Home Care Info for Older Adults
HOME IS OFTEN BEST
Most older people are better off living at home even when they have chronic health problems. Familiar surroundings help them feel secure and independent, connected with family and community. Living at home is also far less expensive than moving to a nursing home. And it's much more pleasant to recover from an illness in your own house or apartment.
But sometimes an older person needs some help with activities like fixing meals, doing laundry, or even getting up and dressed in the morning. Someone who has just gotten out of the hospital may require dressing changes, physical or occupational therapy or other special treatments.
If you or your family member have been in a hospital, a social worker or discharge planner can suggest home care agencies. You can also contact your city's office on aging, the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (216.621.8010), or First Call for Help (211) for information on local home care providers.
FINDING A HOME CARE PROVIDER
If you've never used home care services, you may feel reluctant to have a stranger come into your home. Perhaps you're not sure how to find and choose a provider. Home care services are provided by profit and not-for-profit agencies, hospitals, nursing homes, and county or local governments. All Ohio home care agencies must be licensed; some are certified to accept reimbursement from Medicare and private health insurance when skilled care is provided. Agencies that meet or exceed standards of quality for home care may be accredited by national professional organizations.
Questions to Ask Home Care Agencies
- Is the agency Medicare-certified?
- Will a registered nurse make a home visit and prepare a written plan of care?
- Will the family and client be involved in the care planning process?
- Are physical, speech, occupational or other therapists available?
- What services do home care aides provide?
- Will a nurse regularly supervise home care aides in the home?
- How is backup care arranged if the assigned worker does not show up?
- What kind of training do aides receive?
- What is the cost of the services?
- How are medical supplies and equipment provided?
- How often are bills for services issued?
- Who is responsible for completing insurance claims and paperwork?
SKILLED HOME CARE
Family members and friends often provide lots of help to older adults. There are also a variety of professional home care providers who can do everything from assisting with administering medical care to personal care.
Nurses work with the client's physician to develop a personal plan of home care. This can include wound care, administering medication, supervising use of medical equipment, helping families obtain medical supplies, and other care activities.
Home care aides assist with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, eating.
Physical, occupational and speech therapists help patients recover the skills they need for daily living.
Social workers help families and patients. They provide short-term counseling, put patients in touch with community resources, and other benefits.
Such services shorten hospital stays and can avoid a move to a nursing home. They can also make life easier for caregivers by allowing them to take much-needed breaks from caregiving responsibilities.
PRIVATE DUTY HOME CARE
Individuals such as private duty nurses or personal care assistants also provide care at home. If your family member doesn't need skilled health care from a nurse, you may consider hiring a home care worker either from a Home Health Service Agency or on your own. Preparing a written list of duties and responsibilities so that everyone understands what tasks need to be done is helpful. Interviewing potential providers prior to starting is suggested. Ask another family member or friend to sit in on the interview(s) and help you evaluate care providers you are considering for the job. If hiring someone on your own who is self employed, ask for a list of professional and personal references and check them. You will also need to look into tax, insurance and legal issues since the person you hire will be your employee.
Questions for Private Duty Home Care Providers
- How long have you worked in home care?
- What kinds of clients have you worked with?
- What days and hours are you available?
- Can you drive? What kind of transportation will you use?
- What were your duties at previous home care jobs?
- Do you smoke?
- What arrangements can be make in the event that you are unable to come to work?