Before you hire a home health services agency, think about what you want and need from this type of care. Compassion, family-focused, and highly skilled may be just some of the traits that quickly come to mind. To really help you identify what’s important, we’ve put together a list of elements any quality agency will possess in spades.
11 Things to Look for in Home Health Services
1. A Full Spectrum of Care Services
Some home health services specialize in companionship, while others limit the hours their staff are available. But you may need more assistance than either of these scenarios provides. For instance, your loved one may require long-term help with meal preparation, transportation, and other personal tasks. Or perhaps he or she needs more specialized care, like exercise assistance.
Needs can also change at any point, such as when your family member returns home after surgery and requires additional help walking and transferring. The point is that you need a flexible service provider who can adjust their level of care to meet your loved one’s unique situation. This will prevent you from having to contract with a different agency later as needs fluctuate.
2. Staff Members with Different Areas of Expertise
A team of registered and skilled nurses who partner with home health aides will provide more comprehensive care for your loved one. This is crucial when it comes to caring for disabled adults, NICU preemies, and others with special needs.
In a best-case scenario, registered nurses conduct home-based medical assessments to identify the exact level of care needed. That treatment plan is then communicated to professional caregivers who ensure your loved one has the support necessary to stay safely and comfortably at home.
A Cohesive Flow
This hierarchy helps tasks flow in a smooth and consistent manner. For instance, a nurse who regularly communicates with aides can oversee the care provided and effectively answer your questions. If a specialized need arises, the nurse can also refer you to a qualified outside source. And he or she can coordinate care with other providers to ensure your loved one receives the highest level of support possible.
3. Employees Who Have Passed Background Checks
Allowing someone to care for your family member demands significant trust. Essentially, you need to know that person has your family’s best interests at heart. A background check provides the peace of mind you need.
A caregiver should be qualified in other ways as well, including training and experience. This is why you choose to partner with a service provider rather than conduct interviews and background checks yourself – to save time and effort. You should therefore feel comfortable asking an agency about their hiring process, including how they screen candidates.
4. Affordable Care Plans
Medicare and Medicaid both cover home health services for eligible patients when they are provided by a certified agency. This keeps care affordable so your loved one can stay safely at home. Certification is also a sign that the agency meets state and federal requirements for quality care.
But the provider you choose should offer additional payment options if Medicare or Medicaid are not involved. For instance, private pay, health savings plans, and supplemental insurance should all be accepted so that you and your family can choose the method best suited to your budget.
5. A Verifiable History
Factors like long-term history within the community and a strong reputation are critical factors to consider when looking at home health agencies. Start-ups may lack the knowledge and skill necessary to properly care for your loved one. Likewise, a company’s poor reputation can point to caregivers who lack sufficient training or act unprofessionally. Some questions you might consider asking an agency include:
- Do other patients or healthcare providers recommend your services?
- How long have you been in the home health services industry?
- Are you inspected by an outside organization?
6. Availability 24 Hours a Day, Seven Days a Week
It’s important you team up with an agency whose staff are available 24/7. Such accessibility may keep your loved one from going to the hospital and also improve care outcomes in an emergency. Last but not least, this ensures that if your family member needs around-the-clock care at some point, the agency will be able to provide it.
7. Cost Breakdowns
Caring for a loved one at home is no easy feat. It requires a significant time commitment from you, and the costs must be added to the overall family budget. That’s why the agency you choose should be able to provide in writing what your insurance will cover.
They should also describe any expected out-of-pocket expenses so you know exactly what must be paid and when it’s due. And as you’re discussing costs, ask about additional fees so that when the bill arrives, it doesn’t contain any surprises.
8. Easy Care Transitions
If your loved one is being released from a skilled nursing facility or hospital, you want to select an agency that makes the transition to home as easy as possible. This means aides and nurses who provide:
- A schedule of when home health visits will be performed
- Help in getting the supplies and equipment your family member needs
- Medication reminders
- Assistance in keeping the home safe for your loved one
- Regular communication with you
- Answers to all your questions
9. Customized Care Plans
The level of care needed by a neighbor or friend is likely to differ from that required for your loved one. Any agency you’re considering should recognize this and likewise understand the importance of personalized care plans. Support should be tailored to include input from you and your family member’s team of healthcare providers. This level of attention increases the likelihood your loved one will be able to remain at home.
10. Backup Care Policies
More than one caregiver should be assigned to your loved one to provide for their specific needs. After all, no single individual can continuously provide assistance, especially if 24/7 support is needed. For this reason, the agency you consider needs to have a backup care policy that allows for work-hour limitations and staff vacations. The plan should also provide for when a caregiver calls in sick or cannot make a scheduled shift.
Shift changes and substitute caregivers should be scheduled fluidly without interruption to services. If you feel uncomfortable with the staffing process your prospective agency has implemented, you need to continue looking for a home health partner.
11. Staff Who Enjoy Caregiving
Helping aging adults, disabled individuals, those recovering from surgery or illness, and preemies is a calling rather than a job. The aides hired to care for your loved one should therefore understand they’re stepping into a family-like role. Whether offering occasional respite for relatives or delivering full-time care, the agency’s staff should look forward to helping during your time of need.
A home health agency should tailor its services to match your loved one’s health, lifestyle, and financial needs. And staff should deliver care that is nearly identical to what a family member would provide. We understand this perfectly and take a heart-centered approach to every person we work with. Contact Parent Care today and learn how our services can benefit you and your loved one.