What Should I Look for When Choosing Home Health Care?
Guest Post by Nicholas Rubright
As your parent or loved one gets older, you may notice signs that they need home care assistance. Maybe they are having memory problems, or they are no longer able to keep up with day to day tasks like housekeeping, bathing, and preparing meals. These are all good indicators that your loved one could use some extra help. Choosing a home care assistant can be challenging. You want someone who gives the best assistance possible for your loved one, but it can be difficult to know if you are making the correct choice for them.
Here are 10 things to look for before you make a decision.
1. Reviews and References
Some companies may sound good on paper, but it is important to check for references. Gather a list of companies in your area and visit each website. Read the reviews and patient testimonials.
Ask your family and friends, neighbors, coworkers, an elder law attorney, or anyone you trust if they have experience with a loved one receiving care from the agencies you’re considering—and what their experiences have been like.
If you are worried about the legitimacy of the reviews, you can check if they are accurate with the Better Business Bureau or with a third-party website. You can even use a plagiarism checker to see if the same review has been posted on multiple sites.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
2. Care Certification and Licenses
Before you hire a company, it’s important to make sure that each staff member and the company are licensed. Read about your state’s specific requirements and double check that the agencies are legitimate and regularly monitored.
Typically, only certified licensed personnel are allowed to administer medications. This includes everything from prescription painkillers to CBD oil, like nurses can administer.
3. Screening Procedures
Who exactly is taking care of your loved one? How do they vet potential caregivers? You want to check if the agencies perform thorough background checks on their caretakers, including local and national criminal records, before you make a decision on an agency.
Ask if they conduct drug screening, and how often they screen current caretakers.
A good caretaker should be compassionate, trustworthy, attentive to your loved one’s needs, patient, and respectful.
4. Caregiver Training
Proper training is a necessity for adequate care. Some states require more hours of training than others for caregivers to receive certification. Look up what the requirements are for your state, ask them questions to check their knowledge, and make sure their caregivers are able to provide first aid, CPR, and other treatments related to your loved one’s health.
The caregivers should be able to assist with walking and transferring from bed to wheelchair, assisting with using the toilet and incontinence care, and providing medication reminders.
They should give status reports to you and your family regularly. If they fail to do these things, it can be considered elder neglect. Improving your loved one’s home by removing clutter and perhaps replacing heavy decor that may fall with custom tapestries or posters may also help them move around the house freely when a caregiver isn’t available.
5. Replacement Caretaker Options and Procedures
Your loved one will most likely require more than one caregiver to assist them, especially if they require assistance around the clock. The company that you choose should have a replacement procedure in place to cover their employees’ vacations and work-hour limitations.
At night when your loved one needs to rest, if they are not receiving 24-hour care, they are likely to be alone. They may get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom or get a glass of water, putting them at risk for falls or other accidents.
Having a medical alert necklace or bracelet can be useful to ensure they get immediate care if an accident occurs.
6. Caregiver Supervision
You may want to ask how they will supervise the caregivers assigned to your loved one to prevent the possibility of elder abuse. Some agencies may use cameras, or they may have a trained nurse supervising the visits.
Once you choose an agency, make sure you regularly check in with your loved one to make sure they feel safe and are satisfied with the care they are receiving.
7. Financial Planning
COVID-19 has affected many things and devastated so many families. It has especially affected the cost of in-home care and assisted living.
According to this survey, the median annual cost of in-home care in the U.S. in 2020 was $54,912 for a home health aide and $53,768 for a homemaker. The lowest hourly rate for a home health aide was $17 in Louisiana, and the highest was $33 in Minnesota.
It can be hard to figure out how to afford proper care for your loved one, but there are ways to find financial assistance for long-term care. Learning finance basics on your own will also help you make a more informed decision and help you with your own retirement plans.
8. Caregiver Selection
It can be hard to talk about preferences when it comes to caregivers, but they are necessary to ensure your loved one’s home care experience is a good one. They should provide caregivers who have experience handling specific conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Your loved one may be more comfortable with a caregiver of a specific gender, or they might need someone who speaks a particular language or is knowledgeable about their culture.
9. COVID-19 Precautions
With COVID being a persistent presence in our lives and seniors being at an increased risk of complications or dying from COVID-19, ask what health and safety measures are in place to protect your loved one.
Some methods might include daily health screenings to check for fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, vomiting, or chills, and whether the caregivers have had exposure to anyone who has tested positive with the disease.
You should also inquire on how they handle caring for elders showing symptoms of COVID, or elders who are confirmed to have COVID.
10. Interview the Agencies
Once you have narrowed down the options to three agencies, give them a call and set up in-person interviews to cover any further questions or concerns you may have. This will ease any second thoughts and help you make the best choice going forward.