How to Choose a Senior Home Care Service

How to Choose a Senior Home Care Service

By Diane Dillon, administrator, Abramson Home Care

One of the key objectives in health care today is to help older adults remain safely at home while receiving vital medical care and support with daily living activities. When looking for a senior home care service, what are some things that should be considered?

First, it is important to initially differentiate between home health care skilled care, which is a restorative service often provided short-term by a registered nurse and may include physical, occupational and speech therapies and social worker services, following a hospitalization for an acute event or significant change in condition, and home care which usually consists of support services by an aide or homemaker to help the older adult with everyday tasks like bathing, cooking, and dressing, food shopping and food prep, medication reminders and companionship. It is important to consider if evidence-based methods are used to assess the individual’s ability to understand their illness and to prepare for care at home. The skilled senior home care service provider should incorporate measures while helping the client adjust during the transition home and to help avoid unnecessary re-hospitalizations and assist in the journey to attain the fullest measure of recovery attainable.       

You should next examine if person-centered care is integrated into the home care program. It is important to have a provider who assesses the client’s interests, history, work background, and family dynamics, so that the best care plan is developed. Does the provider provide an RN to perform an assessment and use that as the basis to develop a plan of care and also oversee the caregivers providing the service?  Is an RN on-call for the caregivers to contact with client concerns? Do you want a home care provider which one client described as a “roommate” or an aide who is more formal? Making the transition to home care services may be hard for some, as it may signal a loss of independence. The home care provider should work with the individual and their family to achieve a good balance between providing needed care and permitting safe independence.

The home care company should assess fall risk and safety hazards in the home. They may determine that modifications may be required to better ensure the client’s safety. Changes may be needed in bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchen areas. Outside vendors who can help make the appropriate safety enhancements may be recommended prior to the individual’s return from the hospital.

If senior home care services are being sought for an individual with dementia, it is important to remember that this type of care is very specialized. The agency should have extensive training with dementia patients at various stages of the disease. A family member should carefully interview the home care provider concerning the staff’s level of training and experience, their approach to behavioral changes and safety problems, and request references from current and former clients. As part of an overall health assessment, it is essential to determine if there are risks for depression which often accompanies many illnesses.

Methods of payment are private pay, long term care (LTC) insurance, VA benefits, and government funded programs such as waiver and options. When using LTC insurance it is crucial that to receive services through a licensed Home Care or Home Health Agency. Ask home care providers if they are licensed and also if they will assist in researching benefits and the requirements to insure payment under the LTC policy. Additionally, ask if they will accept an Assignment of Benefits and submit the bills and the required back up documentation needed for the claim to be paid.

Home care is also an important support service for family members, especially those who are primary caretakers. Caretaking is very stressful and home care services can provide needed respite, advice, and day-to-day assistance.

More and more individuals will choose home care as their desired way to receive medical services due to the ongoing trend to age in place. Taking the time to research which home care companies best meet your needs is essential to ensure proper care and peace of mind. Resources such as Abramson Care Advisors can help provide you with the information to determine what home care is right for you and your loved ones.