Being a care provider for a loved one is fulfilling work, but more often than not it can also be overwhelming when a higher level of care is needed. Unless you were trained in the medical field, you might very well find it confusing and difficult to adhere to doctors’ strict orders for treatments and medications. It can feel restrictive to be at your loved one’s beck and call for feeding, cleaning, and ambulating. Plus some parents and loved ones might feel uncomfortable receiving personal cares from one of their grown children.
Before you consider sending your loved one to an assisted care facility — which can be outrageously expensive even with the help of Medicare or Medicaid — you might consider seeking the assistance of a home care agency.
As you will be working closely with your home care provider to give your loved one the absolute best possible quality of life, it is crucial that you consider all of the various aspects of professional home care. Here are five steps that will ensure you get the perfect home care assistance for your loved one.
1. Select the Right Level
Every home care situation is different — and to suit every home-bound patient’s needs, there are various levels of home care provided by home care agencies. Usually, one agency’s services will fall into one of three categories:
- Personal care services. If your loved one has straightforward medical needs but is unable to care for his or her general well-being, you may need this level. Personal care staff will visit your home and aid in everyday actions, like feeding, bathing, positioning, and toileting.
- Companionship care services. Loved ones who require this level require help with more mundane aspects of living. For example, a care companion may grocery shop, do laundry, or engage in crafts with your loved one. Companionship care can be scheduled or be live-in.
- Professional nursing care services. This level is intended for loved ones who necessitate complex medical aid. Trained medical professionals visit your loved one’s residence and help him or her with medical needs, including ostomy care, oxygen therapy, and diabetic care.
2. Choose the Right Type
The level of care your loved one requires will govern what type of agency you seek out. Generally, an agency specializes in one level of home care; however, some agencies may offer different tiers to provide a custom fit to your loved one’s lifestyle. Still, agencies vary in how they run, and you may benefit by learning your options:
- Home care agency. Confusingly enough, organizations under this name usually don’t provide skilled medical services to their clients.
- Home health agency. Physicians, nurses, or other medical professionals develop treatment plans and provide specific medical care to homebound individuals.
- Registry or staffing agency. Some home care professionals are available through these organizations, which may or may not take a cut of their pay.
- Independent providers. Not all home care workers align with agencies; plenty of qualified professionals offer their particular services alone, which can be easier and less expensive.
3. Research Qualifications
It should go unsaid, but your loved one deserves the best home care assistance possible for your budget. You should ensure your chosen agency or private provider is fully licensed and certified to state and federal requirements, and you should verify that their training is adequate for the level of care they are providing. Also ascertain that the agency does background checks when hiring and that they do unannounced drop-ins to check up on their employees once hired.
For example, companions and personal caregivers perhaps should have some amount of training in social work or another related social science and be up-to-date on the best care techniques. Conversely, home health aides should be educated and be committed to continuing their education with advanced degrees that study the unique challenges of home-based care and those that receive it.
4. Understand Payment Options
Over time, home care can become expensive, and most families simply don’t have the resources to pay for assistance out of pocket. Rates for home care providers can vary as much as 50 percent per hour even in the same town, so if you have concerns regarding cost, you would benefit from shopping around.
Medicare and Medicaid will selectively cover home health aides, as long as their services are strictly medical. Personal health insurance coverage may be broader and cover a wider range of services. Unfortunately, the first two levels of home care — personal and companionship care — are often not covered by health insurance because they usually do not require a home care professional to administer medical aid. Still, some individuals, including veterans, are eligible for other financial aid for home care.
5. Ask the Right Questions
When it finally comes time to interview potential candidates, you should thoroughly interrogate your loved one’s prospective home care providers. To confirm that your loved one will receive the highest possible standard of living, you could prepare a list of questions regarding the providers’ credentials, monitoring processes, optional services, and more. You shouldn’t be concerned about seeming harsh — when your loved one’s comfort and health are at stake, you want to know you are getting exactly what he or she needs.
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