Home care is the fastest growing segment of the healthcare industry. Some of the factors driving this expansion are a growing elderly population, preference of individuals to receive services in the comfort of their own home and the need to control medical costs.
Home care is a cost-effective alternative to extended hospital and nursing home stays. Home care services are provided through a variety of providers whether independently owned or associated with hospitals, nursing homes, or public health departments. Home care is a health care option offering a broad range of medical care and support services provided in the home. A team of skilled professionals provides specialized care under a physician’s direction within the patients’ homes. Care may include skilled nursing care, special therapy and assistance with personal care. Physicians often order home care after hospitalization or after a period of general mental instability. Because selecting a home health provider is the personal choice of the patient or caregiver, it is important to know about home health care and the services the agency provides.
You have the right to make decisions about your health care including who provides your home care. The following is a checklist of questions to ask agencies and other individuals familiar with home care. Their insight will help you determine which agency is best for you or your loved one.
1. First and foremost, find out how long the agency has been serving the community. Then proceed with the following questions.
2. Is the agency state-licensed? Medicare/Medicaid certified? Accredited by The Joint Commission or CHAP (Community Health Accreditation Program)?
3. Does the agency accept your medical insurance or your long term care insurance?
4. Does the agency supply literature describing its services, eligibility requirements, fees and payment plan options? Many agencies furnish patients with a detailed “Patient Bill of Rights” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the agencies, patients, and caregivers alike.
5. How long will you have to wait for services after requesting a visit?
6. Will the agency inform you of your financial responsibilities, in writing, prior to giving care?
7. How does the agency select and train its employees? Do the employees work directly for the agency? Does the agency perform background checks (ie. Police & Drug)?
8. Do nurses or therapists evaluate and coordinate the patient’s home care needs? If so, what does this involve? Do they consult the patient’s physician and family members?
9. Does the agency include the patient and his/her family members in developing the plan of care? Are they involved in making care plan changes?
10. Does the agency supervise the staff?
11. Who can the patient and his/her family members call with questions/concerns/complaints? How does the agency follow up and resolve these issues?
12. What procedures does the agency have in place to handle emergencies? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week? How does the agency ensure patient confidentiality?