Understanding Options for Help: Homecare

There is an arsenal of resources available to Family Caregivers, but it is essential that you know what those resources are, and how to use them when the time comes. This week we will consider Homecare as a resource for supplementing care.

When you are caring for an aging family member, it’s vital to also care for yourself. One of the most common mistakes Family Caregivers make is their failure to involve others so the primary caregiver can take a break from time to time. Many Family Caregivers do not have other family or friends nearby to help bear the burden of care, and that may be where Homecare can help.

Sometimes referred to as Homemaker services, Homecare began to emerge as an industry more than four decades ago, and in the past dozen years, it has burgeoned as a resource for Family Caregivers. Homecare agencies provide individuals who will assist with companionship, preparing and serving meals, doing laundry, housekeeping, and running errands. More technical skills might include assistance with Activities of Daily Living such as bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility, and feeding.  “Personal Care” services require more skills. In some locations, the Homecare Agency offering them must be licensed, and in good standing, with the governing state agency which issues the license.

Currently, Medicare does not cover Homecare services. Options for payment include Long-Term Care Insurance if the policy covers this service; Medicaid may cover Homecare if your loved one qualifies for this benefit, but private pay arrangements are most common. To determine the approximate cost of care where you live, check out this website from Genworth: https://goo.gl/fpNqmK

Whether or not your state requires licensure for Homecare agencies, there are certain things that you need to know when you are choosing a reputable provider. You want to be sure that the individual who comes to your home, and the agency that employs them, is reliable, competent, and caring. Here are a few questions to ask when shopping Homecare agencies:

  • Does the organization run a background check before hiring, and continue to do random background screenings after an employee is on board?
  • Does the agency do drug testing prior to hiring and ongoing on a random basis?
  • Does the agency provide competitive pay and benefits to their caregivers, including paid time off and bonus opportunities so the aides will provide better care to their clients?
  • Does the agency check references for each employee hired; also verify certifications such as C.N.A.?
  • Does the agency provide professional level orientation and training for its employees, and continuing education to keep its employees on the cutting edge of their field?
  • Does the agency have 24/7 phone coverage for both clients and caregivers so that after-hours issues can be handled in a timely fashion?

For a complete list of features to look for in an excellent Homecare company, please leave a comment below and request our document: Homecare: what to look for when you need it.

Finally, we always recommend that you use an agency when looking for care that supplements what you are providing. While private duty caregivers may be less expensive, the burden or organizing care will fall to the Family Caregiver, and if the private duty caregiver becomes ill or needs a day off, you will need to come up with a backup plan. Also, you will need to manage the taxes and other employment withholdings with a household employee, whereas with an agency all of these problems go away.

Last fall we talked about the need to keep yourself healthy so you can give the best care to your loved one. Finding help so you can take a break is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself healthy. If Homecare is your best option for this, then find a good one and start a relationship. It can make a world of difference to you and those in your care!

 

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