10 Top Questions to Ask an in Home Health Care Agency

About Senior Care

Finding the right in home health care agency that provides senior home care can cause stress and anxiety to a family caregiver. Many times the home health care provider is set up by the discharge planner or social worker at the hospital. There are also times when a family care giver wants to make arrangements for in home health care.

Many family members providing care for elderly in home settings find a need for outside help. Family caregivers are often reluctant to have inside help, because they fear that they will not be able to find good help. I think that it is important for family caregiver to understand that in home health care can be a blessing and give you peace of mind. Everything that has so many pluses also has some minuses. Education is the key to preventing mistake.

I am here to help you prevent making mistakes and enjoy the benefits of senior home care. I have created a list of over 30 questions to ask, I will share 10 of them with you today. I feeI I must first address that there are two categories of in home health care as determined by Medicare guidelines.They are skilled care or custodial care.

Skilled care requires a doctor’s order and refers to a medical or more intense need such as nursing, social services and therapy (physical, occupational or speech). Custodial care refers to help with bathing, dressing, and cooking, cleaning and shopping or even companionship. There is a different type of home health care provider for each level of service needed.

How is the agency licensed or accredited? I like to ask this question because accreditations are the organizations that set the standards for the industry. Many organizations must have these accreditations in order to receive reimbursement by long term care insurance providers. I will tell you not all agencies are accredited even though they meet all the requirements. Some agencies choose not to go through the process as it is time consuming and very expensive. I would not rule an organization out if the rest of the interview goes well.

More of the top 10 questions to ask an in home health care agency about senior home care

How long has the in home health care agency been in business? It is important that you deal with an organization that has a solid reputation and the people that work in that organization are individuals that belong and are know to the community.

What kind of criminal background checks are performed for prospective employees? Are employee references checked? How many? Are personnel files updated annually? These are very important questions. Too many times agencies hire employees and allow them to start work before their background checks have come back to meet the demands of the industry. This can be disastrous.

Are the employees bonded and insured? Does that protect the family in case of theft or accidents? What type of training does the company provide to employees? This is an important question if you have an aging senior with a disease specific diagnosis such as dementia, vision or hearing impaired, diabetes etc.

Does the agency offer a free home health care consultation by a registered nurse prior to start of service? If you are considering custodial services this may not be considered part of the services offered. When it is, consider it an extra bonus. A professional nurse adds a different perspective and may be able to recommend a higher level of care when needed.

Does the agency provide a plan of care in writing for clients? How much say does the family have in the plan of care? These two questions are very important on many levels. A written plan of care gives everyone goals and expectations. The family involvement in developing the plan of care gives the aging senior and caregiver a sense of control over the situation. This also gives the family a clear understanding of the expectations of the duties that will be preformed and something to refer to so that there is no confusion about those duties.

There are many questions to ask an in home health care agency about senior home care. Asking those questions Taking the time and investigating resources can keep the aging senior in your life at home for as long as possible.

5 Things To Consider When Integrating Your Home Health Care With Medicare

Medicare can be perplexing, all the more so when you combine complex health issues and the need for medical aids such as oxygen or hospital beds. While the insurance maze can be difficult to traverse, an estimated 47.5 million people received this program in 2010, which is more than a sixth of the nation’s population.

Here is a brief overview and some answers to some commonly asked questions regarding Medicare and home health care.

1. Who qualifies?

Medicare is a national health insurance program provided by the U.S. government for those who are:

– 65 and older

– Under 65 with certain disabilities

– Diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a form of permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant

2. What types of services does Medicare cover?

Medicare has four different coverage sections: Part A, B, C, and D. “Original Medicare” consists of Part A & B, while Part C is known as “Medicare Advantage Plan”. These four parts are summarized briefly:

– Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

* Part A covers care while in hospital as well as health care in skilled nursing facilities, home health care, and hospice.

– Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance

* Part B covers doctor’s visits as well as visits to other health care providers. Additionally, Part B covers hospital outpatient care, durable medical equipment (like intravenous infusion devices), and home health care services. Part B also covers specific types of preventative services, such as getting certain vaccinations.

– Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage

* Part C combines health plan options you purchase from other private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Part C also integrates Medicare Prescription drug coverage (Part D) and can be tailored to include extra benefits at an extra cost.

– Medicare Part D: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

* Part D covers the prescription of Medicare-approved prescription drugs and can lower the cost of other medications. Similar to Part C, Medicare-approved private insurance companies also run Part D.

3. Why do I need to choose between Medicare plans?

The choice of “Original Medicare” (Parts A & B) entails payment of monthly premiums for part B and may necessitate additional coverage to pay deductibles and coinsurance to see physicians, hospitals, and other providers who accept Medicare. If you require Prescription drug coverage, you must pay a monthly premium to join the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

The “Medicare Advantage Plan” (Part C, which covers Part A & B), also requires the payment of monthly premiums in addition to the Part B premium & a copayment for in-plan doctors, hospitals. If prescription medications are not covered by your supplemental coverage, you have the option of joining the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

As with prescription medications, you can purchase supplemental coverage to cover services not covered by Medicare. The “Original Medicare” plan allows for the option of buying Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), while the “Medicare Advantage Plan” does not.

It is prudent to always check if you can take advantage of other additional coverage through your employer or union, military, or Veteran’s benefits.

4. Is home health care covered by Medicare?

The Medicare website states, “Medicare only covers home health care on a limited basis as ordered by your doctor”. As reviewed earlier, Parts A & B are the Medicare options which cover the home health care services specified by Medicare.

Coverage of home health care by Medicare in New Mexico stipulates you must meet the following criteria:

– You are currently receiving regular services from a physician. This physician must also maintain a care plan unique to you, which is reviewed regularly.

– Your physician must certify a “need” for specific medical services such as requirements for intravenous medication therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, or speech-language pathology services.

– The home health care agency providing you services must be Medicare-certified (for more details see below).

– Your physician must certify your health status as homebound, which is indicated by the following:

* Your health condition limits you from leaving the house.

* You are unable travel from home without help (i.e. transportation assistance such as aids or individuals).

* Leaving your home takes considerable effort and may be detrimental to your health condition.

5. My home health company does not take Medicare, why is this?

The Medicare-approval process is lengthy and costly, so while it may appear that many companies may not take Medicare, they may actually be in the process of becoming Medicare certified.

Furthermore, the Medicare criteria for individual qualifying to receive home health care are very strict; the reality is that many people who may apply for coverage by Medicare for their approved home health company services will not actually receive coverage. Currently, Medicare pays only about half of all health care costs to seniors. Medicare very often denies payment due to not meeting criteria, so it is essential to be aware if you meet these criteria prior to restricting yourself exclusively to Medicare-approved home health care companies.

Home Health Care, an Alternative to Nursing Homes

More and more people are choosing home health care as an alternative to entering assisted living facilities. There are different levels of care available to individuals who wish to remain in their homes but who need a little extra help. Having these options make it possible for lots of folks to stay in their houses longer and live their own lives. There are several compelling reasons families are choosing this for their loved ones.

Better for the Well-Being of the Patient

Studies have shown that being allowed to stay at home and to maintain some level of independence is better for the patient’s overall health. Feeling “put away” can cause feelings of depression or hopelessness, which in turn may cause increased health problems. If a patient has a say in their own care, they feel much better and their body can recover and heal more efficiently. This is true even if they do decide to enter a nursing home, but simply having the option is a big help.

Comfortable and Convenient

When the time comes when someone needs a little special attention or care, it is important for them to be as comfortable as possible. A big change in their health condition is stressful enough. Sometimes, the best decision is to make sure they can stay in their own home where everything is familiar, so that there aren’t as many drastic changes all at once.

Not having to pack a bag or decide what can stay or go is another benefit to home health care. Everything is as it always was, but now there is someone there to help with the details.

Affordable

The old stereotype about home health care is that it is not affordable except for the super-rich. This is not at all the case. An ever increasing number of health insurance providers are covering this type of care, and certain government programs can offer financial assistance.

Easier on Families

Home health care is a wonderful blessing for couples who need help for one person but not the other. The couple can stay together in their own home, but without the pressure of one person having to provide constant assistance to the other. The strain is off the partner, and the couple can simply enjoy being together. This also has health benefits for the partner.

Kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters might be helping out with the health care needs of an individual just so they can stay at home. With a home health care provider, the patient will receive professional assistance. The family members also benefit, because when they come to visit they can just spend quality time together instead of concerning themselves with all the health issues.

Home health care is a welcome option for many folks who are trying to decide how to plan for the future in light of their physical requirements. While a nursing home is still a very good option for many people, it is reassuring that there are choices out there to fit everyone’s individual needs.

8 Questions to Ask Your Home Health Care Agency Or Nurse

If you are in the process of finding a home care services agency or if you are considering hiring a home care nursing aide or a home health care physical therapist or occupational therapist, it is critical to find out their qualifications.

We assembled a list of 8 questions you can ask the home care agency to ensure that you are choosing the right provider for your needs.

1) What is the background of the home care company & how long have they been in business?

You want to find a reputable in home nursing agency that has been in business for a number of years and has a successful track record. Most newer home nursing care agencies haven’t been around long enough to build a proven track record or a list of red flags.

So, it’s important to find out as much information about the company as possible. You can do this by finding information on who owns the company and what role the ownership plays in the type and levels of service.

2) What are the home nursing care agencies qualifications, certifications, experience and training of their home care aides and nurses?

It’s extremely important to find out about the credentials of the home health aides and nurses that the home care company sends to your home.

Make sure their home health aides and nurses are certified and have received adequate training.

3) How does the home nursing care agency monitor care and can the family provide feedback?

Find out if there are any quality assurance measures in place. Many home health care agencies periodically visit the home of the client or make regular calls to gather client feedback.

If this is not the case, find out how a family member can provide feedback on the quality of care or who they may contact in the home care agency to have any questions answered.

4) Are there any home visits or assessments that take place prior to home health care services beginning?

Find out if there are any options available that allow the family members, client and the home care agency representative to meet prior to the start of services. Most reputable home nursing care agencies offer free consultations.

5) Does the agency have a current operating license in their respective state or city?

It is important to find out if the home health care agency has a current and valid license to operate in their respective city or state. This often overlooked aspect is the most important factor in choosing a home health care agency.

6) How does the home nursing care company work with your doctor in developing a plan of care?

Most agencies work directly with your doctor in planning for your care, especially if the client requires care that is beyond the scope of activities related to activities of daily living.

7) Can the home care company provide references or testimonials?

Most reputable home health care companies can provide references from doctors, nurses, social workers and even clients if requested. They may even have a page on their website that is dedicated to providing this type of information to potential clients.

8) What happens if a home health aide or nurse is absent from the agency on a particular day?

If the home health care provider is required to take a day off for illness or another emergency, what type of protocol is put in place by the home health care company to cover the absence?

There are usually plans put in place to ensure that the client receives that continuity of care in the event of an absence by their home care provider or nurse.

What to Look for in a Home Health Care Provider

Anyone in need of home health care deserves non-medical care or in home medical care that is compassionate whether the patient is a child, adult or elder. Home health care services are provided anywhere except for in nursing homes or a hospital. These services may even be provided at an assisted living facility, a school, apartment or house.

As far as care plans go, there are a wide variety of personal care and nursing services that are not just available, they are tailored for the needs of each individual recipient. Customized care plans and follow up assessments should be provided by a registered nurse.

Nursing Supervision and Case Management

The care that is provided by personal care assistants and home health aides is typically supervised by a registered nurse. One of these registered nurses should be on call at all times in order to assist the caregivers as well as to provide medical training and oversight and to implement the plans of care.

Elder or Adult Care

Are you aware of the fact that 75% of the health care costs in the US are incurred by only 12% of Americans? These people generally have some type of chronic illness. The benefits of this type of individualized home care include much more than just being able to keep someone at home for their illness as opposed to being institutionalized or put in a long term care facility. As far as cost goes, home care visits are roughly only 10% of what a single day in the hospital will cost.

Additionally, home health care has a track record that has been proven when it comes to things such as reducing readmissions to the hospital, expensive visits to the emergency room and in managing chronic illnesses. In addition, there is scientific evidence that has proven that patients are able to heal faster when they are in their own homes. Both morbidity and mortality rates are reduced in patients who take advantage of home health care. In fact, 90% of seniors facing long term care in nursing homes prefer to stay home and get the services of a home health care provider.

Private Elder Care Coordination, Planning and Management

This involves both advising and then assisting families when it comes to determining the necessities of an aging adult. These caregivers are able to navigate many of the long term type of care resources that are available in your area. The goal here is to educate and inform the family of what the options are and them to assist them with the implementation of their decision. Typically this is done by an RN who has been certified and specially trained in the area of geriatrics who can provide:

The services of being a liaison for family members who may live a great distance away
Educating and advocating for the patient
Assisting with paperwork and forms that are related to insurance, medical assistant and Medicare
Screening, arranging for and then monitoring any in home help or options for institutional or residential care options
Care planning that is tailored to the patient