In the fall of 2012, Hebrew SeniorLife gathered together geriatric thought-leaders, researchers and physicians for our inaugural "You and Your Aging Parents" program, an important discussion about the steps one should take to help aging parents as they make decisions regarding health and well-being. Overwhelmingly positive response indicates the need for this information and Hebrew SeniorLife continues to offer this program. Check our events listing for upcoming events.
In addition, we published expert advice from the first program in an ebook, “You and Your Aging Parents,” which Hebrew SeniorLife is offering as a free downloadable pdf. The discussion also inspired our “You and Your Aging Parents” blog series, a series that includes this blog post and covers the various issues and concerns you may encounter as you and your parent/s continue on the journey of aging.
How do I evaluate home care and home health care services?
Critical to all evaluations is the safety and well-being of the individual who will be receiving the care. In Massachusetts, all home care providers are required to conduct a criminal background check on employees. For Medicare certified home health care providers, quality and patient satisfaction measures are standardized and publicly reported on the Medicare website. You can get a Home Care Compare report at www.medicare.gov that provides a snapshot of how an agency compares to other providers in your area.
Obtaining evaluation data in Massachusetts can be challenging because the state does not license or regulate private home health care agencies. Information on or complaints about providers may be available through the Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau.
Here are some questions you can ask to evaluate which services are best for your loved one. By asking these questions in advance, you will be able to identify a home health care agency that is the right fit and resource to ensure your family member is comfortable, safe and engaged.
- Outline your specific needs and expectations. Evaluating your options is easier when you’re clear about requirements (ex. What types of tasks require assistance? What is the best personality fit for your loved one? What can you afford?)
- Ask family, friends and coworkers for references – they are a valuable source for subjective information that you can use to evaluate home care services.
- Consider how quickly an agency responds to your inquiries and requests.
- Make unscheduled visits to observe the agency personnel in action and notice how they interact with your loved one.
- Trust your own gut based on your personal experience. Remember that the family member receiving care may be the least vocal and more inhibited in expressing their issues or concerns.
- Review the agency hiring practices and personnel policies. At Hebrew SeniorLife Home Care, for example, every person we hire is supervised, has undergone a CORI check and is insured. Also check that policies are in place for illness and vacation to ensure there will not be a lapse in coverage if an aide is unavailable.
Ultimately evaluating home health care is easier when you are clear at the outset about your needs and expectations. What types of tasks require assistance? What type of aide will fit best with the personality of the client? What information do you need to be part of the care plan? How do you want to be communicated with? If more services are needed over time, can the agency of your choice provide them? How often are you going to communicate with the agency to receive updates?
Supportive care is costly, so it is important to be realistic about financial resources, know the extent of your resources and clearly outline your care goals.
To download your copy of our “You and Your Aging Parent” ebook, visit our website, www.agingredefined.org.