There is any number of reasons you may be in a position where you need a home health care provider.
For example, a family member being the victim of a semi-truck accident is one reason, a chronic illness is another, or perhaps having an aging family member who can still live independently but needs help are all some of the factors contributing to the need for home health care.
It’s a big decision because you need to trust the person at the highest level.
The following are some tips to choose a provider.
First, you need to start with vital qualifications as you compare providers.
For example, is the agency licensed in your state? You can find out by checking with the health department in your state. Most states do require licensing, but not all.
Does Medicare certify the agency? Medicare certification indicates the agency meets federal health and safety requirements.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports on the quality of home health care agencies. If an agency has a score above a three, it’s usually a pretty indicator they’ll provide good care.
CMS also reports on patient satisfaction scores. These ratings are based on the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey. It looks at safety, communication, and other measures.
How does the agency screen its employees?
What are the credentials of not just the company but the aide? Is the care provider licensed, and can that person provide you with references from at least two employers?
You should absolutely check references when they’re provided.
Even before you do the above steps, you should also make sure you know exactly what you need.
There are a lot of different types of home health care and areas of specialty.
Once you know for sure what you need, you can begin by asking for recommendations from people you know personally.
While the quality of care, reputation, and safety should be top concerns, home health care can be expensive and the cost is a consideration.
First, you’ll want to ask how the agency deals with billing and expenses. They should be able to provide you with documentation as far as their fees and services, and explanations of all costs.
You’ll need to see if your health insurance will cover all the needed services, or you’ll have to be familiar with Medicare requirements. Some Medicare requirements mean that your loved one will have to be homebound to receive services.
Does the home health agency have financial assistance like payment plans available?
Again, get all of this information in writing.
Once you get to the point where you’ve completed the above steps, you should have a shortlist of providers you’re interested in, and you can conduct interviews.
Aim to interview at least three or four agencies or health aides.
You should interview them in person, if at all possible. Otherwise, you might conduct virtual interviews, but regardless you want to be face-to-face in some capacity.
Depending on how the service or agency is set up, you may be speaking to a representative, or you might talk to someone who will actually be providing care.
If you’re speaking to an agency representative, questions to ask include:
- What type of experience do caregivers typically have when they’re hired?
- Are background checks performed when a provider is hired? Are their credentials verified? Are they tested for drugs?
- How are caregivers trained, and then how is their competency verified?
- Will there be a consistent caregiver, or will they rotate?
- Who’s the caregiver’s direct supervisor going to be, and how will they hold the caregiver(s) accountable?
- Does the caregiver have CPR certification?
At some home health agencies, there will be a registered nurse who provides oversight to all home health care aides.
Other questions to consider include whether or not individualized care plans are provided and how much the provider plans to involve the patient and the patient’s family members as they develop a plan of care.
You should ask what happens if you aren’t happy with the care and how changes can be made if necessary.
Be cautious if you’re asked to enter into a contractual relationship because this may provide you with fewer options if your situation changes in the future or you want to change providers.
It’s a big decision as you hire a home health care provider, so take your time, check references, and know what questions to ask along the way.