Home Health Care Providers: Finding the Right One for You

care advisorHome health care providers offer skilled nursing care in a home setting. Home health care is not the same as home care; home health care requires a doctor’s order, and is provided by trained professionals (often nurses or nurses’ aides) who are monitored and managed through the agency you hire.

It is imperative to thoroughly research home health care providers before you hire one. While all home health care agencies must meet rigorous standards, all agencies are not created equal. Use the following checklists to help you determine which home health care provider best suits your needs.

How to Find Home Health Care Providers

  • Call your state ombudsman’s office and ask for referrals.
  • Talk to your doctor, hospital discharge planner or geriatric care manager.
  • Use Medicare’s Home Health Compare tool, which enables you to find and compare Medicare-certified home health care providers.

How to Screen Home Health Care Providers

  • What kind of skills do your caregivers have?
  • Do you provide ongoing training? In what areas and how frequently?
  • Do you pay for referrals or have referral-fee arrangements with any long-term care facilities?
  • If my mom doesn’t like her caregiver, can you send someone else?
  • Will my mom have the same caregiver every time?
  • How do you monitor my mom’s care?
  • What is your process for care planning and how often do you perform reassessments?
  • Will my mom’s medications be reviewed during the assessment?
  • Can I schedule visits when it’s convenient for my mom?
  • Are your caregivers available 24 hours a day?
  • How long will it take to arrange home health care services?
  • When will I receive the documented care plan?
  • Do you have professional liability coverage?
  • Do you have worker’s compensation insurance?
  • Are the caregivers bonded and insured?
  • Do you accept my insurance? Will you bill my insurance provider directly?
  • What services do you provide?
  • Besides the caregiver’s hourly rate, what other costs are involved?

Before You Hire a Home Health Care Provider

  • Find and interview at least two agencies.
  • Ask each agency for several references and be sure to check them.
  • Determine the services you require and find out how much they will cost.
  • Ask about the protocol for when your caregiver is sick, late or doesn’t show.
  • Get a phone number and name, if possible, of a person at the agency that you can reach after business hours in case of emergency.
  • Check your local Department of Aging Services and the Better Business Bureau for complaints lodged against the agencies.

Once you’ve located a home health care provider who you’re ready to hire, make sure you are proactive about keeping the lines of communication open.

In the event that you experience an issue with the caregiver, or the care being provided, know whom you should contact at the agency to help you resolve the problem. If that doesn’t work, call your long-term ombudsman’s office for help.

Written by senior care writer Nikki Jong.