If you're recovering from surgery or need long-term care for a chronic illness -- or you have a loved one facing a similar situation -- you might be interested in home care services. Home care services range from skilled care provided by nurses or therapists to household support, such as cleaning, cooking and running errands.
Whether you're planning to enlist the help of a home care services agency or hire a personal home health aide, knowing what questions to ask can help ensure that you receive quality assistance.Qualifications
If you're considering a home care services agency:Is the agency licensed by the state? Most states -- but not all -- require agencies to be licensed and reviewed regularly. Reviews might be available through your state health department. Is the agency certified by Medicare to meet federal requirements for health and safety? If not, ask why. What type of employee screening is done? Can the agency provide references? Ask for a list of doctors, hospital discharge planners or other professionals who have experience with the agency.
If you're considering a home health aide:What are the aide's credentials? If he or she claims to be licensed, check with the licensing body. Can the aide provide references from at least two employers? Check them thoroughly.
Be sure to ask your or loved one's doctor, family and friends for recommendations.Quality of care
If you're considering a home care services agency:How does the agency train, supervise and monitor caregivers? Does the agency provide continuing education? Are the caregivers licensed and insured? Do the agency's employees seem friendly and helpful?
If you're considering a home health aide:Does the home health aide have a positive attitude? Are you and your loved one comfortable with the home health aide? Costs
If you're considering a home care services agency:How does the agency handle expenses and billing? Ask for literature explaining all services and fees, as well as detailed explanations of all costs associated with home care. Will agency fees be covered by health insurance or Medicare? Check to see what kind of coverage your health insurance offers. What resources does the agency provide for financial assistance, if needed? For instance, is a payment plan available?
If you're considering a home health aide:How much does the aide charge for home health services? Make sure you're comfortable with the fees and the included services. Does the aide require payment for sick days, vacation days or holidays? If so, clarify how many sick and vacation days are allowed, as well as which days are considered holidays. Understanding services
Whether you're considering a home care services agency or a home health aide, you might ask these questions about services:Will you receive a written care plan before service begins? The care plan should include details about medical equipment and specific care needs, contain input from the doctor, and be updated frequently. Will you receive a list of the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved? This is sometimes known as a patient's bill of rights. Will you or your loved one be referred to dietitians, counselors, therapists or other specialists, if needed? Will the agency work directly with you or your loved one, family members and health care providers? Must you identify a primary family caregiver? If so, what's required of that person? When will service be provided? Is care available round-the-clock, if necessary? What procedures are in place for emergencies? Ask how the agency or home health aide will deliver services in the event of a power failure or natural disaster. How are problems addressed and resolved? Whom can you or another family member contact with requests, questions or complaints? When can services begin? Monitor your home care services
After you've found a home care services provider, monitor the situation. If you're concerned about the care or services provided, discuss it promptly with the agency or home health aide. If necessary, involve your doctor or your loved one's doctor as well.