Thursday, September 02, 2021

How Home Health Screening Is Conducted, And What Community Care Organisations Should Take Note Of


When you think of health screening, you think of a client heading to a hospital, a polyclinic or a general practitioner to check their health status. However, the need to make a trip to an institution, especially after fasting for at least eight hours prior, may deter seniors from doing regular health screening. In addition, homebound seniors may also face commuting issues.

However, any medical practitioner would tell you how important regular health screening is, especially for seniors. Homage understands this, which is why they launched a service in early 2021, giving clients the option to have a health screening in the comfort of their homes.

Here are some things to learn from Homage’s experience.

Why Offer Home Health Screening?

“We observed a spike in enquiries from existing clients on the availability of medical teleconsultations and home medical services as families increasingly look for options to minimise infection risk during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Gillian Tee, the CEO and co-founder of Homage.

“Seniors, in particular, face difficulties accessing professional medical consultations in hospitals and clinics due to a lack of mobility and dependency on family members. This challenge is more apparent in recent times where our community is advised to take more precaution against potential exposure to Covid-19.”

The Homage Health Screening Service is an extension of Homage Health, a service designed to provide medical services – mobile medicine, teleconsultation, and medication delivery – for clients in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

It offers multiple benefits for seniors and clients, including:

  • Providing convenience for seniors who are frail, less mobile and/or have difficulty travelling to medical institutions
  • Enable seniors to be independent as they don’t have to rely on loved ones to bring them for health screening
  • Allow seniors to be more at ease in the familiar and private environment of their home
  • Enable seniors to monitor their health better and take preventive care, and discover any health problems early
  • More tech-savvy seniors can access the app to explore other services provided by Homage to ensure holistic care

How Home Health Screening Works

The Home Health Screening service is led by trained local Homage Care Pros, comprising doctors and nurses.

Homage uses an algorithm to match the Homage Care Pros to the clients to ensure not only the right competencies, but also that the match aligns with the client’s preference of language or gender.

Gillian said, “We have observed from care visits that this helps to foster rapport and facilitate communication between the senior and the Homage Care Pros, putting them more at ease.”

The Home Health Screening service entails a full-body medical check-up, and the client can receive health reports as fast as within one working day.

It includes:

  • Height measurement
  • Weight measurement
  • Blood sample collection
  • Urine sample collection
  • Stool sample collection

“Local nurses registered with the Singapore Nursing Board will first visit the clients in their home to record vital signs and collect samples of blood, urine and stools. These nurses have at least two years of hospital ward experience,” Gillian explained.

The client then can schedule a teleconsultation with one of Homage’s doctors, who are  registered with the Singapore Medical Council, at their convenience. During this session, the doctor will triage and review chronic conditions and new symptoms, and if required, they may prescribe medication that can be delivered to the client’s home.

 A screengrab of a teleconsultation between a Homage doctor and a client.

How to do Home Health Screening During Covid-19 Pandemic

As Homage launched the service during the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important for them to deliver safe and quality care to their clients. They do so by abiding by the regular advisories issued by the Ministry of Health, including safety measures and protocols, such as:

·       Implementing mandatory declaration of health, travel and contact history for clients

·       Making teleconsultations the default process for Homage doctors to go through the health screening report with care recipients, to reduce cross-deployment

Homage also ensures the safety of their clients and the Homage Care Pros by:

o   Ensuring Homage Care Pros adhere to mandatory Personal Protection Equipment protocols and requirements during service delivery

§  A surgical mask at all times when delivering care

§  Apron and gloves (for procedures with potential exposure to blood/body fluids)

o   Doing a thorough screening of Care Professionals before visits

o   Implementing tight cross-deployment restrictions for Care Professionals

o   Encouraging staff to go for COVID-19 vaccinations, regular swab screening, continuous monitoring of their health, and completing health declarations

Challenges Faced by Homage

Homage noted that some of their clients are reluctant to go for a health screening because of their aversion to needles, or they find urine or stool collection inconvenient or uncomfortable. To counter this, Homage sends a trained nurse to their homes for sample collection to help make them feel at ease.

The organisation also saw challenges in digital adoption among seniors who are not technologically-savvy. To address this, clients can engage trained Homage staff and nurses to provide in-person support to them to carry out teleconsultations with doctors.

A Homage staff can provide in-person support, such as explaining the different types of medication, during a client’s teleconsultation with a doctor.

Seniors and caregivers who wish to book a health screening appointment can make a request via a call with Homage’s Care Advisory team at 6100 0055 at least two to three working days in advance.

Photos with clients were taken before Covid-19 pandemic; for illustration only.

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