What to Expect When You Hire a Home Care Agency
Mom agrees she needs help at home and together you are planning to hire a home care agency. Here are questions to ask and tips for deciding on the right agency.
Use these questions to narrow down the list of home care agencies you will interview:
- Are your employees Certified Home Health Aides (CHHA)?
Accredited home care agencies hire CHHA staff. If the answer to this question is no, then the agency is hiring an ‘aide’ that is private, not certified, not supervised and not legal in NJ as of May 2019. A CCHA must work for an accredited agency which means they are supervised by a nurse and the board of nursing knows which agency they report to.
- Do you have a nurse on staff? How often will they visit?
New Jersey accreditation for home care agencies requires a nurse to make visits to your home every 60 days. Some agencies will schedule a nurse visit more often
- Do you have Care Managers on staff?
Care Managers (Aging Life Care Advisor’s) are an additional support for your family. A care manager focuses on the emotional, financial and spiritual aspect of your loved one. This person can guide you to additional resources, support and coordinate medical care.
- Which front office staff member will I interact with the most? What is their availability by phone?
Front office staff can make all the difference. You want an organization that quickly acknowledges an email or phone call even if they don’t have an immediate answer. Good communication skills that keep you informed is critical to your piece of mind.
- Does your staff go through training, beyond the HHA certification requirements?
Some agency’s provide additional training on caring for a person living with dementia. Some agencies do additional yearly training programs with employees.
- What type of background check do you conduct on your employees?
- What type of insurance and bonding do you carry?
Once you have your list of agencies, you can expect the following process:
- The agency will schedule time to come out to your home. This initial visit includes time to meet your loved one in order to understand their personality and to access what help they need with ADL’s and IADL’s. Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) are basic self-care tasks that include being able to dress, bath and feed themselves. Do they need help getting to the toilette or in an out of bed? Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s). look at your ability to live independently. Can you clean and maintain the house? Can you go shopping, manage your money or take prescribed medications?
- During this visit they will do a safety check of your home, looking for grab bars in the bathroom or area rugs that can cause a fall.
- As part of this assessment, they will ask medical history questions and want to know if there is a Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney (POA) for finances in place.
- Based on this assessment, they will describe the recommended services. It can be as little as 3-4 hours a week and as much as 24/7 live in care. Most agencies have a required minimum number of hours per day in order to place an aid in your home.
- In addition to the recommended services, limitations will also be explained. For example, “light housekeeping” does not include doing windows, outside maintenance work or standing on ladders.
Deciding on an agency:
Ask to see documentation that outlines how they will handle medical and personal privacy, and rights regarding your care. Look for policy around charges, changes to services, request for service and termination of services. It should explain how they handle service provided by third party healthcare agencies, how they will solicit feedback from you, what a grievance process entails, and treatment of personal property.
Look for an agency that is committed to a clear and transparent working relationship. Springpoint at Home is just such an agency. Families are informed about policies and procedures at the time of intake assessment, through their welcome booklet.
In addition, agencies like Springpoint at Home, with Aging Life Care Advisors and Care Manager as part of the team bring a distinct advantage to your experience. Care manager professionals come into this work as a social worker, counselor, nurse or gerontologist specializing in assisting older people and their families. As part of your team, they provide education, advocacy, counseling and support. Through care-planning assessments, they identify problems, helpful services and solutions. These services and solutions can be as simple as acting as a liaison to families at a distance, or as complex as review financial, legal or medical issues, and offer referrals to specialists. Having a knowledgeable professional to guide you through each new phase, or a provide intervention in a crisis will help you sleep at night.