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In-Home Care Agencies: A Good Option in Caring for Mom or Dad

One of the hardest realizations you may have in life is recognizing the fact that your mother, father or both are unable to care for themselves. One of the toughest choices you may make is trying to decide who is going to provide the care they may need. This decision is crucial, as the levels of care can span from something as easy as assistance with grocery shopping to responsibilities as personal as helping someone bathe. Even if you are able to provide some help for your parents, you may find you cannot do it alone.

IIt is important to understand the dynamics in this situation. You may realize your loved one needs help, but many seniors are unwilling to recognize this fact. Some even have a tendency to refuse assistance. However, most seniors also have a fierce desire to remain living independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Home health care companies help make this possible by offering services tailored to meet each client's needs in order to foster that independence.

We are familiar with the obstacles that can make the decision of who cares for your loved ones complicated and even a bit difficult for all concerned. Conversations may become emotional, but they are essential when living alone becomes a danger for the senior. Once you cross the threshold and begin the selection process in earnest, there are several key points for evaluating home health care agencies you should know and discuss with your loved one.

We devised the following list of 20 key questions to ask potential health care providers to assist you in making your choice:

  1. How many years has your agency been in business serving the community?
  2. Does your agency carry liability coverage?
  3. Do you conduct national and local criminal background checks and driving record checks for all employees? Are personal and professional references required?
  4. Are the caregivers employees of your company (not contractors) and protected by workers' compensation?
  5. Are caregivers bonded and insured for theft?
  6. Do you have a systematic method for tracking caregiver arrival and departure times at the client's home?
  7. Do you provide 24/7 telephone service?
  8. Do you provide backup coverage in the event a caregiver cannot make it to work?
  9. Does your agency require a minimum number of hours per shift? If so, what is the minimum?
  10. Do your services include personal care such as bathing, incontinence care and mobility assistance?
  11. Does your agency provide transportation services for clients?
  12. Does your agency maintain a business office where I can meet you and the office staff?
  13. Do you have an administrative staff I can contact for information?
  14. Do you provide in writing the care services provided and clearly describe all rates and fees?
  15. Does your agency make periodic supervisory visits to a client's home?
  16. Can you provide documentation explaining the client's rights, your code of ethics, workers' compensation coverage and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?
  17. Can you provide emergency monitoring systems, medication solutions and other safety technology?
  18. Will your agency provide a free in-home assessment prior to starting service?
  19. How quickly can your agency initiate service?
  20. Are you certified or licensed by any government agency to provide home care?

Due diligence is critical in making this choice. You want your loved one to be comfortable with the hired assistance, and you want to ensure the home care company conducts business in a safe, healthy and lawful manner.

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