Private-Duty Nursing Services
The preceding section, "Home-Health Care,"
discussed intermittent or time limited services provided by
home-health agencies. If you need someone to provide care for long
periods of time on an ongoing basis, you may require private-duty
nursing services. Some people need a nurse only for a few hours a day,
while others need 24-hour care. Most private-duty nursing services
have registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, home-health aides,
and homemakers available to provide care in the home. There is an
established fee for this service with prices varying, depending on
whether the care requires the skills of a registered nurse or
practical nurse, home-health aide or homemaker. Some private insurance
companies will pay all or part of the costs of private-duty nursing
HOW PRIVATE-DUTY NURSING SERVICES CAN HELP
- Provide care after surgery by a registered nurse (RN) or licensed
practical nurse (LPN).
- Offer help with bathing and personal care by a home-health aide.
- Provide shopping, cooking, and general assistance by a homemaker.
HOW DO YOU FIND THESE SERVICES?
- The best way to get private-duty home-care services is to ask your
doctor, nurse, or the social worker at your home-health agency or
hospital if they could recommend a private home-care agency. Or look
in the Yellow Pages of your phone book under "Nurses" or "Home Health
- To obtain private insurance coverage, your doctor must state in
writing that you need this type of care.
- Private home-care services are available from home-health agencies
and other private nursing agencies.
- Your American Cancer Society may also provide information about
- Before choosing a particular agency, it is best to check with
several private nursing services to compare prices and services.
- Ask the home-care service how the people providing care have been
educated and how they will be supervised, particularly for a homemaker
or home-health aide. You should also ask if employees are bonded.
- If you have insurance that may cover the costs, ask the
private-duty nursing service if it can contact your insurance company
concerning payment, and if it could bill the insurance company
- Remember that neither Medical Assistance nor Medicare will pay for
private-duty nursing services.
- The pamphlet "How to Select a Home Care Agency" will be useful in
choosing private- duty nursing services (see page 52).
- Some people with cancer need a non-skilled person to stay with
them for part of each day or even 24 hours a day, but they cannot
afford to pay the rates charged for private-duty nursing services. In
this instance, there are several options to consider.
- It is sometimes less expensive to hire a person to stay with you
for a few hours each day. That person could be someone you know, such
as a relative, neighbor, or friend, or it could be someone you locate
through advertising. Be sure to ask for several references and check
each reference before you hire. Make sure the person you employ
understands exactly what you will expect. It would be helpful if you
had a specific list of tasks to be performed.
- Organize family members to stay with you in "shifts." It is best
to start with a family meeting. Although some families have
experienced problems in the past that make it difficult for them to
cooperate, in times of need most families are willing to help each
- Some religious groups have organized volunteers who are willing to
visit with an ill person to read to them, do errands, or even relieve
the caretaker for a period of time. Ask your place of worship if it
has such services.
- If you are seriously ill, or have a limited life expectancy, you
may be eligible for hospice services. Hospice programs often have volunteers who provide
homemaker or companion services.
Frequently Asked Questions
National Cancer Institute