10 Top Questions to Ask an in Home Health Care Agency

About Senior Care

Finding the right in home health care agency that provides senior home care can cause stress and anxiety to a family caregiver. Many times the home health care provider is set up by the discharge planner or social worker at the hospital. There are also times when a family care giver wants to make arrangements for in home health care.

Many family members providing care for elderly in home settings find a need for outside help. Family caregivers are often reluctant to have inside help, because they fear that they will not be able to find good help. I think that it is important for family caregiver to understand that in home health care can be a blessing and give you peace of mind. Everything that has so many pluses also has some minuses. Education is the key to preventing mistake.

I am here to help you prevent making mistakes and enjoy the benefits of senior home care. I have created a list of over 30 questions to ask, I will share 10 of them with you today. I feeI I must first address that there are two categories of in home health care as determined by Medicare guidelines.They are skilled care or custodial care.

Skilled care requires a doctor’s order and refers to a medical or more intense need such as nursing, social services and therapy (physical, occupational or speech). Custodial care refers to help with bathing, dressing, and cooking, cleaning and shopping or even companionship. There is a different type of home health care provider for each level of service needed.

How is the agency licensed or accredited? I like to ask this question because accreditations are the organizations that set the standards for the industry. Many organizations must have these accreditations in order to receive reimbursement by long term care insurance providers. I will tell you not all agencies are accredited even though they meet all the requirements. Some agencies choose not to go through the process as it is time consuming and very expensive. I would not rule an organization out if the rest of the interview goes well.

More of the top 10 questions to ask an in home health care agency about senior home care

How long has the in home health care agency been in business? It is important that you deal with an organization that has a solid reputation and the people that work in that organization are individuals that belong and are know to the community.

What kind of criminal background checks are performed for prospective employees? Are employee references checked? How many? Are personnel files updated annually? These are very important questions. Too many times agencies hire employees and allow them to start work before their background checks have come back to meet the demands of the industry. This can be disastrous.

Are the employees bonded and insured? Does that protect the family in case of theft or accidents? What type of training does the company provide to employees? This is an important question if you have an aging senior with a disease specific diagnosis such as dementia, vision or hearing impaired, diabetes etc.

Does the agency offer a free home health care consultation by a registered nurse prior to start of service? If you are considering custodial services this may not be considered part of the services offered. When it is, consider it an extra bonus. A professional nurse adds a different perspective and may be able to recommend a higher level of care when needed.

Does the agency provide a plan of care in writing for clients? How much say does the family have in the plan of care? These two questions are very important on many levels. A written plan of care gives everyone goals and expectations. The family involvement in developing the plan of care gives the aging senior and caregiver a sense of control over the situation. This also gives the family a clear understanding of the expectations of the duties that will be preformed and something to refer to so that there is no confusion about those duties.

There are many questions to ask an in home health care agency about senior home care. Asking those questions Taking the time and investigating resources can keep the aging senior in your life at home for as long as possible.

Diane Carbo Registered Nurse has more than thirty five years in the nursing field. Her experience as a geriatric care manager, makes her uniquely qualified to help those who want to live out their lives in their own homes. That decision may be made when you are 20, 30, 40 or in fact at any age, with sooner rather than later being ideal. Diane has developed a web site to make people aware of issues and options. You will find extensive helpful information that will be continually updated. Please visit Diane’s web site and learn more about questions you should ask the home health care agency. Sign up for “The Caring Advocate” her free newsletter and take advantage of a complimentary e-course Advocating For Yourself and Others

10 Tips For Choosing the Perfect In-Home Health Care Agency

When caring for your aging parent or loved one becomes overwhelming and you need a break, or when extra help is needed with bathing, feeding, dressing, household duties or if caring for them yourself is just not possible anymore, selecting an in-home health care provider is a good alternative.

Proper screening is essential to ensure that the person you choose has, not only the skills to provide excellent care, but also the right personality for the job. Consider these tips and hints and you will find that hiring an in-home heath care provider does not have to be stressful.

1. Evaluate Your Loved One’s Needs
While some older adults just need assistance with basic living skills, others have additional health care needs that require a special skill set. Therefore, it is necessary to make a list of all of the duties that an in-home health care professional will need to provide so you can narrow down the list of candidates early on. If you are hiring through an agency, give them as much information from the start so they can match you up with someone who possesses all of knowledge and capabilities to give the best care possible to your loved one.
If your home health care worker will be assisting with bathing or dressing, it is important to discuss this with your loved one to make sure that they are comfortable with the gender of the companion. Women or men may become embarrassed when opposite gendered health care workers assist them with personal care and this may cause bath time to become stressful.

2. Speak With Local Experts
Before you go to the yellow pages or check out the classifieds for home heath aids, speak with neighbors, doctors, and elder care providers locally who can give you some recommendations and advice. Find out where other families have found in-home help and have them tell you about their experience. An administrator at a local nursing home may also have some suggestions for you on where to locate the best care giver. Support groups are a wealth of information, as well.

3. Create a Job Description
When you are ready to begin speaking with applicants and conducting interviews, start by writing a job description. The job duties can serve as talking points for your interview and also give the applicants a clear picture of what will be required of them.

4. Prepare Interview Questions
If you are not experienced at conducting formal interviews, you will benefit greatly by having a prepared list of questions. It will help you stay in control of the interview, not miss any key points, and make the best use of your time. Write it all down.

5. Outline an Employment Contract
Even if the person you select comes highly recommended and you and your family really hit it off with them, make sure to remain professional. This includes having them sign a contract that outlines your expectations, their duties, as well as boundaries. You can then refer back to the contract should a situation arise in the future. Often Home Health Agencies prepare the contracts themselves. Be sure to read them carefully and add anything that you wish to be included.

6. Personally Screen Candidates
Since the person you hire will be spending time alone with your parent or loved one, it is essential that you approve them yourself. Having an agency just send someone over is not acceptable in this situation. Even if they can paint a picture of a candidate’s qualifications, because the job of health care provider is so intimate, personality is equally as important. If your loved one is able to participate in the interview, that is ideal. Regardless, they should spend some time together to make sure that they click.

7. Conduct a Background Check
Do not trust your intuition. When you think that you have found the person you want to hire, do conduct a background check to make sure that the person you hire does not have a questionable past.

8. Check References
Even if this is their first job in the field of health care, every applicant should be able to provide references. Ideally, these should come from past employers. Otherwise, professors, internship supervisors, and personal references can also be used.

9. Protect Your Home and Family
Since the health care provider you hire will most likely have free access to your home, possessions, and family members, find out if they are bonded. It they are not bonded themselves, find out if the agency that you hired them from is. Remember not to leave credit cards, checkbooks and personal papers in unsecured areas.

10. Stay Involved
Your job is not over once the contract is signed and employment has begun. The more of a presence you have in your loved one’s life the better. Even if you can not be there in person, scheduling telephone meetings can let the health care provider know that you are involved and on top of things. Ask for progress reports and find out if there are any difficulties. Since the health care provider is around your loved one the most, they can give you the best information about their physical health as well as their state of mind.

One way to stay involved is to use a caregiver’s organizer (which we just happen to offer on our website). The Caregiver’s Companion is an organizational tool that has sections for personal information, family history, medications and side effects, medical appointments, and home health care workers notes. I hate selling, but this IS a very good tool in my opinion.

Shelley Webb has been a registered nurse for almost 30 years, with experience in the fields of neonatal intensive care, dialysis, case management and elder care. When her father came to live with her in 2005, the advantages of her medical experience became clear. Due to his dementia and congestive heart failure, her father was not able to care for himself alone any longer and so she took over these duties.

Having experienced the helplessness, frustration, overwhelm and even loneliness that care giving for an aging parent brings, Shelley is well aware of the emotional and educational support that caregivers need and so she began The Intentional Caregiver web site. With its weekly newsletter, daily news updates and monthly audio interviews of experts in elder care and supporting services, Shelley strives to encourage and educate caregivers so that they can be empowered to provide the best possible care for themselves while caring for their aging loved one(s).

Home Health Care History

The early nineteenth century witnessed the initial stages of the home health care industry that offered qualified nurses to take care of the poor and sick in their homes. In 1909 when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company started to write policies that comprised of home health care, this industry became very popular. This company is credited for paying the first compensation for home health care industry. This gave rise to the birth of organized home health care.

The Great Depression in 1929 caused several businesses along with home care industry a lot of hindrances and struggle. This went on till the follow-up visits made by nurses after hospital discharge became reimbursable by the Medicare Act of 1966. The home care industry became most feasible and practical when Medicare in an attempt to reduce hospitalization costs set up DRG’s program (Diagnostic Related Group). This laid down that some disease or hospital practice needed a certain stay period. So the discharged patients were more sick compared to their DRG counterparts.

The story does not finish with DRGs. This in fact was the commencement of patient care vs. medical ethics debate. This subject shall be soon addressed in the present health care reform segment. The price of health care is the issue. Questions like how much does a human life cost and how long one should pay for keeping alive a person after he ceases to be a contributor to the society need to be addressed.

Home health care industry needs to answer these questions. The main intention of the DRG programs was to cut down the hospital stay in order to lower hospitalization costs. Thus this becomes a challenge to the agencies. But gradually home care started becoming expensive. The Balanced Budge Act of 1997 hand one major side effect. It limited the benefit days to the patients under home health care thereby lowering the compensations to the various home health care agencies. This resulted in many of these agencies going out of business.

The price to take care of a patient will always stay an issue. There was a growth of nosocomial diseases in hospitals that lead to heavy health care costs. Patients started getting discharged in a much sicker condition than before. This put additional burden on the family of the patient to make available good care once the family member is home. Also majority of the people were working. Home health care agencies that provide services were unable to discharge patients when they exceed their Medicare days if they are in a bad condition or its not safe to depart from them without any nursing services.

In case the home care agency declines admission of a patient who seems sicker than the number of reimbursement days allowed by the government, the patients’ family does not have too many choices. In case of the patient being discharged without any adequate follow-up care, the patients’ family can seek services of a qualified agency that could strain on emergency room visits and re-hospitalization leading to more compensation issues. Such questions are difficult to answer more so in cases where cost is to be taken care of. But, as time passes, such questions will continue to haunt till there are satisfactory answers to them.

The Benefits Of Home Health Care

It can be extremely overwhelming to have a family member that requires constant care. A lot of us simply don’t have the time or the facilities to be on-hand at all times even though we might want to. You may experience feelings of guilt that you can’t do all that your family member needs and can’t be with them all the time. However, you are not alone. Today, millions of adults across the word are finding themselves in a position where they are juggling taking care of older relatives or parents and their own lives and career. Many people struggle so you shouldn’t feel ashamed or guilty about your inability to do everything.

It can be hard to get the balance right between doing all you can for your elderly relative and looking after your own needs and this is why many people turn to home health care to help lighten the load. Home health care is a great way to ensure that you get the respite you need while making sure that your relative or parent is still looked after. In many cases, home health care is a necessity for families as it allows the career to get enough rest to ensure that they will be able to look after the elderly relative properly in the future.

There are many benefits involved in hiring home health care. The main advantage is that the person in question will be receiving the very best care possible. These people are trained medical staff and now how to look after your relative or parent properly. They will have years of experience and a wealth of expertise in dealing with emergency health situations so you really can trust them.

As well as providing essential medical care, home health care professionals will give the social interaction that your loved one really craves. No-one likes to be left on their own for long periods of time, and as much as they will love talking to you, they will also really enjoy interacting with other people. For some, home health care is their only connection to the world and without they feel lost.

The chances are you won’t always be available to help your loved one with their meals. If you worry that they aren’t eating nutritiously, that they aren’t eating at all or that they are skipping their medication then home health care could help. A member of staff can help your loved one with meal times and ensure that take their medication at the right times throughout the day.

Home health care workers can also help with any transport issues you may be having with your loved one. If you can’t get to them to take them to the doctors or any other appointment then they can do this for you and make sure that they get their safely.

There are so many more benefits to hiring home health care but the main one being that some of the pressure is taken off you and you can get back on track with your own life and responsibilities. Home health care really is a practical alternative to attempting to take on everything yourself. Home health care really can be a godsend for those people who don’t need continuous nursing help but who want to be cared for in the comfort of their own home. Most people feel most comfortable at home as it is the place where their family and friends can come and visit them and sometimes familiar surroundings can help aid recovery time. Home health care services vary depending on the personal needs of the person needing the care. For some, they just need some companion care whilst other suffer from more serious illnesses and require more complex medical monitoring.