When you’re ready to transition from a hospital or skilled rehabilitation facility back to your home, supportive services like home health care can make all the difference.

“There are so many little things that home health can do that people don’t realize,” Catherine Merkey, outreach coordinator for Masonic Village Home Health in Elizabethtown, Pa., said. “It is what makes you successful after a health event and you’re transitioning back to your home.”

A patient may struggle with several issues upon returning home, and home health care nurses are there to help. Staying on top of medication is one of the biggest issues, Catherine said.

“You go into a hospital and have one set of medications and think you have it down, but then they adjust the prescription for whatever health-related incident you are going through and you go home and don’t know how much medicine to take, or whether the script was sent to the pharmacy,” she said.

Luckily, home health nurses specialize in “coordinated care,” which contributes to the success of a patient. “The nurses are willing to call doctors’ offices and pharmacies to make sure everything is right so that our patients are successful,” Catherine said.

Nurses can also help with limitations in the home, for example, with a patient who just had orthopedic surgery and has limited mobility. “Many patients think they can navigate their home like they did before, but they soon realize that’s not the case,” Catherine said. It’s important to have a nurse arrive within a few days (or sooner depending on the patient), of the patient returning home. He or she can evaluate the home and make recommendations, like moving furniture from passage ways, for example.

Masonic Village’s home health nurses are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which can be comforting to patients and/or caregivers who want to problem solve an issue over the phone. The nurses can connect with the patient’s spouse or family member and give suggestions, too.

“To be able to call a nurse and have comfort on the other line is huge,” Catherine said. “Our job is to teach and train family members or patients how to do things.”

Marilyn Varnum, a Masonic Village at Elizabethtown resident whose husband, Frederick Hansen, receives home health care, said the service is consistent and dependable. “Because of the care he gets, I’m able to take part in other activities going on at the village, and I can lead a fuller life,” Marilyn said. “Masonic Village does a wonderful job. I’ve never been left with nobody showing up. They are always there for us.”