Asthma Home Visit Programs

Did you know that some states in the U.S. have asthma home visit programs?

What are asthma home visit programs?

They allow health educators and community health workers to visit people in their homes and help them with their asthma. Yep, just like an old-fashioned house call from a doctor, Home Visitors come to your home. (But, they help educate people - they don't provide medical help.)

The lucky states that have those programs are funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Since the programs are funded by CDC, they are usually free for families. How cool is that?

The purpose of these asthma home visits

The asthma home visit programs are different in every state, but the basic idea is to provide 3 home visits.

Visit #1 -  asthma education

Health educators and community health workers can help with:

  • Making sure people are using proper inhaler technique
  • Explaining the difference between controller and rescue inhalers
  • Explaining the signs and symptoms of asthma
  • Knowing when to go the emergency room
  • Checking to see if they have an asthma action plan
  • Reinforcing education from their doctor

Home visitors may notice that the patient has incorrect inhaler technique, gets their inhalers mixed up (they’re not sure which one they should use every day and which one they use when they have an asthma attack or are sick), they aren't sure when they should use their rescue inhaler, or when they should go back the doctor, etc.

They can help reinforce what the doctor has taught the patients, and clear up any confusion about medications, etc. (Remember, they can't give medical advice - just educate. They remind families to call their doctor for any medical questions.)

Visit #2 - environmental assessment

Home Visitors can help families learn about:

  • The most common asthma triggers in the home
  • Where they are found
  • What you can do about them

Home visitors help families learn about things in their home that can affect their allergies and asthma. They may ask question such as:

  • How often do you clean your furnace filter?
  • How often are do you wash your sheets?
  • Are you using a mattress pad cover and pillow case cover?
  • Does your vacuum have a HEPA filter?
  • Does your pet sleep on your bed or in your room?
  • What cleaning supplies do you use? (do they have a strong odor that makes you cough?)

Doctors see patients in the clinic, but its hard to see what the home is like. Home Visitors are able to visit the home and may spot problem areas (a leaky roof, hole in the ceiling, mold on the walls, a child sleeping on old carpet in the floor, etc.) The home visitors are there to help, they don't judge. (Don't worry - there's no white glove test to see if you are dusting!)

If the home visit families can’t afford to get problems fixed in their house, most home visit programs work with other agencies (like Habitat for Humanity) that can help with fixing a roof, help clean up mold, or tear out old carpet and replace it with wood floors or tile, etc.

As part of visit #2, many programs can provide (free of charge!) cleaning supplies, allergy reduction products (like mattress pad covers, pillow case covers, air cleaners, vacuums, etc.)

Visit #3 - follow up

Home visitors will follow up and see how families are doing. Are they still using correct inhaler technique? Were they able to go back to the doctor and get their inhaler refilled? Are they using the right inhalers at the right time? If they needed insurance, were they able to get insurance? Do they feel that their cleaning supplies are helping them have fewer allergies and asthma symptoms? Are they missing fewer days of school and work?

If you are in the U.S. check with your state health department and see if you are one of the lucky states that has an asthma home visit program. What a great idea for public health to partner with doctors and hospitals.


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