How to Choose the Right Home Care Provider
"Mary, how do I know which home care provider to choose for Mom? There are so many choices, and I want to make the very best decision. Do I focus on price? How do I determine quality? Is there some other criteria I should use?" - READER
Thank you for your question. You seem very aware that finding the right solution will require some research. I recommend that you first identify what exactly it is you are looking for, focusing on which problems, specifically, you wish for home care to solve. This sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people lose sight of important details during such an emotional time in people’s lives.
- Are you looking for restorative care that requires physical therapy, medication teaching, injections, wound care, infusions, or other treatments designed to restore an individual to his or her prior state?
- Are you seeking maintenance care to keep someone safely at home who, without home care, may need facility placement?
- Are you looking for household care to provide food, lawn care, or other housekeeping services?
These are three very different types of home care. The first requires a license, usually certified, sometimes an accredited home health provider who can bill an insurance company. Number two can be provided by a licensed or non-licensed provider. Currently, about 50% of states require licensure for this type of care. Housekeeping, lawn care, meal preparation or other household tasks do not require any form of regulated licensure.
The following action-items will help you select a home care provider:
- Seek multiple referrals for providers from the hospital or referring physician. They work with several providers and have witnessed the effects of their care. He or she will be an excellent source of information.
- Check all of your insurances to determine if you have coverage and which providers are under contract with them.
- Find out if there are out-of-pocket costs or care that is not covered by insurance. It is possible that insurance will cover some services but not all.
Next, make a short list and phone-interview each provider. check out their website and online reviews. When you call, you should ask:
Are you licensed, certified, and accredited?
Are your employees bonded?
When was your company established?
How many patients do you serve?
How many staff members do you have?
When can you start?
What do you do if a staff member cannot make it to the home?
How will services be billed? Do you have a contract with your insurances?
What do you charge?
Next, sit back and evaluate how you felt talking with each provider.
If you do a little bit of homework in a methodical way, you will know which provider to choose. By interviewing and getting your questions answered in advance, the decision will come to you naturally.
I would like to remind you that you can switch care providers at any time, as you are rarely locked in. In fact, do not sign any contract that commits you to use a provider for a specific period of time. If one situation does not work out, try another.
As for determining quality, I believe that you will know quality when you see and experience it. Go with a professionally-run organization that has taken the steps to distinguish themselves, and you will likely have a good experience.
I wish you success on your home care journey.
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