Caring for older family members can be an enriching, rewarding experience. If you are a caregiver assisting a disabled person who requires constant supervision or regular help from a medical professional, you may find that you are not able to meet all of your loved ones’ needs on your own. In such circumstances, you may choose to hire a home health care worker.
How can you choose a home health care worker?Choosing an appropriate individual, someone whom you will feel comfortable having in your home and whom you can rely upon and trust, can be a challenging task. Here are a few tips to help you find the right level of care.
First, make sure that you choose someone who has the skill set to provide the level of care that your family member requires. There are three basic types of caregivers:
- Home care aids assist with basic household chores, such as cleaning, cooking and running errands. They may also help your loved one with daily tasks such as bathing and dressing. While many home health care aids are employed by agencies, these positions generally do not require certification or advanced training, and can sometimes be filled by friends or other family members.
- Home health aids have received specialized training, and are often certified nursing assistants, or CNAs. Therefore, they are equipped to administer medications, check pulses and temperatures, and care for other basic nursing tasks. They are typically employed by agencies, many of which are Medicare certified, and have met federal and state minimum requirements. They may also report to a nurse or doctor. Home health agencies assume responsibility for the care they provide, and are therefore usually available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Medical professionals include doctors, physical therapists, and nurses who are available for in-home care. If your loved one requires medical supervision or assistance, but cannot leave the house, you may consider hiring a medical professional.
So where do you begin your search?Once you have determined the level of care that your family member will require, you then need to find the appropriate agency or person to fill your needs. Ask family members, friends and your elderly loved one’s doctor for recommendations, as such ones may be able to provide valuable referrals. You may also contact senior centers, your local Area Agency on Aging, and other senior resources.
It is important to choose someone who will be a good fit both for you and for your family member. Here are a few questions to consider.
- How long has the agency been in business? Make sure thatyou choose an agency that can provide professionals who have the level of experience that you need in order to feel comfortable.
- What training does the agency provide for its employees? If your older family member requires assistance with medical tasks, make sure that the agency has people on staff who can meet those needs.
- What costs are involved, and is funding available? While Medicare will not cover the cost of a home care aid who only assists with non-medical tasks, it may cover some of the costs of hiring a medical professional or CNA on a short-term or part-time basis, as long as such care has been recommended by a doctor.
- Is a nurse or doctor on call 24/7? If you are hiring a home health care aid, find out if qualified professionals will be available in case of emergency.
- How is care monitored? Find out if the agency has procedures in place to prevent elder abuse.
- Does the agency involve the patient and the patient’s family in developing an appropriate plan for care? Make sure that both you and the family member in question will be as involved in the process as you need to be.
Once you have chosen an agency to handle in-home care, make sure that the person chosen to handle the care is someone that you and your loved one feel comfortable having in your home. Before an individual is specifically assigned to you, request a meeting so that you can determine whether that person will be a good fit. Check candidate references carefully, so that you can be sure that you are
getting assistance that is reliable and trustworthy. Finally, if you determine that the potential candidate is not a good fit, do not hesitate to contact the agency and request a change. If you do your homework before hiring a home health worker, then you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your elderly loved one is in good hands.