As our parents age, more and more of their care might fall on your shoulders. As willing as we might be to help, this is a huge responsibility that can be overwhelming for even the most prepared person. Home care assistance provides you with the break you need while ensuring your loved one gets the care they need.
Trusting an outside party with your family is difficult. If you’re taking it upon yourself to vet caregivers, there are a few questions that you should ask to help you make the best choice—and to dodge any red flags.
The question: How long have you been in business? Are you licensed and carry insurance?
Making sure the caregiver is reliable and respectable is one of the first steps in looking for any kind of medical or home care for your loved one. These basic questions, among others, will help you determine just how legitimate the business is. Home care should take a weight off of your shoulders and boost your parent’s quality of life. That won’t happen if the company and its aides aren’t completely dependable.
The question: Are the caregivers your employees or independent contractors?
This is another key question for any kind of long-term care. When companies are low on staff, they will often reach out to staffing agencies to temporarily fill in the empty roles. However, these workers might provide lower levels of care because they won’t be with the company for very long and aren't invested.
A constantly changing caregiver could also confuse or irritate your loved one, especially if they have a condition like dementia.
The question: Do you create a custom care plan for every client?
Every person, home, and family is different, and each has unique needs. A company that understands this and has specialists available to help create a personalized care plan will be able to provide better care for your loved one than a company that follows a “one size fits all” mentality.
Make sure to ask who’s involved in the care plan creation and how often they update the plan.
The question: Do you provide specialized care for my loved one’s specific condition?
Providing a custom care plan means being aware of a client’s health status and providing care to suit that condition. Diseases like Parkinson’s or dementia, and even straightforward mobility assistance, all come with unique challenges that not all aides are ready to address.
The question: How much will this cost? How does payment work?
Medical care is expensive. Many companies accept Medicare, Medicaid, and various forms of insurance, but not all do. Some companies will also bill you directly, and you will have to seek reimbursement from your insurance. In some cases, you may also have to provide proof ahead of time that you can pay for the care should insurance decide not to cover it.
Beyond that, insurance may refuse to cover certain medications and medical supplies that your loved one needs, leaving you with the bill. Because of the large expense, clients and their families may qualify for a variety of grants or payment assistance plans that can alleviate some of the financial burden.
The question: How do you communicate with clients and their families?
Few things are as infuriating as not being able to get an answer about your loved one’s care from a medical facility. Even the best companies sometimes fall short when it comes to keeping clients and their families in the loop about changes in care plans, health status, and other important aspects of care.
You should be able to reach out with any concerns or questions and know you’ll get an answer. The best companies will provide you with a direct line of contact that can address your needs.
The question: Who chooses the caregiver? What if it doesn’t work out?
Companies will often assign caregivers based on the client’s needs or personality, while others might let you interview a few options and choose the best fit. However, no matter how good a match appears on paper, there’s always the chance that issues will arise once they start work. Great home care companies will be willing to swap out incompatible caregivers with a new aide.
The question: How often will caregivers come?
For most families, caregivers will only assist a few days a week. Knowing the exact schedule will give you a bit of freedom in planning for care on the other days. Aides may also only help for a set number of hours each day or week. If they reach those hours early due to an unforeseen incident, you may face additional costs for their next visit.
The question: What is your caregivers' process for managing client pain?
One of the most important parts of home care is addressing common problems that clients experience. For a wide range of health conditions, this includes managing pain. Often, this involves painkillers. Usually, they begin with mild options, but they may utilize stronger pain medications like opioids.
If this is a concern for you or your family, bring it up at the initial meeting and again with the caregiver.
The question: How soon can you place a caregiver?
With medical facilities and companies facing massive staff shortages and an ever-growing population of clients, many options have a sizable waiting list. In some cases, you may even have to go with another option while waiting for an opening from your top choice.