The graying of America due to aging baby boomers has focused more attention on senior home care. For many individuals and their families this care can mean the difference between seniors staying in the comfort of their own home or moving into assisted living or a nursing home. Today's senior home care providers bring health care and support services to millions of individuals suffering with physical disabilities, chronic medical conditions, various forms of dementia or a terminal illness. Home Care services focus on assisting seniors with their daily activities rather than providing medical care (medical care at home is provided by home health care services.)
Making a home care provider part of your family's senior home care plan is a big step that should not be taken lightly. Finding the right provider requires patience, a little bit of common sense and knowing what to look for. Here are 7 guidelines for finding the right home senior care provider.
- Be sure any home senior care provider you are considering is properly licensed. This licensure guarantees the agency and/or its employees have the necessary qualifications to provide the requested services. Licensed providers are not only monitored by the state they also can evaluate a senior's home care needs, alter the services offered depending on the person's situation and send another staff member if the regular home care provider is not available for their shift. A list of licensed home care providers is available by contacting your state's Department of Health.
- Make sure the services you need are included. Not all home care providers are the same. That is why it is important to find one who offers the services that best suit your senior's needs. While most providers supply a listing of their services don't leave anything to chance. When interviewing prospects tell them the specific type of senior home care you are interested in and ask if they can accommodate your requests.
- Service Hours. If overnight care is required you will need a home care provider who offers 24/7 service. This type of care may be performed by one person or in shifts by several individuals.
- Emergency Procedures. Accidents and emergencies happen. When they do families want to know that those who are caring for their loved ones will react calmly and responsibly. A competent home care provider will have established procedures in place for handling any crisis or urgent situation. A copy of those procedures should be made available to family members.
- Having a Care plan. Look for a home senior care provider that solicits input from the patient and their families when designing an individual's care plan. That plan should detail the client's treatment and how it will be administered, what services will be provided and how they will be delivered and how often the care plan should be reviewed and updated.
- Method of payment is another important consideration. Most home care providers' services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid, workers' compensation, private or group health insurances or military benefits. In all other cases arrangements for private payment must be established.
- Do your homework. Get the names of several home care providers and gather as much information about the services they provide and their professional reputation. Ask for-and check-references, such as physicians, friends or family members who are familiar with the provider. Word-of-mouth recommendations tend to be the most reliable. When in doubt a background check can be performed for a nominal fee.