In addition to being Estate Planning Awareness Month, it's also Long-Term Care Planning Month. So as the season changes, it's an important time to evaluate what changes may be coming for those you love, and how you can protect those that need it most – specifically aging loved ones.
Perhaps you have realized that you simply can't continue to provide adequate care to your loved one. Or maybe your loved one lives far away and your responsibilities at home won't allow you to serve as caregiver. In either case, you may need to turn to a professional home care provider. The question is, how do you choose the right person for this important task?
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has created a valuable checklist with questions you should ask providers and others who may be familiar with the provider's history. Here are some of the questions NAHC recommends.
- How long has the provider served the community?
- Does the provider have literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources? Does the provider have what is known as a “Patient Bill of Rights” outlining the responsibilities and rights of the provider, caregiver and patient?
- How does the provider choose and train its caregivers?
- Are therapists or nurses used to evaluate the patient's needs? If so, do they consult with the patient's family members and physicians?
- Does the provider include the patient and members of his or her family in developing a care plan? If changes to the level of care are needed over time, are patients and family members involved in making these decisions?
- Is the patient's course of treatment documented? Does the patient receive a copy of this documentation, and do the caregivers update it as changes occur? Does the provider take the time necessary to educate family members on the care being provided to the patient?
- Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients receive in their homes? If so, how often do these supervisors make visits? Who can the patient and his or her family members contact with questions or complaints? How does the provider follow up on and resolve any problems that might arise?
- What are the provider's billing procedures? Does it furnish written statements explaining all of the charges? Are payment plans available?
- What procedures does the provider follow in case of an emergency? Are the provider's caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
- How does the provider ensure patient confidentiality?
When choosing a home care provider, it's important to ask for references. Suitable references include doctors, discharge planners and other patients or their family members. Be sure to contact the references and ask questions such as:
- Do you refer clients to this provider often?
- Do you and the provider have a contractual relationship? If so, do you require that the provider meets special standards for quality care?
- What feedback have you received from patients under the care of this provider?
- Do you know if this provider has cared for people with conditions similar to those of my loved one? If so, can you provide me with contact information for these individuals?
To learn more about finding and choosing the right professional home care provider, visit the National Association for Home Care & Hospice website at http://www.nahc.org/consumer-information/right-home-care-provider/.
The cost of care.
Of course, one of the factors you must consider in obtaining professional care for your loved one is the cost. Here is a link to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey, which provides median costs for home care, assisted living care and nursing home care across the country: https://www.genworth.com/about-us/industry-expertise/cost-of-care.html.
As always, we want to be a trusted resource for you as you begin to navigate these changes. When considering what steps to take, please let our team know if we can be a listening ear, an advisor for planning or a place to come for trusted referrals for other types of service providers. Our team stands ready to help you protect those that need it most. Call our office at 260-969-1177 if we can help.