Choosing a home care provider to take care of you or a loved one is such an important decision. You want to find a provider who you trust to come into your home and who has the skills and experience to handle your specific needs. With more than 10 million Americans receiving some form of in-home care and a plethora of options available, it’s no surprise that choosing the right home health care agency can seem like a daunting task.
While there are many important factors to consider when choosing the best agency to meet your needs, the following questions can help guide you during your initial meeting with a home health care provider:
- What services does the agency provide?
Not all agencies are qualified for the same services. While this question depends largely on what your needs are, it’s a good idea to understand what services the agency typically provides. Let the agency tell you exactly what their care providers do, because they might be qualified to do services that you haven’t considered or supplement or extend services covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance.
- How many years has the agency been serving your community?
Though the number of years an agency has been in business doesn’t always reflect service and reliability, it certainly reflects the stability and success of the business. South Shore Health System’s Home & Community Care division includes South Shore VNA— serving the community for more than 100 years; Hospice of the South Shore—providing hospice and palliative care services for patients since 1980; and Home & Health Resources—a private-pay program that has been bringing skilled medical services and personal home care services to the community since 1983.
- Is this home care program Medicare-certified?
Medicare-certified programs have met federal requirements for patient care and management. Services provided by these agencies are closely supervised and controlled. South Shore VNA is one of the state’s largest providers of Medicare-certified home health care, and Hospice of the South Shore is the first Medicare-Certified hospice program in the region.
- If I don’t like my caregiver, can I request someone different?
You should always feel comfortable enough with the agency to turn down a caregiver and request someone different if it’s not the right fit. A good home care agency will also be concerned with continuity of care. Having a dedicated caregiver can often be beneficial, because they’ve learned you or your loved one’s routine.
- Do you work with my doctor in developing a plan of care?
Most agencies will work directly with your doctor in arranging and planning for your care. Certainly if you require care beyond that associated with activities of daily living, your doctor should be involved with managing medical problems, preparing a treatment plan with short and long term goals and reassessing the treatment plan when necessary.
- Does the agency carry liability coverage?
Should a caregiver get hurt while working in your home, licensed agencies should have their own insurance that covers their employees in the case of an accident.
- Can the agency be reached 24/7?
Situations may arise when you will need to cancel a visit or schedule additional care. Someone from your home care team should be available at any time to make these schedule requests.
- Does the agency provide a way for families to keep track of the care schedule?
Schedules and circumstances can change on a regular basis, so you’ll want to be able to reach a scheduler when you need to request an adjustment in hours than were initially expected. Unanticipated circumstances, such as doctor visits or hospitalizations, will need to be handled as they occur. Your home care agency should expect this and be willing to adjust schedules as needed.
- Can the agency customize the plan of services to my unique care needs?
A good agency understands that family situations and needs are never “one-size-fits-all,” so you’ll want an agency who can meet your broader health needs and a well-matched caregiver who understands your individual needs.
- Does the agency have backup staff in the event that the primary caregiver needs to cancel a shift?
Inevitably, your regular care provider might have an unexpected life event that will prevent them from taking care of you or your family member. A good agency should have adequate staffing to send a backup.
The right agency for you and your loved one—above all—will be the one that can provide a worry-free experience and is willing to customize their services to suit your particular needs. Your home care agency should make you feel confident in your choice.
Experts from South Shore VNA, Hospice of the South Shore, and Home & Health Resources understand how important it is to choose the right home care provider, which is why we offer all of the above benefits and are happy to work with you to meet your unique needs.
Register for Free Seminar on Dec. 7
If you need more clarification around finding and paying for the right in-home care for your unique situation, register today for a FREE seminar on December 7, where our home care experts will help answer all your questions.