Non-Medical In-Home Care Service Might Be The Answer

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by Cindy Harris, CSA, owner, Comfort Keepers

“My mother lives at home, but daily activities are starting to get difficult for her. She has arthritis in her hips and knee. She’s already fallen three times. We’ve moved her upstairs bedroom to the downstairs area, but laundry, shopping and getting into the tub are still too much for her. I am so worried about her living alone. She doesn’t want to leave her house.”

Does this story sound familiar? Unfortunately, for many families it does. The family is struggling with how to care for an elderly, frail relative. The relative is unsafe at home, but admitting them to a nursing home is too severe. Many older adults want to age in their own home. This is when home care can be beneficial. Services range from companion help to around-the-clock hospice care.

Because so many seniors wish to remain in the home and community that holds a lifetime of memories, a wide variety of home care services have evolved in recent years to make this feasible.

What is non-medical in-home care?

Home care typically refers to non-medical services that assist individuals with activities of daily living. Home care is an increasingly popular choice because it enables individuals to remain in their own environments.

For example, simple tasks such as housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation or driving to appointments can become increasingly difficult for many older adults. Personal tasks such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting and even transferring from the bed to a chair can become unmanageable alone. Trained and agency-supervised individuals provide such services. In general, home care providers are available every day, around the clock. They may work by themselves or as part of a team on a shift, part-time, hourly, as live-in help or on an as-needed basis.

For many seniors and adults requiring care, having an in-home care provider is the difference between staying at home and living in a nursing home.

Reputable in-home care agencies employ their caregivers and provide a series of employee screenings. When you first meet with the contracted in-home care service provider, you will work out a schedule and a list of duties the caregiver will perform. This ensures personalized care of your loved one, meeting their exact needs and schedule.

How to pay for care?

Most in-home care is private pay, which means the client, and/or the family is responsible for payment. Although some families are able to fund non-medical in-home care through long-term care insurance, Medicaid programs or other payer sources, the majority of non-medical in-home care is private pay. Hourly rates will vary substantially by market and the type of care provided.

Because the caregiver comes to the home, living independently in familiar surroundings remains possible. As an added benefit, the caregiver provides the senior something that may be missing — companionship.

There are also organizations that offer additional in-home services such as a personal emergency response system, which provides easy-to-use alert systems for seniors and disabled persons with an aim to promote safe and independent living.

Many children of aging parents choose non-medical in-home care because it offers them a level of peace-of-mind knowing their loved ones are cared for.

Some questions to ask:

• How many years has your agency been in business serving the local community?

• Does your agency carry liability insurance coverage?

• Are caregivers screened, including reference checks, criminal background checks, credit and driving record checks?

• Are your caregivers employed by your company (not contractors) and protected by Workers’ Compensation?

• Are your caregivers bonded and insured?

• Do you have a systematic method for tracking caregiver arrival and departure times at the client’s home?

• Do you provide 24-hour telephone service for handling emergencies during after hours, weekends and holidays?

• Do you provide back-up coverage in case a caregiver cannot make it to work?

• Does your agency require a minimum number of hours per shift? If so, what is the minimum?

• Does your non-medical care include personal care assistance (i.e. bathing, incontinence care, and mobility assistance) if needed?

• Does your agency maintain a business office where I can stop by and meet you and the office staff?

• Do you publish the care services provided and rates that clearly describe all fees?

• Do you provide written statements (invoices) identifying in detail all services and associated costs and will you assist with billing my long-term care insurance?

• Does your agency make periodic supervisory visits to a client’s home?

• Are you willing to provide documentation that states the rights and responsibilities of the client, and explains the company’s privacy policy, code of ethics, and HIPAA compliance?

• Can you provide emergency monitoring systems, fall protection devices, and/or automated medication dispensers if needed?

• Will your agency provide a free in-home assessment prior to starting services?

• Are you certified by any government agency to provide homecare?

• How quickly can your agency initiate services for my loved one or me?

• Do you have a system allowing me to view my or my relative’s schedule from my computer at any time I wish to view it?

To learn more, call Comfort Keepers at (928) 774-0888.

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