Home Home Health Agency How to Choose a Home Health Care Agency for Seniors

How to Choose a Home Health Care Agency for Seniors

Home health care is a combination of skilled nursing care and other health care services that a patient gets at home for the treatment of injury and illness.  It includes occupational, physical and speech therapy. It helps seniors to live independently and at home for as long as possible, given the limits of their medical condition.

It may involve helping the elderly with activities of daily living (ADL) such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Or it may include assistance with cooking, cleaning, other housekeeping jobs, and monitoring one’s daily regimen of prescription and over-the-counter medications. It covers a wide range of services and can often delay the need for long-term nursing home care. Home health care may also include hospice support and services provided at home.

But when the time comes, one wonders about the facts and dilemmas of home health care.  The elderly have the apprehension of leaving the comfort of home and go to live in the nursing homes. It is better to talk to the residents already living in the skilled nursing facility so that you have a fair idea of the place.

Home Health Care Agency Selection Questionnaire

You can also make a questionnaire that can help in your search of a home health care agency in your area. The questionnaire or survey should address the following:

  • Has the agency been licensed by the state?
  • For how long has the agency been serving the community?
  • Is the agency licensed by the state or federal agencies?
  • Is the agency accredited?
  • Does the agency have a nursing supervisor on-call 24 hours a day?
  • Does the agency have printed brochures to describe the services it offers and how much do these services cost?
  • Is the agency an approved Medicare provider?
  • Does the agency offer seniors a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” that describes the rights and responsibilities of both the agency and the senior being cared for?
  • Does the agency write a plan of care for the patient and also update the plan when needed?
  • How closely do supervisors oversee care to ensure quality?
  • Are agency staff members available around the clock, seven days a week, if necessary?
  • How does the agency hire and train caregivers?
  • What type of employee screening is done before hiring?
  • Are the caregivers licensed and insured?
  • How closely does the agency’s supervisor evaluate the quality of homecare?
  • Does the agency have a quality improvement program?
  • Do the agency’s employees seem friendly and helpful?
  • Does the home health aide have a positive attitude?
  • Are you or your loved one comfortable with the home health aide?
  • How does the agency ensure patient confidentiality?
  • How are agency caregivers hired and trained?
  • What is the procedure for resolving problems when they occur, and who can I call with questions or complaints?
  • Is there a sliding fee-schedule based on ability to pay, and is financial assistance available to pay for services?
  • Will the agency provide a list of references for its caregivers?
  • Who does the agency call if the home health care worker cannot come when scheduled?

When purchasing home health care directly from an individual provider (instead of an agency), it is even more important to screen the person thoroughly. This should include an interview with the home health caregiver to make sure that he or she is qualified for the job. You should request references. Also, prepare for the interview by making a list of any special needs the senior might have.

Whether you arrange for home health care through an agency or hire an independent home health care aide on an individual basis, it helps to spend some time preparing for the person who will be doing the work. Ideally, you could spend a day with him or her, before the job formally begins to discuss what will be involved in the daily routine.

Home Health Care Resources

There are several national organizations that can provide additional consumer information about home health care services. These include the following:

  • The National Association for Home Care, which can be reached at 202-547-7424 or by visiting its website at ..
  • The Visiting Nurse Associations of America, which can be reached at 617-737-3200 or by visiting its website at .

To find out more about home health care programs where you live, you will want to contact your local aging information and assistance provider or area agency on aging (AAA).

Locating a Home Health Care Agency

The Eldercare Locator, a public service of the Administration on Aging (at 1-800-677-1116 or can help connect you to these agencies.

We have included a comprehensive list of home health care and personal care agencies in our senior care resources network directory available on line. You may use this resource to search and locate home health care agencies in all 50 states in US.

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