If you or a loved one can no longer live at home without assistance, you’re probably facing some difficult decisions. Few people choose to move into a nursing home or assisted living facility without some apprehension. But you may not have to go down that road just yet. Senior home care providers can help you stay at home with help from regular visits.
If senior home care seems like the right choice for you, finding the right services can be overwhelming. Following these steps will help you find the best home care suited for your needs.
1. Determine what your personal home care needs are. Senior home care providers offer a variety of services including medical assistance, companionship, light housework and meal preparation. Some home care agencies provide healthcare services, others provide home companion helpers and some even have both. Also consider how often you’ll want and need visits to your home. Once you have a basic idea about what your home care might look like, you can start looking into agencies.
2. Research what senior home care agencies are available in your area and narrow them down based on what types of services they provide. You can find them using the phonebook and Internet, or you can use a senior home care services directory. These are available online and possibly in your doctor’s office or community center.
3. Research the credentials of the senior home care agencies you are most interested in. Agencies should meet all state-required licenses and verifications. If you need medical assistance like prescription drug management or physical therapy, only a qualified medical professional should provide it such as a registered nurse (RN) or certified nursing assistant (CNA). If you’re only receiving companion help like housework and meal preparation, your caregiver won’t need as much certification. The best home care agencies use RNs to conduct assessments and oversee all caregivers. At minimum, all caregivers should be tested with a criminal background check, reference check, drug screening and health screening. It’s also best that they have a Hepatitis B vaccination, CPR training and blood pathogens training. This type of information may not be available on an agency’s website or brochure, so you may have to ask about it.
4. Assess how much potential senior home care agencies are working in your best interest. Ultimately, you’ll want to receive care that is both reliable and flexible. Some good questions to ask agencies include:
Can I interview and choose the caregivers I want?
Can I switch caregivers if one isn’t working out?
What happens when a caregiver is gone or on vacation? (You should expect to have a qualified replacement in a timely manner.)
What is your employee turnover rate? (For quality home care, you’ll want an agency with a low turnover rate.)
5. Determine your financial options. For example, if your health insurance covers home care, you’ll need to know if a particular agency accepts that type of insurance. Senior home care agencies should be able to provide you guidance to help you get the service you need and can afford.
6. Once you’ve decided on an agency, interview and choose the individual caregiver or caregivers you want, if this is an option. You’ll want someone who is regularly in your home to connect with you on a personal level. Ideally, she will be compassionate, a good communicator and reliable. If you find the right caregiver, she may start to feel like part of the family after some time.
Throughout this process, you’ll probably have moments when you’re confused, frustrated and overwhelmed. You may encounter a lot of terms you’re not familiar with and will be asked a lot of questions. Just remember that senior home care providers are there to make your life easier and should be working in your best interest. Ask questions and be patient, and you’ll be able to find the best senior home care suited for your needs.