Common Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Home Care Agency

Choosing a home care agency can be a stressful process. After all, it means that someone you love has reached the point they need help to stay in their home. You want to be sure that you’re making sound decisions.

For a more successful selection process, avoid these ten mistakes that family members commonly make when choosing an in-home care agency.

1. Putting It Off Too Long (Waiting Until a Crisis Occurs)

Because of what having to hire a caregiver can mean, no one enjoys doing it. By the time someone decides to hire a home care agency, their loved one’s health may have deteriorated further. Or, they wait until a health crisis has beset their loved one and face having to make decisions quickly and under pressure.

Ideally, you want to have plenty of time between choosing an agency and the beginning of care so the caregiver can come over a few times to keep the person company, develop a bond, and assist with tasks. Doing so will help lay a solid groundwork for long-term success.

2. Basing the Decision Solely on Cost

Another common mistake is basing the decision solely on cost. Everyone is looking for good value, especially in potentially costly healthcare. When considering cost, though, remember the adage, “You get what you pay for.”

A home care agency that costs significantly less may provide fewer services or offer a narrower range of care services than your loved one needs. They may pay their caregivers less, which could mean a higher turnover rate and inexperienced assistance.

It would help if you asked questions about how much the agency pays their caregivers, what kinds of health insurance they accept, and which services they offer within your budget.

3. Assuming Medicare Will Pay the Bill

Many families assume that Medicare will pay for their loved one’s home care. The fact is that neither Medicare, Medicare supplements, nor private health insurance cover non-medical home care. They pay only for home health care services provided by a medical professional (such as a nurse or physical therapist) in response to a doctor’s orders.

4. Selecting the Wrong Type of In-Home Care Provider

Another common mistake is hiring a home care agency when the person needs and wants a skilled medical/home health care agency, or vice-versa.

A home health care agency may be able to provide the same basic care services as a home care agency and provide skilled medical services. However, a non-medical home care agency cannot provide the professional medical care services that a home health care agency does.

5. Not Getting the Care Recipient’s Input

Many families assume that if they decide a loved one needs a caregiver in order to continue living at home, the older adult will accept that care. That is not always the case. If your loved one is not ready, there is much less chance that the care plan will succeed.

Sometimes, the loved one is willing to accept home care but doesn’t like the particular caregiver that the family has chosen for them. Your relative’s ease and comfort are essential to a successful result. Allowing them to participate in interviews can go a long way in their level of comfort and acceptance.

6. Not Checking Agency Inspection Reports

Home care agencies are all inspected by a state survey agency to determine whether they are compliant with Medicare and Medicaid standards. Many families do not bother to track down this report and read it to see if they are satisfied with the home care agency’s ratings and policies.

You can ask the agency to see their report. Another way to view it is to go to the Medicare website, pull down the Resources menu, and select “Find Local Help.” You can also check there to see if your state has a department that requires home care agency licensure and regulation.

7. Not Getting Enough Information on the Agency’s Services

Another common mistake is not thoroughly researching all of the services provided by the home care agencies you are considering. Many families assume that all home care agencies offer the same services and can handle whatever care their loved one needs. In reality, this is not the case at all.

Find out all the agency’s services, including ones you don’t expect to use anytime soon. You never know how quickly your loved one’s specific needs may change.

8. Not Verifying Employee Training and Training Policies

Families often assume that a home care agency specializing in seniors is automatically prepared to provide care at home for any health condition that older adults experience. However, many situations require special training and supervision, and the home care agency may not have any trained or experienced caregivers available for your loved one.

Common health conditions that need a specially trained or experienced caregiver include Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, chronic pulmonary obstructive disease (COPD), and cancer. If your loved one has one of these conditions, make sure the home care agency has a caregiver available who is trained in caring for someone with that disorder.

9. Hiring an Agency With Insufficient Backup Care

Another common mistake is not verifying that the home care agency has plenty of backup caregivers when your loved one’s primary caregiver has to be away. A caregiver’s illness, holiday, or vacation day will mean that someone else must cover their schedule. Don’t assume that any agency you hire has plenty of backup workers for just this type of situation.

10. Not Having a Care Plan in Place in Advance

Many families are unaware that the home health agency should prepare an in-home care plan for your parent or other loved one before services begin. The care plan is a detailed schedule of the care recipient’s routines, medications, and the services they are to receive. It helps guide the caregiver and informs the family of planned services and activities.

To talk about strategies and options to keep your elderly parent in the familiar comfort of their own home, call Crystal Home Care in Chicago, IL, at (708) 535-4300. Our knowledgeable team members welcome your questions!

We provide professional in-home care services throughout Chicagoland and the surrounding suburbs including but not limited to: ChicagoHinsdaleWinnetkaNorthbrookWilmetteOak Brook

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