There are few decisions that are as important as selecting a home care provider for yourself or a loved one. If you require medical attention and need home health care, this decision may be even more crucial. If the time is right to begin your search, you owe it to yourself or your loved one to put research and thought into making your choice. Here are some things to consider along the way.
Look for an Agency with a Long Track Record of Serving Your Community
An agency that has been serving your community for many years is more likely to be familiar with nearby medical professionals and local resources that can benefit you or your loved one. There are a few ways that you can go about finding a well established, local provider. First, try asking your family physician for referrals or contacting your local Area Agency On Aging for home health care providers to consider. You can also make direct contact with an agency that interests you and ask directly about how long that provider has been in business.
Look for an Agency that is Certified by a National Accrediting Body
The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is one example of a highly respected accrediting body that works with home care agencies. By receiving certification from such an accrediting body, an agency has committed to upholding specific standards and training processes, and it has agreed to follow strict regulations put in place by the accrediting body. This provides an extra layer of protection to you and your loved one, and it it gives you a place to turn to if you feel that high standards are not being met.
Discuss the Plan of Care
The plan of care is a written and / or verbal outline explaining how the company will assist in meeting you or your loved one’s needs. The plan of care process should include input from your healthcare provider, the nursing and therapy staff at the agency, social workers, and family members, if possible. Make sure the plan of care is an open dialogue and will be revised as necessary. Also, make sure the agency has measures in place to ensure all agency representatives will follow the steps outlined in the plan of care.
Understand the Supervision Process
While everyone hopes that everything will work out perfectly with a home care worker, sometimes it is necessary to turn to a supervisor with questions or for assistance. A high quality home care company will have a specific process in place for supervision, and it should involve a supervisor making contact with the family and visiting the home for audits if necessary. The supervisor should understand agency standards, and he or she should be responsible for ensuring that all staff adhere to those standards. In addition, a supervisor should make sure that care is always available to the family, per the plan of care, if the family’s normal worker should call out sick or otherwise be delayed in getting to an assignment.
Consider Payment Options Available Through the Agency
Some agencies only accept private pay from customers, and other agencies will accept Medicare or other insurance plans, when applicable. Understanding how an agency expects to be paid can help you to budget accordingly, and it can prevent surprise fees from arising while care is being offered.
A Few Additional Questions
As you conduct your search, you may wish to consider additional factors above and beyond what we’ve discussed in this article. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of questions that any reputable home health care provider should be able to answer in a satisfactory way.
- Do you have printed marketing materials, such as brochures, that explain your services and their costs?
- Are you approved by Medicaid and/or Medicare?
- Do you offer any financial assistance or help based on ability to pay?
- If required – do you have a license to practice?
- Do you have a “Patients’ Bill of Rights”? May I see it?
- Will your staff be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if necessary?
- Can you explain your recruiting, screening, hiring practices for caregivers?
- What steps do you take to ensure confidentiality for your patients?
- Can you provide references for the caregiver that I will be assigned?
- Who do I contact if I have questions or complaints about my / my loved one’s care?
- Who will you contact if the home health care worker cannot is sick or otherwise unable to keep a scheduled appointment?
If you are considering using an agency to assist with you or your loved one’s home health care needs, taking the time to research these important topics can help you to make an educated decision. Meet with an agency representative at home before initiating services, and take the time to discuss these topics and thoroughly explain your family’s needs. By doing so, you can feel confident in your final selection, providing you with peace of mind about the safety and security of you or your loved one.