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|Questions To Ask Providers|
Once you acquire several provider options, you will want to learn more about their services and reputations. The following is a checklist of questions to ask providers and individuals who may know about the provider's track record. Their insight will help you determine which provider is best for you or your loved one.
Questions To Ask Providers
Questions for References
Know Your Needs
Before you start the task of looking for a caregiver, your first step is to determine the level of care needed. If, for example, he/she only needs help with activities of daily living like preparing meals, doing laundry, bathing, or dressing, a "homemaker" or "personal care aide" will do. But, if your loved one needs health care services, there are "home health aides" that may do all the things a homemaker does, plus they also have training in administering medications, changing wound dressings, and other medically related duties. Home health aides often work under a nurse's supervision.
Once you settle on a level of care, you then need to decide how many hours of assistance your loved one will need. For example, does he/she need someone to come in just a few mornings a week to help cook, clean, run errands, or perhaps bathe? Or does he/she need more continuous care that requires daily visits or a full-time aide? After you determine the needs, there are two ways in which you can go about hiring someone. Either through a home health agency, or you can hire someone directly on your own.
Home Health Agencies
Hiring a certified home health agency to supply and manage your loved one's care is the easiest but most expensive option of the two. Costs run anywhere from $12 up to $40 an hour depending on where you live and the qualification of the aide. This is also usually a better way to go if your loved one requires a lot of in-home health care. How it works is you pay the agency, and they handle everything including an assessment of the patient's needs, assigning appropriately trained and pre-screened staff to care for him/her, and finding a fill-in on days her aide cannot come. Some of the drawbacks, however, are that you may not have much input into the selection of the caregiver, and the caregivers may change or alternate, which can cause a disruption in care and confusion. Be sure to address these topics when your loved one is admitted to an agency.
You also need to know that while Medicare does cover some in-home health care services if ordered by a doctor, they don't cover homemaker services, nor will they cover personal care services, such as bathing and dressing, provided by a home health aide if that is the only care required. But, if your loved one is low-income and qualifies for Medicaid, some services are covered.
To locate and compare Medicare-approved home health agencies, use the Home Health Compare tool, and call (800) 633-4227 and request a free copy of the "Medicare and Home Health Care" publication (#10969) that explains coverage and how to choose an agency.
Hiring an independent caregiver on your own is the other option, and it's less expensive. Costs typically range between $10 and $20 per hour. Hiring directly also gives you more control over who you hire so you can choose someone who you feel is right for your loved one.
But, be aware that if you do hire someone on your own, you become the employer so there's no agency support to fall back on if a problem occurs or if the aide doesn't show up. You are also responsible for paying payroll taxes and any worker-related injuries that may happen. If you choose this option make sure you check the aide's references thoroughly, and do a criminal background check.
To find someone, ask for referrals through friends, doctor's offices, or hospital discharge planners. Some states even offer registries to help you locate good caregivers. Or, for a fee, an Aging Life Care Expert can help find someone.
Source: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or online at SavvySenior.org.