Over the years, we surround ourselves with memories and a collection of things that speak to us of home. No wonder that many seniors and disabled adults choose to remain in the comfort of their familiar surroundings when the need for care arises.
But selecting care providers and managing their care can be a challenging process; some people prefer to utilize the services of an in-home care agency. Various options exist within the realm of Agency Home Care. Some provide Hospice services; some Home Care Agencies are required by law to have nurses, CNAs or other licensing—a more expensive option, but one that may work well for clients requiring healthcare assistance but not wanting to move into a nursing facility.
Care agencies free their clients from the burden of managing in-home care—they take care of the entire process, from caregiver selection and developing a care plan, to managing schedules and handling adjustments. In-home care agencies can provide assistance with activities of daily living, such as:
- Bathing, dressing and grooming
- Personal and toilet hygiene; bowel and bladder care
- Mobility or transferring from one area to another
- Feeding and eating
- Assistance with memory or cueing
Home care agencies also provide assistance with instrumental activities of daily living such as:
- Cleaning and housework
- Medication Management
- Meal Preparation
In addition to providing personal care, agency care providers also help in other areas, such making arrangements for appointments, communicating with others, operating technical devices or simply providing companion care and someone to talk to. Regular visits by a care provider can give much-needed socialization and moral support to someone unable to easily leave their home.
Benefits of Using a Home Care Agency
You will have a lot of factors to consider after making the decision to remain home when care is needed. Developing a care plan, hiring a provider and creating schedules are just a few of a host of tasks required to ensure that a care arrangement is successful. The majority of us are inexperienced and unprepared for such an undertaking. This is where a Home Care Agency can help:
- Agencies recruit and train their own team of care providers. There’s no need to search for a competent provider yourself.
- Typically, an agency’s team of care providers is immediately available, allowing for assistance on short notice. Removing the recruitment process from your list also removes the long delay that can result from your search.
- Agencies run background checks on their caregivers, so anyone sent to your home has been pre-screened.
- Trained staff will help you evaluate your care needs and develop an appropriate care plan, and a schedule based on your needs.
- When care providers call in sick or leave employment, agencies can make arrangements for someone to fill in.
- Agencies handle all payroll, insurance and taxes, saving you the headache. You make one payment to them for the agreed upon hourly fee.
- Many have registered nurses that can provide care consultation and direction to care providers.
Tips on Selecting a Home Care Agency
As with individual care providers, it’s important to do your homework when deciding which home care agency to use for your care. You need to be confident that the agency you choose is managed well, has trained, competent care givers and monitors the activities of its employees and the progress of their clients. Here are some helpful tips to consider when choosing a care provider:
- Make sure to ask about the agency’s screening process. Some background checks are very cursory and can miss pertinent criminal history. Ensure that ALL care providers have undergone thorough background screenings—including county courthouse searches—to gain a more accurate picture of their history.
- Inquire about what type of training staff is provided, as agencies can vary greatly in this regard. Look for agencies that provide in-depth initial care giver orientation as well as regular ongoing care concepts training for continued skill development.
- Ask about their staffing levels and how they handle care providers who call in sick or are unavailable. Do they have sufficient staff to handle coverage for last minute backup needs, or if you have a sudden unexpected increase in care needs?
- Will you be able to choose which care giver you prefer to provide your care? Can you change care providers if someone is not a good fit? In order for your care relationship to be successful, it is important that you feel very comfortable and safe with the person providing your care. Look for agencies that are flexible and will work with you to find a good match for you or your loved one.
- How does the agency monitor a care giver’s performance as well as your care needs and health? Is there regular documentation or progress notes by the care giver? How often does agency management conduct home visits to oversee the quality of care provided?
- Does the agency retain registered nurses to provide client assessments, assist in care planning and/or conduct occasional consults?
- How does the agency handle their pricing and billing process? Will you receive a regular itemized statement explaining in detail what you’re being billed for? What is the policy for rate increases and how much notice will you get regarding these?
- Exactly which services will you receive, and will the agency provide a written “statement of work” detailing exactly what they will provide for the agreed upon payment rate?
- Can you have contact information for references?