Seeking the services of a home care agency usually comes at a critical time - when you or a loved one is recovering from surgery, or need care for a chronic illness.
Receiving quality assistance in this time of need is of utmost importance, and knowing exactly what kind of home care services you may need - such as skilled nurses or household support - is a good place to start.
No matter what type of support you need, however, knowing what questions to ask when considering a home care agency can be crucial. Here are eight important questions that can help guide you through the process and help you make the right choice.
Is The Agency Licensed? Most states require agencies to be licensed and subject to regular reviews. In many cases, those reviews are available through your state health department. An important note: Not all states require licensing, so be sure that check what your state's requirements entail.
What Type Of Employee Screening Is Done? It's important to know how an agency selects and train its employees. Can the agency provide references who've had experience with the agency? Also be sure to ask if the caregivers are licensed and insured, and if background checks are done on them.
What Type Of Supervision Is There? Ask if the agency has supervisors assigned to oversee the kind of care the patient is receiving. Moreover, do these supervisors make visits, and how often?
Is There A Written Care Plan? Will there be a plan of care in writing before services begin? This plan should include details about a variety of things - from medical equipment needed, specific care needs, as well as input from the doctor. You should also make sure that they will provide you with a copy of the plan.
What Are Their Financial Procedures? Make sure that the agency provides written statements explaining all of the costs and payment options. Ask for literature explaining all the services and fees. Of course, it's important to know what fees are covered by health insurance or Medicare. Check to make sure what your own health insurance coverage provides.
Is The Caregiver A Good Fit? Naturally, you want to be comfortable with the caregiver and it can be of vital importance when it comes to quality of care. Does the aide have a positive, friendly attitude? Are you or your loved one comfortable working with them and having them around the house?
Is There A Patient Bill Of Rights? Most agencies provide what is known as a 'Patient Bill of Rights' that covers all of the rights and responsibilities of the agency, patients and caregivers. It's also helpful to get an annual report or other informational materials about the provider.
How Often Is Care Available? Check to see if caregivers are available around the clock, seven days a week. Also, ask what procedures are in place should a caregiver not show up for a scheduled shift. Is there a system in place that will quickly send another caregiver to fill in?
Again, choosing the right home care agency for you and your loved one is an important decision. But asking the right questions to obtain the information you need before making that decision can make the process much easier.