It’s your health. It’s your home. It’s your choice.
Choosing the right agency to provide home care for you or a loved one is a very personal decision. One that should not be taken lightly. Afterall, you are inviting people into a most intimate space, your home, to take care of you or a loved one at a most vulnerable point, during an illness or after surgery. You want to make sure you choose wisely and have the utmost confidence in the quality of care you or a loved one will receive.
Care in the Home
In the rapidly evolving health care environment, care in the home is quickly becoming the hub of health care. More services than ever are available to patients.
HOME CARE is a broad term that is used to encompass, different types of services that patients can receive in their homes. First, with your physician, determine what services are necessary.
- Visiting Nurse Services (also called certified home care or skilled home care)
- Palliative Care/Hospice Care
- Private Care Services
Visiting Nurse Services
- Short term skilled care in the home provided by licensed professionals: Nurses, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Home Health Aides, Social Workers, Registered Dieticians
- Home Bound Patients, per a doctor’s order or after a surgery, hospital stay, a stay in a rehabilitation facility or a general decline in functioning (homebound means you do not generally leave unassisted as it takes an effort to do so)
- Covered by insurances such as Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances
Palliative & Hospice Services
- Palliative Care is specialized care for people facing a serious illness who are receiving ongoing treatment
- Hospice is a philosophy of end of life care for people facing a serious/terminal illness who have discontinued treatment
- Address healthcare and spiritual needs of the patient
- Provide support to the family
Private Care Services
- Such as homemaking, companionship and personal care, considered “custodial care”
- Paid for by patient, family or through some long-term care insurances
- There is no set time limit to care of this nature
How do you choose a Home Care Agency?
- Reach out to agencies and ask for a face to face meeting if that makes you more comfortable.
- Research agencies’ on the internet and review the agency’s own website.
- Does the agency have comprehensive services such as chronic disease management programs, registered dietician, physical therapy, psychiatric services, occupational therapy and speech therapy, palliative care, hospice services, private care services?
- For seriously ill patients receiving visiting nurse services, is there consistency in who provides continued care if hospice services become appropriate?
- Do they offer alternative forms of care or innovative services like Reiki, healing touch, aromatherapy and pet therapy
- Do they use volunteers to provide respite for Hospice patients
- Is the agency available to see you in a timely manner?
- Medicare allows 72 hours to admit the patient onto services however most patients who were in a hospital or skilled nursing facility would greatly benefit from a next day visit. Will you have 24 hour access to a nurse should you need it?
- These are reported on www.cms.com: How are the outcomes of the agency? How does the agency rate for patient satisfaction? Does the agency give top quality care? * also determined by Department of Public Health and word of mouth
- Is the home care agency a member of industry groups like the Home Care Alliance, is it affiliated with a health system, is it recognized on the Home Care Elite list, has it received awards for its care?
- Home health care agencies should have former patients and family members of those patients available as references. Talk with each one about their experiences, both positive and negative. Ask for their opinions on what they think you should do.
- Don’t be afraid to pay a visit to the agency. Talk with some of the home care professionals there. It is your right to talk with the people who will be looking after you or your loved one.