Deaconess Hospital

Deaconess VNA Plus: Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that most people do not give much thought to home care and hospice until there is a need, either for you or for a loved one. If you have additional questions not answered below, please call 812-425-3561 or 800-326-4862 for more information.

General Questions

How long have you been in business?
Deaconess and VNA Plus have each served their communities for more than a century. The two entities formed a joint venture partnership May 1, 2014 to more effectively and efficiently meet the Tri-state’s home care and hospice needs.

What services do you provide?
Deaconess VNA Plus is the most comprehensive home care and hospice provider in the Tri-state area, which enables individuals and families to receive every service they need through one agency, including personal care, respite and medication management; in-home monitoring technology; home care nursing, rehabilitation services, wound care and other specialty services; and hospice care for those facing a terminal illness. Visit our Services section to learn more.

Who pays for services?
Home care and hospice services may be eligible for coverage by Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance; Deaconess VNA Plus is Medicare and Medicaid certified, meaning that we can accept payment through these programs. Some in-home monitoring systems and personal care are not covered by these programs and must be paid for out-of-pocket, by other state and federal assistance programs, or through the use of a long-term care insurance policy or Veterans' benefits. Deaconess VNA Plus staff can help you by evaluating coverage options before we provide service, and by handling claims processing and all related paperwork after you become our patient.

For more information about government funded programs, please contact the Southwestern Indiana Regional Council on Aging (SWIRCA & More.) VNA Plus is also a United Way agency that provides care to people unable to pay whenever funds are available and appropriate. Donations are accepted and always appreciated; visit our Donations page to learn more.
When is staff available?
Home care and hospice services are available daily, including weekends and holidays. Visits are scheduled according to your physician’s orders and the plan for your care. In addition, a nurse is available after hours to assess your situation and make visits as needed.

Personal care services are provided 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including weekends and holidays. We begin to schedule a request for service immediately following your call or visit to our office, and we make every effort to have service in place as soon as you need it, often on the same day!

Phones are answered 24 hours a day. After normal business hours of 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, calls are accepted by after-hours staff or by our answering service.

Can I trust your employees?
For our patients’ and customers' safety, all Deaconess VNA Plus staff has met strict hiring guidelines and are employed by the agency; we do not use independent contractors. We screen and reference all potential employees through extensive criminal history and driving record checks, and drug testing. Where required, health care staff is current on licensing, and all employees are trained, bonded, insured, and up-to-date on infection control and privacy law requirements. The agency takes care of all payroll, taxes, and benefits; provides workers' compensation insurance; and offers ongoing educational and training opportunities.

We understand that it is a big decision to allow someone into your home, and we take that responsibility seriously. Supervisors are always available to address any concerns or issues that arise during care.

Will I or my family be involved in my care?
Most definitely! Patient and family participation is a vital part of our team approach to care. Your case manager will work with you and your family as well as your physician and the other Deaconess VNA Plus team members to ensure that decisions and education meet your expectations and goals for care. It is vital that you and your family and caregivers participate in your care. We will also maintain regular contact with your physician, pharmacist, and other members of your health care team.

Home Health Care Questions

Why would I need home care services?
Home care is appropriate for people of all ages and has been proven to be an efficient, cost effective form of care that helps people recover in the comfort of home. Typically, our patients are about to be discharged from a hospital, rehabilitation center or long-term care facility but need additional care to heal and recover; they have had a significant change in their medical condition; or they need education about their disease and instruction on how to best care for themselves. Home care is prescribed by a physician and generally includes skilled services such as nursing; physical, occupational or speech therapy; wound care; medical social work; and home care aides to assist with personal care.

Who pays for home care?
Medicare, Medicaid, some commercial insurance plans and workers' compensation pay for home care services if specific criteria are met. Some insurance may pay for part, but not all, of the services requested. Medicare regulations require that the individual be homebound; he or she must be leaving the home only infrequently (such as for medical appointments, worship, and special occasion activities) and must not be driving. Deaconess VNA Plus staff is available to help determine coverage and benefits prior to setting up home care; and can also help obtain the physician's order necessary to begin services.

How do I get home care started?
Home care services may be set up prior to leaving the hospital or facility; it is important to note that you have a choice about who provides your care and you may request that the discharge planner or social worker contact your preferred agency.

A physician, family member or the patient may also initiate service. Feel free to call Deaconess VNA Plus at 812-425-3561 or toll free, 800-326-4862 for more information; or use our online referral option.

How long does home care last?
Home care is not meant to be long-term care; rather, it is intended to be provided for a limited period of time and on an intermittent (part time) basis. A nurse is available to our patients 24 hours a day for emergencies. Your care plan is designed specifically for you and will change according to your particular needs. Deaconess VNA Plus staff visits only as often as necessary to help you progress in your recovery; and your physician is kept informed of your condition and any changes in your status. As you become able to meet your needs independently, services are discontinued.

For those who need some assistance to continue living at home safely--but no longer qualify for home care—Deaconess VNA Plus also offers personal care that is not covered by Medicare, Medicaid or most commercial insurance. Some long-term care insurance policies and Veterans' programs provide benefits for personal care. Please call  812-425-3561 or toll free, 800-326-4862 for more information.


Private Duty Care Questions

What is private duty care?
Private duty care--sometimes called "custodial care", "non-medical care" or "senior care"--is not eligible for coverage under Medicare and Medicaid, and because of that, is less regulated and more customer-directed: the customer and family determine what type(s) of care will be provided at what times during the day or night, and for how long. Deaconess VNA Plus offers a complete range of private duty services from minimal assistance such as the Lifeline Medical Alert Service; to light housekeeping, companionship, help with bathing and hygiene, and respite for family caregivers; to in-home routine nursing services and medication management. Care is tailored to each person’s individual needs and wishes; and may be changed or discontinued at any time with a phone call to the Personal Care department at 812-425-3561or toll free, 800-326-4862. Since personal care is not covered by Medicare, you do NOT have to be homebound to receive these services.

What does private duty cost?
Rates vary depending on the level of care and frequency of services needed; we are happy to explain these rates to you via a telephone conversation or free, no-obligation in-home assessment. It is important to remember that Deaconess VNA Plus rates are inclusive for the services provided; there are no extra fees or hidden charges beyond the rate communicated to you. In order to make our services as affordable as possible, we provide care for as little as two consecutive hours (many agencies require a minimum of four hours), and we can also assist you in locating other community resources to supplement paid care.

Why should I use an agency for non-medical care?
There are many differences between professional private duty agencies and care offered by someone through an ad in the classifieds or independent contractors provided by a registry. A state-licensed home care agency like Deaconess VNA Plus is the only model that accepts responsibility for screening, employing, training, insuring and supervising its staff. Deaconess VNA Plus also assumes all responsibility for payroll, taxes and workers' compensation; and arranges back-up care when the primary caregiver is ill or on vacation. The Home Care Association of America--of which Deaconess VNA Plus is a member--recommends asking all potential providers several questions before choosing care; you can also find more information about HCAOA member agencies on their website.

How do we get started?
For questions, concerns or to arrange service, please call the Private Duty department at 812-425-3561 or toll free, 800-326-4862; or use our online referral option. We will make every effort to have a caregiver in place as soon as you need one.  

What if my loved one doesn't like the caregiver?
That is another valid reason for using an agency; we have many employees with different personalities and we try to match them to our customer expectations. If your loved one is not happy with the caregiver, we can send someone else who may be a better fit.

Can I change the schedule of care if I need to?
Yes, services are tailored to your needs. Advance notice through a phone call to our office is appreciated.

What if family can help some, too?
Private duty care does not have to be scheduled 24 hours a day. It is often used to supplement the care provided by family members, church volunteers, etc. Our caregivers can be arranged around other family members' availability or to provide assistance with tasks that the client or family may find sensitive or uncomfortable.

Do I have to sign a contract?
No. A signature on a customer agreement is required to acknowledge the rate for the service and other simple terms, but the service is provided only for as long as you need it or want it and may be cancelled at any time.

What if my loved one's health gets worse?
As a full-service agency offering private duty care, skilled home health care and hospice care, we have all levels of assistance available. If the customer’s situation changes, Deaconess VNA Plus can quickly and easily adapt the services provided, eliminating the need to seek the assistance of another agency.

Will Mom have the same caregiver every time?
We make every effort possible to send the same person to each visit. At times, a substitute may be sent; however, we maintain a team approach and train more than one person in each situation for those times when the regular worker cannot be there.

Can I get in touch with you after the office closes?
Yes, we have supervisors on duty after regular business hours and on the weekends.

Hospice Care Questions

Is hospice just for people with cancer?
No, hospice care is available to anyone who has been certified by a physician as having a life-limiting illness (usually six months or less if the disease follows its normal course.) Examples of other illnesses that may result in a recommendation to hospice include lung disease, cardiac disease, renal failure or dementia.

Are hospice and palliative care the same thing?
These types of care are similar; like palliative care, hospice provides comfort measures to the patient as well as the family. However with hospice, treatments aimed at curing the person's illness are stopped and the focus of care is on managing pain and other symptoms.

Is hospice delivered only at home?
Deaconess VNA Plus provides hospice care in patients' homes and in some long-term care facilities. Deaconess VNA Plus also provides inpatient care at the John and Betty Charlier Hospice Center and other facilities including Deaconess Hospital.

What if I change my mind about hospice?
Making the decision to receive hospice care does not have to be permanent. If you change your mind and wish to pursue treatment, you will be discharged from our hospice service. You may resume your hospice care at a later time if your physician certifies that this care is appropriate.

Is hospice 24-hour care?
Hospice in the home or long-term care facility does not include a nurse present 24 hours a day. Members of the hospice team will visit the patient according to the established care plan and are available 24 hours a day for emergencies. Volunteers may be available to assist families and provide respite.

The Charlier Hospice Center is staffed with registered nurses 24 hours a day for inpatients whose symptoms or pain cannot be managed at home or in a facility, or who have other needs that make them eligible for an inpatient hospice setting.

Is hospice care expensive?
Medicare, Medicaid and most commercial insurance provide a benefit for hospice that covers the cost of medications, medical equipment and services provided by the hospice team in various care settings. Deaconess VNA Plus also has staff that can coordinate insurance, payment and related paperwork so that patients and families can focus on more important matters during this time.  

Isn't hospice just for the last few days of life?
Many patients and families express the wish that they had known about hospice sooner in order to receive the support and guidance needed during the dying process. Experts agree that at least two to three months of hospice care is optimal for the patient and family.

If your physician does not suggest hospice, you may have to initiate the conversation. Deaconess VNA Plus offers a helpful guide published by the National Institute on Aging that answers many of the initial questions about hospice. Request a free copy by calling the Community Relations department at 812-425-3561 or toll free, 800-326-4862.

Does hospice speed up death?
Hospice neither hastens nor postpones dying. It is a philosophy of care that focuses on meeting physical, psychological and spiritual needs; emphasizes symptom control, pain management and support for the patient and family as they transition from life to death; and encourages living life to the fullest in ways that are personal and meaningful.

To refer someone to Deaconess VNA Plus Hospice, please call 812-425-3561 or toll free, 800-326-4862; or use our online referral option.