Introduction: Making the decision
to hire a home care service to provide care for your loved one is an
important decision and can, at the same time, be very difficult. If
an illness or recovery from surgery requires nursing care or
physical therapy, a physician may order skilled home care services
that provide both skilled providers and personal aides. Your
decision is then based on the obvious medical determinations made by
the doctor. But what if you as the family caregiver must determine
the extent of care needed without the help of a doctor?
Each home care situation is unique. In the beginning, family or
friends step in to help with simple tasks and support for aging
seniors who want to stay in their homes. As long term care needs
progress, more time is required to manage those needs. Physical and
mental conditions change with aging making usually routine hygiene
and daily living activities difficult for an aging individual. Even
with the healthiest of seniors, the ability to drive a car, shop for
groceries or do general housekeeping eventually needs to be
relinquished to the responsibility of another person.
The Typical Situation:
The following is a typical situation for our clients and children.
Karen, would stop by her parents' home on her way to work every
morning and again on her way home from work in the evening. She
checked in the morning to see that they were up and ready for the
day and Karen would take a shopping list for things they needed. In
the evening she delivered the needed items she had purchased during
her lunch break and sometimes she fixed a meal when one was not
prepared by her mother. This worked well until Karen began to notice
her father did not shave or dress during the day and both parents
were forgetting their medications. Karen felt more time and
supervision was needed in their care but with her own family and
job, she could not do it. Non-medical or personal home care services
would be a good option for Karen to consider.
Determine the Needs: Before
starting your search for a non-medical or personal home care
company, determine what the care needs are and how much time each
week will be required for assistance from the company. You may want
to consult with the family physician and other family members as
well as experienced social workers or care managers to determine
needs. Most home care companies, as well, will help you do an
assessment at no charge. With your care needs in hand, you are ready
to begin your search.
* How long has this provider been serving the community?
* Does this provider supply literature explaining its services,
eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources? Many providers
furnish their home care clients with a detailed "Patient Bill of
Rights" that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the
providers, clients, and family caregivers alike.
* How does this provider select and train its employees? Does it
protect its workers with written personnel policies and malpractice
insurance? Does it protect clients from theft or abuse by bonding
* Does this provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of
care clients are receiving in their homes? If so, how often do these
individuals make visits? Who can the client and his or her family
members call with questions or complaints? How does the company
follow up on and resolve problems?
* What are the financial procedures of this provider? Does the
provider furnish written statements explaining all of the costs and
payment plan options associated with home care?
* What procedures does this provider have in place to handle
emergencies? Are its caregivers available on notice?
* How does this provider ensure client confidentiality?
Ask for References: If a
home care company has not previously been recommended to you, ask
for a list of previous clients and call for their experience with
Following up on these guidelines can help you determine the quality
of personal care that is given. Many states license non-medical home
care companies and require both legal and health standards to be