How to Choose the Best Home Care Service For Mesothelioma Patients

Much of the care that you are going to get as a mesothelioma cancer patient will be given in an outpatient setting, which includes home care. In many ways, home care for the person with cancer is no different than the home care that is given to people with other kinds of illness.

A mesothelioma patient will need help with diet and nutrition, physical therapy, home health aides, speech and respiratory therapy, personal care, emotional support, volunteer services, pharmacy, support from clergy, and other kinds of care.
Also skilled nursing services involving the use of an oncology nurse specialist, who is an expert in cancer care might be available for home care treatment of the mesothelioma patient. Many of these same services are also offered as part of hospice care.

Some of the home care services that could be provided for the mesothelioma patient are:


-immunotherapy or biologic therapy (which use different parts of the body's immune system to fight cancer or lessen the side effects of some cancer treatments)

-blood products

-pain management

-antibiotic treatment

-nutritional support

-anti-emetic therapy (treatment for vomiting)

-hydration (giving of fluids, usually IV or through a feeding tube, for patients who cannot drink enough liquids). These infusion therapies can be given at home by home care agencies.

There are some points that you must consider if you want ton choose the best home agency for your care. You must first of all discuss with your health team to know the types of services you will need. Then you can find agencies that offer those services.

Find out about the accreditation, licensing, and certification of the agencies that you are considering. Also ask questions about your prospective agencies quality of cancer care, the type of experience they have with providing cancer care services, and the skills and training of staff at the agencies you are considering.

There are a number of questions you might ask when you're looking at a home care service:


Are the home care providers that you are considering Medicare-certified? Medicare-certified programs have met federal requirements for patient care and management. Home care providers are closely supervised and controlled. Medicare certifies only agencies with skilled nursing care. To find a Medicare-approved home health agency, you can visit "Home Health Compare" on the Web at This helpful tool is listed under the search tool "Compare Home Health Agencies in Your Area" on their home page. It gives you names, addresses, and phone numbers of nearby agencies. You can also look at quality measures and compare how well the home care agencies deal with common health problems.


Is the agency you are considering accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting body, such as the Joint Commission? You can look up the agency on the Joint Commission Web site at The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs that volunteer for their review. Accreditation is an important measure in selecting quality health care services. You can ask to see the results of the home care agency's most recent Joint Commission survey.


How many years has the agency been serving your community? Can the agency give you references from cancer care professionals, such as an oncologist, oncology nurse, cancer center, or an oncology social worker, who have used this agency? Ask for names and phone numbers. A good agency will give these to you if you ask. Talk to these people about their experiences. You may also wish to check with your local Better Business Bureau, your local Consumer Bureau, or the State Attorney General's office. They can tell you if complaints have been filed against the agency.


Is your prospective care provider licensed by your state?Most states require licensing of home health agencies.

Consumer information

Does the agency have written statements that list services (including cancer care services), eligibility requirements, costs and payment procedures, staff job descriptions, and malpractice and liability insurance? Ask that they send you any brochures or other information they can share about their services.

Quality of care

Does the agency have a 24-hour telephone number you can call when you have questions or complaints? How does the agency respond to your very first call? Does the telephone staff seem caring, patient, and competent from the first contact, even if they need to return your call? Do they speak in simple language, or do they use a lot of jargon? What is their procedure for receiving and resolving complaints? How an agency responds to that first call for help may give you a good idea of the kind of care to expect. You may also ask if the agency does customer satisfaction surveys. If so, ask to see the results of the last survey.


Does the agency have an emergency plan in place in case of a power failure or natural disaster? Ask to see a copy of the plan. In case of an emergency, you need to know if the agency can still deliver services to your home.


How quickly can the agency start services? What are its service boundaries -- do they serve your area? Does the agency offer specialized services by rehabilitation therapists, dietitians, family counselors, or art therapists when these could improve your comfort? Does the agency offer to lend used medical equipment or other items that might also enhance your quality of life?

Inpatient care

What are the agency's policies regarding inpatient care if you should need it? Where is such care provided? What are the requirements for an inpatient admission and how long can you stay? What happens if you no longer need hospital care but cannot go home? Can you tour the residential facility the agency uses? Which hospitals contract with the agency for inpatient care? What kind of follow-up does the agency provide for inpatients? Do nursing homes contract with the agency? Does the agency provide as much nursing, social work, and aide care for each patient in the nursing home as it does in the home setting?

Patient's rights and responsibilities

Does the agency explain these? Ask to see a copy of the agency's patient's rights and responsibilities information if it is not offered to you.


How does the agency handle payment and billing? Get all financial arrangements such as costs, payment procedures, and billing in writing. Read the agreement carefully before signing. Be sure to keep a copy. What resources does the agency provide to help you find financial aid if it is needed? Are standard payment plan options offered?


If equipment such as a respirator, oxygen machine, or dialysis machine is used, does the agency teach you or a responsible family member how to use and care for it at home? Who is available if equipment problems come up at night or on weekends?

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