Seven Questions to Ask a Potential In-Home Care Provider

As Americans age in record numbers, in-home care is a more popular option than ever for seniors who need intensive health care but prefer to age in place rather than live out their days in a traditional nursing home facility. If you have a family member who needs assistance with aspects of daily living but prefers to stay in his or her own home, here are seven questions to ask to help you find the right in-home care provider.

1. Do you have a “Patient Bill of Rights”?
Though it might go by a different name, documentation should be readily available that explains the scope of services, fees, funding sources, eligibility requirements, and any other pertinent information for potential clients.

2. How long have you been in business?
While new in-home care providers aren’t necessarily to be avoided, a long history in the field indicates that the organization is doing something right. They should also be able to provide references from satisfied customers.

3. Do you offer medical care as well as personal care and companionship services?
In addition to medical services, you may want to find a care provider who assists with tasks of daily living like bathing and dressing, grocery shopping and meal prep, light housekeeping, recreation, and conversation and companionship. This largely depends on your loved one’s needs and preferences.

4. Who are your care providers?
Learn as much as possible about the hiring process for nurses and nurse aides through the agency you’re considering. You’ll want to be clear about how employees are selected, trained, and monitored. It’s also essential that anyone caring for your family member has undergone a comprehensive background check.

5. What’s the care planning process?
Family members and the individual should be included in this process whenever possible. There should also be mechanisms in place to document the tasks to be performed by the caregiver and to make and communicate changes to the care plan when necessary.

6. How are issues handled?
An agency should have a clear procedure in place not only to supervise in-home care providers but also to record and promptly follow up on patient and family questions and complaints. You should also ensure that emergency procedures are spelled out, readily available, and followed by all care providers.

7. Are you Medicare-certified and licensed by the state?
While home care is often a less expensive alternative than facility-based nursing care, most agencies should be set up to accept Medicare, and be able to explain how much of the care will be covered, and how much it will cost your family out-of-pocket. State licensing is critical for any home care agency; you can also check with your state’s agency to find out whether the care provider is in good standing.

If you or a family member needs intensive health care or help with daily living, home care may be a more palatable option than a nursing home facility. These seven questions can help ensure your peace of mind when choosing a care provider.

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