How do I select the right care provider?

NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) -- One of the most commonly asked questions family caregivers have when first thinking about implementing in-home support for a loved one at their personal residence is, "How do I select the right home care provider?"

Once you acquire the names of potential in-home care providers, you will want to learn more about their services and reputations. One such way to ensure that you are being referred to an agency of excellence is by reaching out to Transitions GuidingLights Caregiver Support Center, a nonprofit that provides free referral education and support to family caregivers through a list of vetted organizations.

Usually what is first and foremost in the minds of the family caregiver is the cost of this type of service. There are several ways to pay for home care services, but you need to remember: just like with most things in life, you get what you pay for! Focusing solely on cost as the primary decision-making factor may lead to dissatisfaction and frustration.

The cost of caring for a loved one frequently comes as an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. Many people assume that private insurances or even Medicare will pay for the long-term needs of their loved ones but unfortunately that is simply not the case.

Typically, home care (also known as non-medical care) and private duty care is paid for out of pocket. The type of care that your loved one most likely needs to remain independent and at home is known in the healthcare industry as "custodial care" which provides assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, grooming, transportation, meal preparation, and even light housekeeping. Medicaid, as well as some long-term care insurance policies, will cover some of the costs if your loved one meets stringent qualifications.

Use this guide when you have your list of names of agencies ready to call. These are just suggestions, but they may help you if you're in unfamiliar territory. Never forget that voice inside and if there is something that just does not feel right, move on and go to the next agency on your list.

1. How long has this provider been serving the community and are they licensed by the state?
2. How does this provider select and train its employees and what is the turnover rate? These details are super important because continuity of care equals better outcomes.
3. Does the home care agency protect its workers with written personnel policies, benefits packages, and malpractice insurance? Some agencies out there look and act like licensed agencies but in fact they are NOT and utilizing them may in the short term save you some pennies but the long-term risk if there is an injury or accident in the home to either your loved one or the worker could prove to be incredibly financially traumatic.
4. Are nurses or aides required to evaluate the patient's home care needs? If so, what does this entail? Do they consult the patient's physicians and family members? Do they charge a fee for the assessment?
5. Have the agency describe how they work with other community-based services that you may have coming into the home. How do they demonstrate that they are team players?
6. Does this provider include the patient and family members in developing the plan of care? Are they involved in making care plan changes?
7. Is the patient's course of treatment documented, detailing the specific tasks to be carried out by each professional caregiver? Does the patient and his or her family receive a copy of this plan, and do the caregivers update it as changes occur? Does this provider take time to educate family members on the care being administered to your loved one?

If you have found yourself in a journey providing support to a loved one, know that WTVD has devoted content to help you navigate life's transitions.

Find the Caregivers Corner here for useful tips.

We also have an online community of family caregivers sharing information, support and valuable resources. You can join by following this link:
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