Black and white movies often depict a doctor making house calls with their inky bags. It was the only method by which doctors would see their patients in the last three centuries. Transport was very uncommon, expensive, and slow. The visit was also unexpected for the doctor did not know the true nature of the call until he had a chance to carry out his examination. You may have to deliver a baby or fish out a bone stuck in the throat. Of course, perhaps back then doctors would not be called over for simple complaints that were popularly treated with home remedies.
Medicine was not practised the way it is today. Unlike specialists we have in the 21st century, most doctors in those days would become general practitioners in order to be able to carry out a successful home visit. As we approached mid-sixties, however, the number of house calls started diminishing until they almost became a thing of the past by the end of the century. For those of us who experienced the old school method of visiting with a health care professional at home, being able to call a home doctor in Sydney feels like one of life’s better gifts. Do you know? At the beginning of the twentieth century, about three-quarters of the doctors were general practitioners, and that number dropped down to less than 1% with the dawn of the twenty-first century. Because of recent developments in medicine and healthcare facilities, the revival of house calls seems close. House calls while rare these days, are being carried out by more than just doctors; nurses and paramedics are carrying out home visits. And it is not just the sick and their caregivers who reap the benefits of a home visit. Read on to find out more.
How many times have we wished for a GP we could call home to consult for our ailing parent or child because they fell or developed a critical condition that made us afraid to move them to the hospital? And sometimes, arriving at the hospital may just be the beginning of your worry for it means filling out tedious forms, and waiting for the staff to dispense care and attention your way.
Home visits are especially invaluable in the case of the elderly and the infirm. While some seniors tend towards hypochondria, others are too proud to admit that they may be ill and in need of attention. Anyone trying to move them from their comfort zone for those ‘annoying’ tests and ‘pesky’ hospital visits, is their arch enemy and definitely not a friend. What if you developed a serious scare that your beloved grandparent may have a hairline fracture or is in danger of harming themselves due to weakening eyesight or faculties? A trained elderly caregiver is able to drop by in their home environment, reassure them with their friendly demeanour, and spot the problem from a mile away.
Attention to Detail
When a healthcare provider visits a senior or homebound patient’s home, they can look at how care is being administered, what the medicine cabinet looks like, the state of the bedside table (and remains of food or drink given to the person under their care) and even get to chat with the family members who play a primary role in the treatment of the patient. The stocking of the refrigerator can also come under discussion and the handling of the patient’s food. When the family caregivers are at peace in their home base, they are more likely to remember important things that help the professional medical caring for their beloved. Dr Alan Kronhaus, CEO of Doctors Making Housecalls, based in the USA, says “We look for things like steep steps without carpeting, area rugs without nonskid padding underneath, electrical cords that could represent a tripping hazard, poor lighting.”
Chiropractic House Call
Dr Kelly Wolf, nutritionist and chiropractor, makes house calls for she believes that valuable time and money are wasted administering chiropractic care in the office when the patient is going to tense up making the long drive home, more so if they are going to battle rush hour traffic or queues at the supermarket or bank. The adjustment done by the chiropractor is laid to waste with the onslaught of stress. When the patient, be they, athletes, ordinary people or senior citizens, is in the comfort of their home, they are relaxed and able to move as advised. They can also apply heat or ice in a timely manner as necessary. The patient is able to have excellent care in the safety of their home while they save time.
Veterinary House Call
It is most difficult to take a reluctant pet to the veterinary clinic, more so if you have several. Our household animals are at their most comfortable in the safety and warmth of their owner’s home. Pet services or individual practising doctors that make house calls are able to see to the animal in its home environment. This is especially useful when the animal has inadvertently harmed itself, and moving is near enough impossible or can worsen the injury.
Quick and Better Recovery
Reports note that hospital readmissions are greatly reduced when patients are cared for in the safety of their homes, with doctors able to check in on them in their comfort zone. Family members are at peace with loved ones being able to administer better post-admission care, so as to make a recovery from illness quicker. This may be due to better faculties on the patient’s part since they are happy with their environs. It may also be in some part contributed to better care for the hospital staff to have their hands and schedules full, and cannot be expected to give extra attention or care to a difficult patient.
Even though home care facilities and home visits by doctors have their own fees which are more than what you would pay for a single visit at the hospital or clinic, when patients recuperate quicker and better, you save on long-term costs of hospital stay and possible costs in case of readmission or incurring an infection. You are able to see the doctor at your own turf in your own time, saving on transportation and having to make room on your schedule. Medical professionals are also able to listen to their patients carefully and give them adequate time, which is not possible at a facility where the next patient is in line to see the doctor.
A revival of home doctor visits would benefit the system on saving medical costs, as well as the patients and caregivers. Medical professionals are able to expand their care, making new experiences and looking at things from the patient’s perspective.