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)

Elderly Care – Medical Vs Non-Medical Home Health Care – Discover What You Need

Medical Home Health Care vs. Non-medical Home Health Care…if you are reading this, you are likely among the thousands of caregivers needing help caring for a loved one at home. What is the difference?

One significant difference is who pays the bill… you or insurance?

With a doctors order and insurance that is accepted by the agency and covers home care, these services are generally covered. Medical home care provides skilled medical services such as:

Registered Nurse
Physical Therapy
Occupational Therapy
Speech Therapy
Home Health Aid
Medical Social Worker

These medical personnel can only come to your home by an order from the doctor. This can be initiated by a trip to the doctor, a call to the doctor and sometimes a call to a home care agency explaining your difficulty. They can then contact the doctor.

Several questions need to be answered at this point to help you decide what you need.

Is the patient recently home from the hospital?
Is the patient falling at home?
Are you confused about what medications to give the patient?
Is there a significant change in functional ability or decline in activity level recently?
Is the patient frequently going to the ER?

Yes to 2 or more of the above questions may indicate a potential need for medical home health care.

Discussing your felt need with your doctor will help you understand the issues and the answers.

Non-medical home care

If you and your doctor have ruled out the need for medical home care but you still feel you need some help, consider non-medical home care. Non-medical care means just that. Non medical. These services are often referred to as companion services.

Your best bet is to Google “home health assistance” or the like. You can always call a business and ask if they provide non-medical home care assistance. Beware though, most medical home care company’s WILL provide solely a home health aid but at a ridiculous price. You may find better rates by hiring a company who provides only non-medical home care assistance. This is what they do best and they generally do it well.

Do your homework and use your phone. Ask the agency how long their workers have been there. Don’t be afraid to pay a little more if you feel you are following your gut. You are depending on these people to give you or your loved one the proper care and respect that they need and deserve.