If you are like me, with each passing day life can become more and more complicated. Between working a full-time job, raising a family, volunteer work, attempting to actually use my gym membership and playing community sports it’s sometimes impossible to find time in the day for things that really should take precedence.
For the past twenty years, my father and now I have become the power of attorney for many of our distant family members. By distance, I mean that we live in Sarasota, FL and most of my grandparents and great grandparents live in Colorado. With power of attorney comes great responsibility. How can I manage my current busy lifestyle while at the same time ensure that I am making the right decision for my loved ones?
Twenty-five years ago my father Wil made the wrong decision for my great grandfather Frank who was fighting Alzheimer’s. At that point in his life, my father was the oldest grandson 1,000 miles away without real knowledge of all of his options. My dad thought he was doing the right thing by putting his grandfather Frank in a nursing home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best experience for my great grandfather or the rest of the family. The guilt still haunts my dad today. Fast-forward 15 years later, and my dad made the right decision for Frank’s wife Ida who also was battling Alzheimer’s. As a family we decided to keep Grandma Ida in her home with the assistance of non-medical home care. As a family we had to pool all of our resources together to make it happen. As a result, Ida was able to live the last 15 years of her life independently in the comfort of her home.
Throughout the 15 years of using the services on non-medical homecare we had our ups and downs with several agencies. Through the experience we learned the importance of choosing a company that understood our requirements, followed up with assessments and made themselves available to problem solve.
There are a pleathra of home care agencies to choose from. Here is a quick guide to assist you and your family as you consider the many options available to you. Whether or not homecare is the right option, I hope this guide assists you in asking the right questions to make your decision much easier.
First and foremost you need to decide the needs of your loved one/family member. Home care services range from skilled care performed by nurses or therapists to home support such as personal care, homemaking and companionship services. While some companies may offer both, be certain what the needs are of your loved one / family member.
If you’re considering skilled care services performed by a home healthcare agency there are a few qualifying questions you should consider:
- Is the agency licensed by the state you are requesting services? While laws vary from state to state, many states require agencies to be licensed and reviewed on a regular basis.
- Is the agency certified by Medicare to meet federal requirements for health and safety? If not, make sure you ask why.
- What type of employee screening process does the agency complete? How often are staff trained and evaluated? Can the agency provide references? Be sure to ask for a list of hospitals, doctors or other medical professionals that have worked with the agency as a recommendation.
If you’re considering non-medical homecare or companion care there are also some qualifying questions you should consider:
- How does the agency hire and train caregivers? How does the supervisor evaluate the quality of care given by caregivers?
- Does the agency conduct patient satisfaction surveys to ensure patient and family expectations are being met? How often does the agency check-in on clients?
- What are the aide’s credentials? While regulations vary from state to state. Be certain you are comfortable with the aide’s training and experience.
- Was the agency clear about the fees for services rendered?
- Does the agency develop a personalized care plan for each client? How is the care plan developed and/or changed over time?
- Will the agency work with your insurance company to check the coverage you have? The same question applies to veterans who may be eligible for services through the VA.
- Will the agency send caregivers to only the home? Will they work with hospice, senior living communities to provide care?
- Is the agency available 24/7? If an emergency takes place at 2am on a Sunday morning will someone answer your call?
- What are the policies for keeping family members informed?
What was most important to my family was professional and personalized care. As a family we had specific demands for the way my grandmother should be cared. We wanted to make sure that we chose a home care company that didn’t view my grandmother as another billable client. Making sure that an honest assessment of needs and developing an individualized care plan was essential. Ida had a severe case of Alzheimer’s, and it was important to have caregivers that understood the disease so they could better serve her.
My advice for you is to define what is most important to you. Set expectations with any home care agency you communicate with. Have a plan to review expectations. Lastly, choose an agency that will understand your requirements and work with you.
At Griswold Home Care we have been referring the best caregivers for over 30 years. Our commitment has always been providing the best possible home care in the most affordable way to support family and loved ones. Griswold Home Care offers a wide variety of home care, senior care and disability care services. We look forward to speaking with you about your family’s needs.