Home health care enables seniors and those with advanced, chronic illnesses to receive the specialized medical care they need within the comfort and safety of their own homes. Home health care may include physician-prescribed services, such as skilled nursing, speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy. It may also involve assistance for individuals with difficulty performing activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing.
It is important to note the difference between home care and home health care services. Home health care is medical in nature. While it does often include certain home care services, such as light housekeeping, home health care is intended to help someone recover from an illness or injury. Home health care providers are usually licensed nurses, home health aides, or therapists. Most home health caregivers work for hospitals, home health agencies, or public health departments licensed by the state, although some do work independently.
Questions to Ask When Considering a Home Health Care Agency
As with any important purchasing decision, it is a good idea to research your options before making your final choice. Your research should include reviews and testimonials, in addition to conversations with family, friends, and neighbors.
If you are considering a home health care agency, consider the following questions when conducting your search:
- Does the agency have a current license to practice?
- Is the agency’s quality of care certified a national accrediting organization, such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
- How long has the agency been in business?
- Does the agency’s website or brochure describe all of their services and related costs?
- Is the agency an approved Medicare or Medicaid provider?
- Is there a sliding fee schedule based on ability to pay?
- Is financial assistance available to pay for services?
- What is the procedure for resolving problems?
- Who do I contact with questions or complaints?
- Are references available for each of the agency’s caregivers?
- How does the agency screen prospective employees?
- How are the agency’s caregivers hired and trained?
- How is patient confidentiality ensured by the agency?
- What is the agency’s policy if the scheduled caregiver is unable to work?
- Is a nursing supervisor available at all times for on-call assistance?
- How is quality observed and ensured?
- Does the agency prepare a care plan with collaboration between the patient, doctor, and family members? Are plans updated as necessary?
- Does the agency offer a detailed description of the rights and responsibilities of both the agency and the patient receiving care?
Although most states require home health care agencies to carefully screen applicants and conduct criminal background checks on employees, regulations vary depending on the specific area. Because of this, you should call your local department of public health to confirm what laws apply to your state before contacting a home health care agency.
Considerations When Hiring an Individual Home Health Care Provider
If you are considering purchasing home health care services from an individual provider instead of an agency, it is even more important to conduct a thorough screening. Your selection process should always include a personal interview with the potential caregiver. Prepare for the interview by making a comprehensive list of the patient’s specific needs. For example, if your loved one will require help in and out of a wheelchair, make sure the candidate caregiver can fulfil that task. Request references.
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If you are considering home health care, schedule an appointment to learn more today.