There comes a time in life, at least in the lives of those fortunate enough to grow old, when independence is no longer possible. Some people will accept this and plan for a future in which they will require assistance. Unfortunately most people don’t accept the idea of elder care. And the responsibility for dealing with the needs of an elderly or disabled loved one often falls on the family members.
Where do you start if your parent has reached the point of requiring assistance, but still wants to stay home?
First you have to decide what type of services are needed.
- Skilled care – This is the highest level of care and the services most likely to be covered by insurance, especially Medicare. Procedures such as wound care, infusion therapy, physical or occupational therapy which require the presence of a nurse or therapist fall into this category.
- Personal care – When your loved one can no longer handle the activities that we all do on a daily basis, such as bathing, dressing, eating, going to the bathroom, a caregiver can help. They can assist with these and other daily tasks, such as taking walks and getting to appointments. This may be covered by Medicare.
- Custodial care – This is basically housekeeping, cleaning, laundry and cooking. Medicare does not cover this service.
You probably have a good idea of what is needed for your loved one’s elder care, but you should talk to the doctor as well. And if your loved one is being discharged from the hospital or rehabilitation center, the doctors, the discharge planner and the social workers should be able to help you decide. They will also have the names of local home healthcare agencies that you can contact.
Medicare has a website that may help you choose. https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/About/Agencies-Listed.html
The website at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice will also be useful. http://www.nahcagencylocator.com/
Once you have your list of agencies that offer in home elder care, you need to decide which agency to select. The health professionals involved with your loved one can make recommendations, but you will need to make the final decision. The next step is to make a list of the information that you are going to need.
Before you start making calls, check out the agency’s website to gain some insight into their level of professionalism and their philosophy regarding elder care.
Here are some questions that each agency should be able to answer for you.
- What elder care services are provided? If they do not have the type of home healthcare your loved one needs, you can cross them off the list right there.
- How long have they been providing these services? An older agency with a dependable track record may be a better choice than a new group.
- Do they have a list of recommendations and references from the people they serve and from health professionals? You might want to call a few of the people on these lists.
- Are they certified by Medicare? If the service is covered by Medicare, you must deal with an agency that is Medicare certified.
- Are they contracted with Medicaid? This is important if your loved one is covered by Medicaid.
- Are they licensed by the state? Each state has requirements that the agencies must meet in order to maintain their license. Picking a licensed agency is not a guarantee of quality, but it helps.
- Who does the evaluation of your loved one’s needs? Are they trained professionals such as nurses or therapists? When making this evaluation do they talk to the family and the doctor? Do they take the patient’s preferences and concerns into consideration?
- How do they develop a plan of care? Again do they include your loved one, the family and the doctor in the decision making? Will there be a written plan that you can see?
- Will there be a case worker or supervisor assigned to oversee your loved one’s care? What are the qualifications f this supervisor? Does this person have expertise in elder care? How many visits per month will the supervisor make? Will you be able to call the supervisor with concerns or questions? If not the supervisor, who do you call if you have a complaint?
- What are the procedures they follow to resolve patient or family complaints?
- Can they meet any specialized needs your loved one may have? For example is language a problem?
- How is the staff trained? Do they run background checks on every employee?
- Does the agency have pamphlets or other literature outlining their policies and procedures, financial requirements, patients’ rights, staff qualifications and other pertinent information?
- What are their policies regarding confidentiality?
- What are their fees? How much is covered by insurance? Are there discounts for people who have to pay out of their own pockets? What kind of payment plans are available? Will you get a written statement that outlines your financial obligations with explanations?
- What about emergencies? If an urgent problem arises at 3 AM on a Sunday morning, will there be someone available to help?
The answers to these questions will help you to narrow the list. Then make an appointment to talk to a representative at each of the remaining agencies to clear up any further concerns or questions, pick up literature and to make your own personal evaluation.
Keystone In Home Care has a website with valuable information that you are invited to use. http://www.keystoneinhomecare.com/senior-caregiver-resources/
You will find that most home healthcare agencies will be patient and receptive to your call. They know that you have to make an informed decision to find the best way to keep your loved one at home, safe and happy.
At Keystone In-Home Care, we provide well trained, friendly caregivers who can help meet your goal of keeping your loved one at home and happy for as long as possible. We understand the importance of supporting the family caregiver as well as the aging senior. Your health and happiness are important, too. You will rest better knowing that the one you love is safe and comfortable in their own, clean and healthy home.