Are you looking for a flexible schedule and top pay? A position as a home health therapist may be perfect for you. In this therapy setting, you’ll travel to a patient’s residence to provide skilled care, which could include his or her home, the home of a caregiver, or even an independent living center or skilled nursing facility. Medicare only covers home care services for those who cannot travel to outpatient facilities, or are homebound due to a chronic health problem. As healthcare insurers and facilities put more resources towards preventing hospital readmissions, Home Health Rehabilitation has become a growing field that offers several career advantages to therapy professionals.
Home Health Physical Therapist: Career Overview
As of 2012, 11 percent of physical therapists were working in home health. And this is an up-and-coming field: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of July 2013, home health positions accounted for about two-thirds of all newly created ambulatory care positions. The American Care Act’s bundled reimbursement structure emphasizes providing Home Healthcare in a health system’s continuum of care. Regional health providers are merging with and acquiring independent Visiting Nurse Associations to improve their service offerings in this area. In addition, as the population of baby boomers continues to age, and healthcare reform requires more and more people to obtain health coverage, the demand for home healthcare services will continue to increase.
Average salary expectations
According to BLS, as of May 2012, the median annual wage for all physical therapists, including those working in home health, was $79,860. However, the May 2013 BLS census, which divides salary data into more specific categories, reports that physical therapists working in Home Health Care Services had a median annual wage of $91,190.
Benefits of working as a home health therapist
Obviously, many therapists choose to work in the home health setting because of the great reimbursement. However, as a therapist working in home health, you’ll have several other benefits, as well.
- Flexible scheduling. Many home health agencies will work with your scheduling needs, including part-time hours, four 10 hour days. Because you control your schedule, you can work around basketball games, or other family responsibilities.
- Plenty of job opportunities. As this therapy setting grows, so too will the list of open positions available to you.
- Throughout your daily travels, you’ll work with your patients, but will also meet their caregivers, family and friends. If you’re someone who doesn’t like being stuck in an office, home health therapy provides a change of scenery every day.
- A chance to build meaningful relationships with your patients. Working with patients in their home lends itself to intimacy. Patients who are homebound are motivated to improve and often gain significant improvement in the quality of their lives as their treatment progresses.
Check out our recent Therapist Survey for more honest feedback about Pros and Cons of working in Home Health
How to choose a great home healthcare employer
As with all jobs, the company that you work for will make or break your experience. Since Home Health Therapists are in high demand, you can afford to be picky. Look for a home healthcare employer who provides the following:
- Adequate, comprehensive orientation.
- Ongoing mentoring during your first 6 months.
- All the tools you need to do your job well – computer, phone etc.
- Reasonable driving distance between patients.
- GSA mileage reimbursement, or the use of a company vehicle.
Lastly, you’ll want to ask about the pay structure and whether you’ll be paid by the hour or by the visit. Determine which reimbursement structure is best for you by listening in on the following article, which weighs the pros and cons of each.
Resources to help home health therapists
Depending on your home healthcare employer, you may have access to support if you find yourself in need of help or advice while working with a patient. To network with other home health physical therapists, you can visit the home health section of the APTA website or attend one of their Home Health Section Meetings. For some free support, try asking your questions in a LinkedIn group, such as the Home Healthcare Group or Home Health Products Group.
Interested in a home health assignment?
Contact the experienced recruiters at PT Solutions. We have openings across the country for physical, occupational, and speech therapists, including home health placements. To learn more about how PT Solutions can help you find your next therapy position, contact us today.