Preserving independence is a primary concern for senior citizens and people with disabilities, yet they often are reluctant to admit they need assistance to remain at home.
Often, help from family or facilities may be unavailable or cost-prohibitive. For many, the ideal solution has been home care.
Why home care?
Home care includes medical or non-medical services provided in a client's own home. Services may include companionship, meal preparation and light housekeeping.
For clients with health problems, aides can assist with tasks such as bathing. For more complex cases, skilled nursing may be required.
Thanks to modern technology, many procedures that once required expensive hospitalization now are safe and cost-effective to perform at home.
Choosing a provider
There are many things to consider when choosing a home care provider. Quite often people focus solely on price while neglecting to ask about safety and supervision.
The following will help you ask the right questions to ensure you get the answers you need to choose the provider that's right for you:
How are employees selected?
Are employees fully insured?
Are employees subject to criminal and reference checks?
Is the agency accredited?
How are employees supervised?
How are scheduling problems handled?
How is the care plan determined?
How is insurance and billing handled?
Standards of excellence
Knowing how employees are selected is crucial because they will be coming into your home.
Reputable agencies have stringent hiring standards, which include checking references, criminal background and work experience.
Ask how an agency supports its employees, handles call-outs, and deals with after-hours problems. Is each client assigned a staff supervisor (who coordinates services) and a nursing supervisor (who supervises care)? Is there an on-call supervisor to handle after-hours calls?
Understand how insurance payments and billing will be handled. Does the agency contact insurance companies directly and handle all the billing? If you will pay for services yourself, ask how taxes will be paid, if Worker's Comp insurance is provided, and whether additional charges apply for weekends, nights, and holidays.
Accreditation also is important. The Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) is the leader in home care accreditation. If an agency is accredited by CHAP, it means that they comply with national standards for safety.
Peace of mind
For many, home care is the best way to preserve independence and remain at home. By conducting research before hiring an agency, you'll feel better about your decision and ensure that your experience is positive.
For more information, contact Bayada Nurses at 883-5600.
Lehman, a registered nurse, is associate director of Bayada Nurses, Pittston.