their health care requirements are medically necessary.
- The patient must be covered by one of the following insurance providers:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA
Coventry Health Care
Fallon Community Health Plan
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Coventry Health Care
Fallon Community Health Plan
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Senior Whole Health
Tufts Health Plan
United Health Care
Senior Whole Health
Tufts Health Plan
United Health Care
What services does our VNA provide?VNA provides a deep and broad range of care and services; a brief introduction to it is shown below. Because this is not a comprehensive or exhaustive list, we encourage you to call our office to discuss other services needed or available at (508) 473-0862.
- Post-operative care
- Care for many chronic illnesses including MS, Diabetes and
Congestive Heart Failure
- Cancer Care
Terminal care including our specialty Bridge Program
and palliative care for pain management
- Telehealth (Remote Monitoring)
Maternal and Child Health NursingMaternal and Child Health Nursing Prenatal, postpartum, neonatal, infant and early childhood services are provided by highly trained and experienced nurses with current knowledge of women, infant and children's health issues.
- Pre-natal care for mothers requiring bed rest
- Maternal and child care for those released early from maternity centers
- Pediatric care
Rehabilitation ServicesOur rehabilitation team of registered therapists works with individuals after a debilitating illness to improve strength, increase mobility and assist with lifestyle adaptation for specific conditions.
- Complete physical, occupational and speech therapy services
- Skilled evaluations including home assessments and adaptive equipment skilled evaluations
- Full complement of modality services
- Patient and family education
Mental Health NursingOur nurses serve young adults through the elderly through a specialized program for patients with primary psychiatric disorders or secondary emotional problems who are having difficulty coping and need in-home care.
- Care of the chronically mentally ill
- Alzheimer's and early dementia care
- Weekly Alzheimer's Support Group
- Coordination with mental health care team
Social ServicesVNA social workers offer support and help to patients and their families with coordination of care, benefits information, long-term-care assessment and assistance with placement, when appropriate.
- Long-term care planning
- Support for those with acute and chronic illness
- Identification of community resources, including personal care assistance
Home Health AidesCertified Home Health Aides (HHA) assist patients in their homes, receive specialized and ongoing education and are supervised by our clinical staff.
- Personal care assistance with bathing, dressing, exercises and meal preparation
Community ProgramsWe also sponsor and/or participate in the following health-related community services and activities:
- Elder Health Screening
- Flu Vaccine Administration
- Communicable Disease Information and Follow-up
- Community Health Fairs
- Support Groups
- Community Education
- Hospital Discharge Coordination
What distinguishes SALMON VNA & Hospice?Our VNA provides many of the same services available from other home health agencies. The major difference is the level of service that comes from the expertise within our complete post-acute care network. Our professionals have the luxury of tapping into the experience of co-workers with a broad base of knowledge in both community and communal settings. This allows for better care coordination, regardless of your personal situation. We are particularly dedicated to educating the patient, becoming a partner in their care and providing our services to them with dignity and respect. Our nursing staff is comprised of licensed, professional clinicians who provide a wide range of care to meet the diverse needs of our patients in their home settings. They are skilled in observation and assessment, case management and patient education, as well as direct patient care. Working closely with the patient, physicians and other community providers, our nurses establish a plan of care to meet each individual person’s needs. An interdisciplinary team approach is utilized and each individual's progress is measured and evaluated.
Point-of-Care Documentation There are no cumbersome charts or papers to transport. Our VNA staff records all the details of your case in a laptop computer system while at your home, allowing your entire healthcare team to instantly share that information. They will respect your privacy and follow all rules regarding keeping your healthcare information secure and only shared among providers as needed and designated.
Medication Reconciliation Our VNA recognizes that medication reconciliation is one of the pitfalls of hospital readmissions. We are committed to working with hospitals and medical centers to improve communication about medicines used at home when patients enter them. This ensures patient safety and paves the way for higher quality health care. We are dedicated to providing this information to any hospital or medical center prior to admittance.
Enterostomal (ET)/Wound Care Nurses on Staff Our VNA employs nurses with specialized certification in wound and ET care, providing state-of-the-art treatment of wounds and ostomies. With this new technology, wounds heal more quickly and completely
A Unique Commitment to Mental Health The Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Milford was the first mental health home care team east of the Mississippi River, and we remain one of the largest mental health home care services in the state.
Medical Supplies Our VNA arranges for medical supplies and equipment needed for home care.
How do I access care?You can access our VNA by calling us directly or through a professional referral. The referral can be from your physician’s office in an effort to prevent a hospitalization, a nurse or a social worker when you are being discharged from a hospital, rehabilitation center or skilled nursing center. This will help us provide your insurance provider with the information they require to approve your care.
Right now, VNA & Hospices’ coverage area encompasses 20 towns including Milford. We cover patients in the following towns and are in the process of growing. Please check back to see an updated list of our expanding service area.
Who pays for my care?If you fall within the guidelines outlined above, your insurance provider should pay for services required from our VNA. Please contact your health care provider directly regarding coverage.
Our VNA Telehealth ServiceThe goal of our health management program is to improve the quality of life and medical outcomes for our patients by managing chronic disease with consistent communication among patients, VNA nurses and physicians. The VNA Telehealth Service does just that!
What is Telehealth?Our Telehealth Service involves a portable monitor with easy-to-read instructions and clear voice prompts that is installed in a patient’s home. Vital health measurements such as blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen level and weight can be taken electronically and sent to our VNA office daily. There is no additional fee associated with Telehealth Service provided by our VNA.
Who would benefit from Telehealth?Telehealth is best suited to patients needing frequent contact with physicians and/or nurses. Patients who have chronic diseases and are willing to learn to manage their condition will be assessed for this enhanced VNA home health care service.
The patient, their physician and a VNA nurse are all involved in determining if Telehealth is appropriate. The patient’s physician is consulted to provide orders for the implementation of the service. A VNA nurse reviews the Telehealth system with the patient to determine if the patient will benefit by participating.
The VNA nurse assessment for Telehealth Service establishes:
- Whether the patient has the cognitive skills to remember and to perform certain tasks without on-site coaching by a nurse;
- Whether the patient has the physical capabilities of sufficient dexterity, adequate hearing and adequate vision;
- Whether the patient’s home environment is suited for the successful implementation of the monitor;
- Whether the patient has a positive attitude toward technology; and
- Whether the patient has the motivation needed for success.
Why consider participating in Telehealth?Patient education is at the heart of this service. Patients monitor their own status each day, promoting in them a sense of security, giving them an active role in maintaining their health and helping them achieve a better understanding of their own physical condition.
VNA nurses are alerted to each patient’s current health status and can address patient needs in a timelier manner than ever before. Physicians can provide more comprehensive medical management as well as rapid stabilization, if and when a patient’s condition worsens. As a result, Telehealth Service provides numerous advantages for those able to use the system:
- Daily documentation of patient information using Telehealth technology allows the care provider to track health patterns over time and detect deviations in patient data that may indicate a decline in health before it becomes acute. A Telehealth system can provide alerts that are activated when patient-specific baselines exceed a given parameter – weight, for instance.
- Our VNA will be able to modify baselines easily to ensure alerts are kept to a minimum and only signify a truly serious situation.
- Putting patients in charge of their own care leads to an overall improvement in health and improved outcomes. It also helps them avoid acute episodes with doctor and hospital visits, which are very costly physically, emotionally, and financially. Additionally, going through the motions of answering questions on a daily basis gives patients the comfort of knowing they are being looked after and helps reduce feelings of isolation, which can negatively impact their well-being.
- Using the Telehealth Service allows the VNA and the physician to quickly respond to changes in patient’s status while the patient is still in the home.
- The goal of Telehealth is to maintain that patient at home. Family members are comforted knowing that the person they love is being checked daily.
- Using behavioral, educational or pharmacological techniques, patient, physician and nurse can break the cycle of emergency visits and additional hospitalizations. For example, CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) patients using Telehealth Service experienced a 73% reduction in hospitalization and ER visits and an 80% reduction in total bed-days.
The concept of hospice is rooted in the meaning behind “hospitality” — that is, the offering of shelter and rest to those on a journey, provided with a warm, generous and open-minded reception. The word “hospice” was first used more than forty years ago regarding the special care for people in the last stages of life. Another phrase associated with hospice is “palliative care,” which means an approach that eases the pain or force of an illness without curing it.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care neither prolongs life nor hastens death. The goal of hospice care is to provide relief from avoidable pain and distress associated with the end of life. Specially trained professionals, volunteers and family members combine their efforts to create personal care that best meets the varied and changing needs of the individual.
Our Hospice care supports both the patient and family to provide a sense of autonomy, individuality, self-worth and security. An important focus of our Hospice care is emotional support for family and friends close to the patient.
When should Hospice care be considered?If you, a friend or relative is terminally ill, it may be time for this specialized kind of care. Hospice provides comfort for the last stage of life, enhancing that experience in many ways. Hospice care is far from “giving up.” It is a gift for patients and their families and friends to ease a time of stress and strain.
How is Hospice care accessed?Physicians can help people access Hospice care by certifying that a person is dealing with an incurable illness and is expected to live for six months or less. Hospice care is delivered to people where they live – in settings of every kind – from private homes to independent living arrangements such as retirement communities, assisted living residences, rest homes and skilled nursing centers. Our Hospice care is available to patients in Milford and 17 surrounding towns, and is expanding its service area soon. We currently serve:
All SALMON Health and Retirement communities located in Natick, Northborough, Northbridge, Westborough and Worcester, home to The Willows Premier Retirement Communities for Active Adults, Whitney Place Assisted Living Residences and Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Centers welcome Hospice as part of their continuum of care.
While you may choose any Hospice service, the local nature of our Hospice brings distinct advantages for people needing such care.
Hospice services are often delivered in a person’s home, but such care can be provided in other settings, including skilled nursing centers, assisted living residences and the homes of others caring for the patient. Our Hospice offers assistance 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
Why is a local Hospice team preferable?A team of caregivers such as those at our Hospice includes experienced, local nurses whose close proximity ensures rapid response time, 24 hours a day. If a person’s primary care physician is within the Milford Regional system their patient records are electronic, allowing our Hospice staff immediate access to the very latest information. This combination of speed and accuracy means continuity of care – that all providers are making decisions for individuals based on the most current data available.
Who is on the Hospice care team?Our team includes nurses, social workers, home health aides for personal care and pastoral counselors, creating an interdisciplinary approach. While our Hospice service has a medical director, each person keeps his or her own physician working in concert with the Hospice team.
The breadth of experience and care we can offer comes from our nursing and social work staff, along with volunteers and members of the clergy. The Salmon family approach to care at every level, along with Hospice of Greater Milford, has always been a team effort, and hospice care is no exception: meeting each of the medical, psychological and spiritual needs of the individual is our mission. Our Hospice accomplishes this by providing:
- Pain and symptom management
- Nursing services
- Counseling and spiritual guidance
- Assistance with personal needs and comfort
- Access to alternative therapies, such as music, pet therapy, therapeutic massage and Reiki
- Respite stays or temporary relief for family members from caregiving
- 24-hour, on-call nursing for medical emergencies
- Support and companionship from volunteers.
Is transition from home health care available?While new patients often enter Hospice care directly, our Hospice program also helps make the transition of patients from traditional home health services (VNA programs) into Hospice, which we call our Bridge Program. Hospice care can be offered in a nursing home or other medical center. It is often provided in the person’s own home so they can remain close to friends and those they love, improving their quality of life to the greatest extent.
Does Medicare cover Hospice services?Medicare offers Hospice benefits to those who meet the following conditions:
- You (or they) are eligible for Medicare Part A (Hospital insurance).
- Your (or their) physician and the Hospice medical director certify that the person has a “life-limiting” condition qualifying for access the Medicare Hospice benefit.
- The patient (or healthcare proxy) must sign a statement choosing Hospice care rather than other optional Medicare-covered benefits to treat the illness.
- You (or they) must receive care from a Medicare-approved Hospice program, such as our Hospice.
- While accessing Medicare Hospice benefits, you (or they) may continue to see your (or their) primary care physician. In addition, Medicare will continue to pay covered benefits for any health problems not related to the life-limiting illness.
What exactly does Medicare cover under the Hospice benefit?Upon your request, a Hospice team member (typically a nurse), will come to your home to discuss services and eligibility free of charge.
Once you select a Medicare-approved Hospice care team, Medicare will cover physician services, nursing care, medical equipment (such as wheelchairs, walkers and a hospital bed), medical supplies (including bandages and catheters), oxygen and prescription medication for symptom control or pain relief, including delivery of these to your home.
In addition, you may receive home health aide and home-maker services, physical and/or occupational therapy, social worker services, dietary counseling and grief and loss counseling for both the patient and their family members.
The Medicare Hospice benefit will also cover short-term inpatient care, short-term respite care (which may require a small co-payment) and any other services needed to manage pain or other symptoms, as recommended by your Hospice team.