Choosing a Home Care Provider – 6 Must Know Tips

November is National Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Care Month, a time to celebrate our clinicians, but also a time to educate our community about these important services.

This week we are focusing on home care and what you should know when choosing a home care provider.  You always have a choice for your home care provider, so here are some helpful tips to help you prepare for your future health care needs.

Challenges associated with the process of aging impact not only the individual, but their families as well. Often, the most difficult situation to arise is when a person needs more care than what family members can provide.

Home care can provide a range of services including nursing, rehab and social work services.  This type of skilled care is ordered by your doctor, hospital or rehabilitation facility and are typically covered by insurance.  Other services include private duty services such as housekeeping, transportation, meal preparation, respite and personal care. These services are typically not covered by insurance, but allow patients to remain in their homes where they can be more comfortable and independent.

If you or a loved one are considering home care services, here are some factors to consider when selecting a provider.

Create a list of needs

Before you contact prospective home care providers, The Home Care, Hospice & Palliative Care Alliance of New Hampshire notes it is important to determine what type of care is needed. While some people might just need an extra hand with meal preparation or transportation to and from doctor’s visits, a family member being discharged from a stay in a hospital might need more skilled nursing or rehabilitative assistance. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests creating a list of specific care needs, like getting dressed or using the bathroom, and including expectations about how needs will be met.

Prepare questions

When you meet with a potential home care provider, be ready with any questions you might have. These can include things like:

  • What is the cost for the services I need?
  • How long have you been providing services?
  • Are you Medicare certified?
  • How do you handle holidays or weekends?
  • What kind of training and certification do the employees have?
  • What happens if a staff member is unable to work that day?
  • Is there after-hours care for emergencies?
  • Are staff members trained to handle dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Check references and licenses

The Better Business Bureau notes that all providers must be licensed and that consumers should ask for licensing information and verify it. If a provider cannot provide any registration or licensing information, it should be an immediate red flag. It’s also a good idea to ask if the provider conducts background checks on its individual caregivers. Whenever possible, talk with others who have worked with the home care provider you are considering.

Get a written plan

The agency you select should provide you with a written plan explaining in detail what services will be provided by the home care agency, a schedule of care, and information about costs. If there are limits on the types of services that can be provided, those should be spelled out. There ought to also be an explanation of the rights and responsibilities of the caregiver, the patient and the home care agency.

Determine payment options

Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance will usually pay for skilled home health care services that are provided by a nurse or therapist when ordered by a doctor. According to Medicare, eligible home health services include things like intermittent skilled nursing care, physical and occupational therapy and speech-language pathology services. There might also be services not covered by insurance. For services that are not covered, you should discuss payment arrangements with the provider.

Enlist support

More than 90 million Americans care for loved ones who are elderly, have chronic conditions, disabilities or disease, and home care can be a great solution for when a person wants to stay at home but needs care that cannot be easily or effectively provided solely by family and friends. Even after professional home health care services begin, patients are likely to still need assistance and support from other family members, or from private duty services.  Educating yourself about available options for you or a loved one will help you make informed decisions when the time is right for care at home.

Cornerstone VNA is proud to be your local home care organization, providing a wide array of services and specialized care, such as wound care, IV therapy and telehealth.  As a nonprofit, we are dedicated to providing additional resources to patients and their families through volunteer support, caregiver support, and educational programs.  When considering home care services for yourself or your loved ones, we encourage you to call our clinical experts to find the care that’s right for you.  To learn more about our award-winning programs and services, explore our website or call us 800-691-1133.

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