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Homecare Conversation about Home Healthcare Services

By Crystal West Edwards, Esq., CELA

If you or a loved one need long-term care for a chronic illness or, as you age, if you need assistance with the tasks of daily living, you may be interested in home healthcare services.

Home healthcare services run the gamut: from medical care provided by nurses or physical therapists to household support such as dressing and bathing.

For individuals and families considering getting a home healthcare provider, I recommend the following checklist:

  1. Do your homework.

    Everyone’s situation is different and the care that you or a loved one may need will not be the same as someone else.

The cost of home healthcare can vary widely, depending upon whether you need hours of care each day from a nurse or just some help from a home healthcare aide with a few household tasks.

It’s also important for you to consider carefully what type of care is needed now and what type of care might be needed in the future.

You will want to talk with a number of home healthcare providers to get a sense of how they operate, what services they offer and what the cost of those services is. It’s important, too, to know if they can respond to changing care needs – or, if you find yourself needing additional care, if you would need to change providers.

2. Hire an agency.

While some people opt to hire an independent home healthcare aide directly, I strongly recommend finding your provider through an agency. An agency can help with:

  • Home healthcare assessments – Most agencies will have specialists trained in assessing home healthcare needs. They can help you determine what your needs are today and how they might change in the future.
  • Multiple levels of service – After returning home from a hospital stay, you may need the services of a nurse. But after you’re recovered, assistance with some daily tasks may be enough. Agencies typically offer various levels of home healthcare (at different costs) and can adjust to your needs in ways that an individual provider cannot.
  • Insurance – In order to be licensed by the state, agencies must meet certain requirements regarding the qualifications of the individual providers they employ. They are also required to carry insurance in case of an accident involving one of their employees or clients. This protects you.
  • Qualifications of caregivers – You may wish to ask what type of employee screening and background checks are done, if caregivers are licensed, insured and accredited, and if the agency can provide references. Also, you may consider asking for a list of doctors, hospital or rehab discharge planners or other professionals who have experience with the agency.
  • Employment contracts and employee taxes – It will be the agency’s responsibility to hire and terminate caregivers and to handle payments, payroll taxes and other legal responsibilities, so you don’t have to.
  • Training – Many agencies will provide on-going training for their employees, which enhances the quality of care that they can give. You may wish to ask about how the agency trains and monitors caregivers and if the agency provides continuing education.

    3. Explore care options – and costs – thoroughly.
  • Services – the how and the when. It’s important to know when services are available and when they will be provided – daytime only, nights, weekends? If you think there may be a need, you should ask if care is available around-the-clock, if necessary.
  • Expenses and billing. When you determine exactly what services you need and for how long, you will want to know what the cost is and how the agency handles expenses and billing.
  • Emergencies – You will want to explore what procedures are in place for emergencies, and how the agency will deliver services if the person receiving services faces a medical emergency or in the event there is a power failure or natural disaster.

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when seeking home healthcare. By doing your homework and engaging a qualified care provider, however, you can be assured that you get the care you need for yourself or a loved one.

This post is for general informational purposes only. The specifics of your situation will determine what home healthcare is right for you. For a video presentation of this information, please visit Care Conversations with Crystal – The Home Healthcare Huddle. For more detailed information, please visit www.porzioplanning.com or contact us for a free 20 minute telephone consultation.

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