It takes both time and patience to find an experienced and reliable home health care provider, but it is worth the effort. Determining what qualities the ideal caregiver should possess is a personal decision.
Home care agency versus an individual home health care provider
Deciding whether you want to hire an individual caregiver or work with a home health care agency will depend on your needs, preferences and your available financial resources. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice, so understanding your options is an important part of making a decision.
Agencies usually have trained and licensed staff that provides in home care. They supervise the worker. If provider doesn't work out, the agency will replace him/her. This can be greatly convenient, however, consideration should be given to the cost obtaining home care services through an agency. Due to administrative overheads, the cost of in home care may be higher. This may reduce the number of hours of caregiver services you can afford. There may also be less flexibility in the type of service each category of home health care provider is allowed to give.
When choosing an independent caregiver, use your best judgment. References from friends, neighbors, and relatives also help. The list of duties they provide is not restricted and can be mutually decided. Further, the costs are typically lower. On the downside, it may take extra work to find the providers, though. Further, there may also be no guarantee of their nursing credentials or home healthcare training.
The first checklist
After deciding between hiring through a home health care agency or an individual provider, keep the following in mind:
o Ask your doctor, nurse, hospital discharge planner, friends, neighbors, and relatives for references
o Check out Medicare's Home Health Care Compare Tool
o Search the Internet using keywords such as "home care" and "home health care"
o Look up the Yellow Pages
Once you have a list of providers, check these out:
o Valid personal referrals
o Recognition by Medicare/Medicaid or Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)
o Types of services provided
o Skills of the caregiver
o Payment options
o Ownership/management, if it is an agency
o Whether the agency's caregivers are bonded and insured
o Criminal record, if you hire an individual
While interviewing potential providers, make your expectations and needs clear right from the start. Ask questions to get to know the potential hire better, and make a decision based on your overall impression of the provider.