How to Choose In-Home Care
Health care services at home can benefit many people for many different reasons. Some are recovering from surgery or have a chronic condition that requires ongoing care. Others need certain therapies or complex medical monitoring one might think are only available in a hospital or rehab center. Some simply could use assistance with the activities of daily living, like bathing or administering medication. Some need part-time care, while others need a trained aide or nurse present around-the-clock. Everyone’s situation is different, but almost everyone can benefit from being cared for at home surrounded by family and friends, vs.an extended hospital or nursing home stay.
You and your loved one’s doctor have decided it would be good for him or her to be cared for at home, so now you want to choose the best provider for the customized care you require. Where do you start? The first step may be to decide whether you need care for just a few hours a day, or whether your loved one requires around-the-clock skilled nursing services.
Ask whoever you call if they provide a free, in-home consultation to help determine the needs of your patient and the needs of others, like family and friends, who will be assisting with care.
An in-home evaluation is best, but whether you are talking on the phone or in the provider’s office, ask these important questions and compare the answers before you choose an in-home healthcare provider:
- Are you licensed by the North Dakota Department of Health to provide in-home healthcare services, including skilled nursing care, home health aide care and at-home companion care?
- Is the business owned and managed by credentialed professionals experienced in healthcare?
- Are you locally owned and operated? How large is your service area?
- Are your home health aides licensed Certified Nursing Assistants?
- Do your caregivers receive initial and on-going training?
- What levels of care or range of services do you provide? For example, do you provide medication setup and administration? Is companion care and help with daily chores available?
- Will you assist in identifying and arranging medical equipment necessary to provide home healthcare services in my home?
- Is there an individualized care plan that is implemented and reviewed regularly with the family?
- Do you make periodic visits to the home to assure quality care is given and the plan followed?
- Does the care plan include mental stimulation and human companionship?
- Do you have staff and or a nurse available 24/7 for questions in case of an emergency?
- If we needed help quickly, how soon could we expect to get service?
- What happens if a caregiver cannot make it to work? Is there a backup plan?
- Do you provide hourly, daily and monthly rates that are more affordable than hospital or rehab care? What is the minimum number of hours I can be billed for?
- Are your services covered by insurance and/or Medicare?
- Is there a method for tracking caregivers’ arrival and departure?
- Is there a way for family members to see the caregiver’s or nurses’ notes after services have been provided?
- Do you carry liability insurance? Are caregivers bonded and insured for theft?
- Are criminal and driving background checks and professional references required for caregivers?
- Do you have references from current or previous clients that you can share?
Skilled nursing care refers to a patient’s need of care that must be performed by a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN). Some examples of skilled nursing care would be assistance with an IV G-tube, tracheotomy, open wound, or ventilator; medication administration; infant or child medical care. Skilled nursing care must be ordered by a physician. If you are unclear about the exact level of medical care your loved one will require, ask the physician. The doctor will also be able to tell you what qualifications in-home care providers should have in your situation.
In-home healthcare is clinically proven, cost-effective and patient-preferred. You may want to ask if this provider will care for:
- a patient recovering from surgery, an accident or an illness
- a cancer patient undergoing out-patient treatment
- an individual with a chronic condition requiring ongoing care
- a senior who need assistance with the chores of daily living
- a person suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- a family member caregiver in need of respite care
- a patient on hospice or end-of-life care
Additional In-Home Care Services you may want to ask about:
- Elder care
- Safety supervision
- Medication reminders and management
- Personal care such as bathing/hygiene assistance
- Companion care
- Respite care
- Meal preparation
- Shopping and other errands
What are the specific benefits?
In addition to being the type of care most patients prefer, the benefits of being cared for at home by a qualified service include: it decreases the risk of infection compared to care in hospitals or care centers and it is tailored to the needs of the individual. It speeds up recuperation from illness, injury, or surgical procedures. As shown by medical studies, patients heal more quickly and successfully when recovering at home versus in a medical facility. It enables a faster recovery because of familiar surroundings and the comfort of family and friends nearby. It provides companionship and helps people not only medically, but emotionally.
by Beverly Unrath