13 Best Questions To Ask A Home Health Care Provider Or Private Duty Caregiver Before Hiring Them For Your Elderly Family Member

home caregivers for elderly seniors

Finding a competent Home Health Care provider to help take care of you or your loved one is usually a challenging task. People have often been left feeling shortchanged and disappointed when the home health care provider they have spent a lot of time and resources to hire turned out to be inadequate for the job.

We did a little research interviewing, seniors and family members to get insight on how to best choose the appropriate home health care provider or private duty caregiver for seniors living at home needing assistance.

What is Home Health Care?

First lets talk about ” What is Home Health Care? “. This is a type of health service in which health care is provided to clients in the comfort of their home, regardless of the type (i.e. private home, assisted living facility, etc.) or where it is located. Home Health Care providers serve a wide range of services.

Basically, it focuses on tending to the medical needs and activities of daily living of the individual. Home health care services are rendered by skilled medical personnel as well as non-medical caregivers. The medical personnel, such as licensed nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists, give medical and physical aid to patients whose health status necessitates the attention of a skilled healthcare professional.

On the other hand, non-medical caregivers are there to provide company and personal care to the client. These services are usually available to everyone, from infants to aged ones. However you find they are more in demand for people over the age of 60+.

Home Health Care services usually include the following:

  • General home-keeping
  • Companion Care
  • Provision of medical care
  • Alzheimer’s Care
  • Post Hospitalization Care
  • Long Term Care
  • In Home Rehabilitation Therapy
  • Private Health Care
  • Senior Home Care
  • Health Care for Medical Conditions
  • Telecare

The types of services rendered by the Home Health Care providers are diverse and vary from one provider to the other. It is advisable that you surf through the website of the provider, if they have one, as this will enable you to check the services they have to offer.

The services a Home Care Provider offers could be in the form of request-based sporadic visits, regular scheduled meetings or full-time presence. Usually, a good agency will, with proper consultation and cooperation of your doctor, take time to assess the kind of health care you or your loved one will require and will refer you to another agency if they cannot offer the type of Health Care service that you need.

Also, the operation of some providers is restricted to certain geographical areas and they will refer you elsewhere if your location does not fall within their zone of operation.

It is necessary for you to have detailed discussions about the services that you want as well as what to expect from the provider’s employee(s) who will be looking after you or your loved one.

Interviewing The Home Health Care Provider

Most of these home care agencies have representatives who are charged with the task of orienting clients about their services. You should ensure that the provider as well as the caregiver is the perfect match for you or your loved one. You also want to make sure they have the right credentials to provide medical service to you or your loved one. Try to explore and interview a lot of home care agencies to determine which will be the best fit.

Here, we have made a list of some of the questions you should ask when deciding or choosing a healthcare provider.

  • What types of services are provided by the home care agency?

  • How experienced are the staff ?

  • Has the Agency been in the business for quite a while? Are they insured?

  • Can they make a “Patient’s Bill of Rights” available for you to assess?

  • Is the operation of the agency restricted to a specific service or age bracket?

  • Can the home care service provide mobility assistance should that need come up?

  • Is the agency licensed and in compliance with State and Federal laws?
    You must request for license info and verify that the agency is duly registered. A red flag indicates that they are not registered or licensed. 

  • What are the criteria employed by the home care agency to hire their caregivers?
    An important condition for the issuance of a license is that background checks and enquiries must be conducted on the caregivers. It is important that you know what these checks entail. 

  • You might also want to know about the continuous training that these caregivers undergo because it also has an impact on healthcare.

  • Who is the head of the Home Health Care services in the agency? How frequently will they be in touch with you?

  • How does the agency work during holidays?

  • What will happen should there be a problem with the caregiver assigned to you? Is there a contingency plan if the caregiver fails to show up?

  • What happens if you just do not seem to like the caregiver or if you fail to develop a good rapport with the home care agency?

  • How do you pay for the services provided? Is it possible to make use of Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s benefits or insurance for this service?

Payment Methods

You should ask about the cost of the service. The home care agency will ask you about how you intend to pay for the services provided. Ask about the payment plans that you can use to pay for these services. A good agency will try to look at all possible payment plans so as to ease the burden of payment on the client.

Frequently Used Home Health Care Terms:

Below are some terms to familiarize yourself with when you are speaking to home care agencies and providers. This will help you understand some of the terminology that might be used in conversations with providers during phone or in person interviews.

Hands-off Care:

  • Non-medical Care: this includes general assistance in the house such as minor housekeeping, medication reminders, preparation of food, etc. It was previously known as “non-skilled care”.

  • Personal Care: such as bathing, cleaning, brushing, dressing and other activities of daily living.

Hands-on Care:

  • Medical Care: services which include mobility aid, recovery services, administration of medication, care of wounds and injuries, exercise-based therapy, and so on are classified under this category. It was originally known as “skilled care”.

  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL): this is the term used to describe a series of day-to-day self care exercises which include eating, washing, dressing, excreting, locomotion, and regulation. ADL limitations, which can either be transient or long-lasting, can be caused by events such as accident, chronic illness or old-age.Health care professionals provide assistance if activities cannot be adequately performed.

  • Companion: a companion is someone who performs a non-therapeutic role for the client. Companions are tasked with carrying out duties such as mobility assistance, arrangement and organization of the home, medication reminders, and so on.

  • Home Care: this include every type of care given to a client at home, be it medical or non-medical.

  • Home Health Aide: this is a person who renders non-medical services to people.

  • Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL): the normal activities that a typical individual performs on their own on any given day. Such activities include driving, care of the house, use of the phone, proper usage of medication, etc.

  • Private Duty/Home Care Nurse: this is a nurse who spends more than two hours per visit to an individual and renders skilled nursing services to them under the direction of a doctor.

  • Respite Care: this is a form of service in which a health care provider takes over from a primary caregiver (e.g. family member), usually for a short period of time but occasionally for long periods, so as to allow the primary caregiver to take a break.

  • Therapy: this might be in the form of speech, physical or medical rehabilitation.

  • Specialty Trained Staff: these are registered health workers who are trained for specific forms of treatment. Examples include physiotherapists, IV therapists, occupational therapists, etc.

Hopefully this helps you and serves as a reference should in case you need to hire a private duty care giver or a home health care agency to provide home care services to you or your loved one.

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Author: Samuel

Samuel is a physical therapist with over 20 years medical experience. He has extensive knowledge in functional rehabilitation in the acute care hospital and in-home care settings. He has spent most of his career helping seniors transition from hospital or rehab care to living independently at home. In his free time he likes to travel and read autobiographies.

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