Caring for our loved ones when they have a chronic condition, when they require extra attention as a result of advanced aging or when a family caregiver needs respite can lead us to consider hiring home care help. How do we select home care help and make sure that our loved ones will continue to receive compassionate, respectful and appropriate care?
Carol Marak, an older adult and family caregiver advocate, shares some tips to help families find and select competent and supportive home care.
Thank you, Carol, for your great tips!
How to Select Home Care Help
Adult children and seniors must learn how to read the ratings of home care agencies prior to hiring a home helper.
The CMS, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to guide consumers when comparing and selecting a home care agency.
Most states do not require home care agencies to have a license or to receive certification. But if a home care agency offers home health, like nursing care, then the company must follow applicable laws, regulations, and state compliance issues.
Even though you’re hiring for in-home care and not home health care, CMS suggests that consumers should follow the same requirements and ask questions designed for the Five-Star Quality Rating System. Learn how Medicare measures the quality of data.
Check the Qualifications of the Caregiver Agency
Here’s a list of the questions to ask a home care agency when you are ready to hire a professional caregiver.
1. Does the agency have a state license? If one exists, request to read and review it.
2. Does Medicare approve and certify the home care firm? Remember, only home health care agencies, the ones offering nursing care, will receive Medicare certification.
3. How does the care company hire and screen the staff?
4. Ask for client references. Ask for a list of physicians, discharge planners, and geriatric care managers who have worked with the agency.
5. Ask health care professionals, family members and friends for professional caregiving recommendations.
6. How does the care company train the caregivers?
7. Does the agency staff receive continuing education? If so, what kind of training?
8. Are the staff supervised? By whom?
9. What factors evaluate the home care helper?
10. What is the improvement program?
11. Do the agency’s employees seem friendly and helpful? Make sure you feel comfortable with the agency’s representatives.
Questions to Ask about the Caregiver
1. Does the caregiver/home helper have a proper attitude?
2. Is the home help aide friendly?
3. Are you comfortable with the caregiver?
4. Is the care aide certified?
5. Is the caregiver insured?
6. Does the assistant receive ongoing training? If so, what kind and what topics?
7. Does the helper receive continuing education?
Types of Services Given by a Home Care Company
1. Will you receive a written care plan before service begins? Make sure the doctor gets involved.
2. Obtain a copy of the patient’s bill of rights.
3. Will a nutritionist, dietitian, counselor, therapist or another specialist be referred if needed?
4. How does the care provider include your family members and health care providers?
5. Are limits set on the types of tasks performed?
6. When will service be provided? Is care available round-the-clock, when needed?
7. What procedures are in place for emergencies?
8. How are problems addressed and resolved?
9. Whom can you contact with requests, questions or complaints?
10. When can services begin?
After you hire a home care company, stay on top of the services they give and monitor closely. If concerned, discuss it immediately with the agency or home health aide.
About the author
Carol Marak is a contributor for the senior living and health care market. She advocates older adults and family caregivers by writing on tough topics like chronic issues, senior care and housing. Find her work at AssistedLivingFacilities.org and HomeHealthcareAgencies.com and contact Carol on LinkedIn and Carol@SeniorCareQuest.com.