- What are the advantages of at-home senior care?
- When should seniors get at-home senior care?
- How can at-home senior care help?
- How do I select an at-home senior care agency?
- What detailed questions should I ask about an at- home care agency?
- What qualities should I look for in an in-home caregiver?
- What are the disadvantage of in-home care?
“In-home care is a good fit when some daily tasks become more difficult to manage or when requests for assistance become a burden on relatives.”
What are the advantages of in-home senior care?
In-home care is a good fit when some daily tasks become more difficult to manage or when requests for assistance become a burden on relatives. It is ideal if you don’t need or want to leave your home for a residential setting. In-home care is not only for when medical needs arise.
The main advantages of in-home senior care are as follows:
- Remain in familiar surroundings and continue to enjoy happy memories of living there.
- Enjoy the comforts of home that have accumulated over a lifetime.
- Maintain a degree of privacy and independence.
- Ensure that it remains easy for family and friends to continue to visit at any time they wish.
- Keep the same contact information, such as street address and phone number.
“Tell-tale signs that in-home care may be needed.”
When should seniors get at-home senior care?
Here are some tell-tale signs that in-home care may be needed:
- It becomes hard to do the laundry, clean the kitchen and/or bath or make the bed.
- The refrigerator is regularly missing key foodstuffs (like milk or butter) or things brought from the store remain uneaten or spoil.
- Errands, such as going to the store or getting to medical appointments, get put off become they are difficult to arrange. Some people may stop going to church because transportation is a challenge to arrange.
- Papers pile up. For example, is a stack of unpaid bills or a pile of junk mail sitting around?
- A loss of contact with friends or lack of interest in hobbies may indicate increased loneliness.
- Family members struggle to balance the needs of a loved one versus taking care of work, family or other obligations. Sometimes a family member feels like he/she is “putting her life on hold” to give care.
“Common ways in which in-home care can help.”
How can in-home care help?
Common ways in which in-home care can help are as follows:
- Assistance with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and grooming.
- Light housekeeping.
- Meal preparation.
- Self-directed medication assistance.
- Exercise assistance.
- Reminders to take pills or make appointments.
- Transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Errands and shopping.
- Respite care and temporary live-in services.
“Several key factors to consider when selecting an in-home care agency. The most important are recommendations, reputation, non-profit status, how long the agency has been in existence, information about caregivers and cost.”
How do I select an in-home care agency?
There are several key factors to consider when selecting an in-home care agency. The most important are recommendations, reputation, non-profit status, how long the agency has been in existence, information about caregivers and cost. Often, you can find the answers to these key questions on an agency’s website or brochure. Here is how to approach the process:
- Always start by asking for recommendations regarding in-home care from friends and trusted advisors, such as a doctor, nurse or attorney. The reputation of an organization is very important. If you can’t find a recommendation, look at reviews and awards from independent groups.
- Look for non-profit agencies that specialize in care. Non-profit in-home care agencies will be focused on identifying the right level of care. You will not need to worry if the agency is suggesting unneeded services solely to increase the owners’ profits.
- Find out how long the organization has been delivering care. Agencies that have been around for decades have stood the test of time.
- Learn about the caregivers who might be assigned to deliver care. After all, it is the caregiver who will be the primary point of contact every day. Find out about the training and experience of the caregivers who might be assigned to you. Ask how long the typical caregiver has been with the agency, which may indicate how long you can expect your caregiver to stay with you. What is the process for screening the background of caregivers? (You may need to talk to the agency to find out the answers.)
- Of course, ask about costs and whether the agency accepts insurance, such as Medicare. While minimizing costs is important, you want to be sure that the caregiver can earn enough to live a decent life. In that way, the agency will reduce turnover. This is another way in which selecting a non-profit agency is important. Usually, a higher percentage of their fee goes to the caregiver than for-profit agencies.
Finding out the answers to these questions should help you narrow down the choice to a handful of agencies. The next step is to ask some specific questions about the final choices.
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“Once you have narrowed down the list of agencies to a handful, it is time to ask specific questions about your particular needs. One tell-tale sign about the agency is to see who is assigned to speak with you.”
What questions should I ask an in-home care agency?
Once you have narrowed down the list of agencies to a handful, it is time to ask specific questions about your particular needs. One tell-tale sign about the agency is to see who is assigned to speak with you. Is this person a dedicated salesperson or a person involved in the decisions made at the agency? You are likely to get better and more informed answers from a person who actively manages the organization or its caregivers.
Try to meet in person. If you cannot meet in person, then be sure to book time on the phone. You want to be sure to get the answers to your questions without interruptions.
Here are some of the questions to ask:
- Does the agency provide the types of care that are needed? There is a difference in the skills required to prepare a favorite meal and the skills required to drive a person to and from appointments. Make sure that the agency covers your particular needs.
- Can you interview the potential caregiver and provide input on the selection? Personality and fit are important considerations when the person is spending time in the home. The more you are involved in the decision, the happier you will be in the long run.
- How long does the typical caregiver stay with a client? It will be important to build a trusting relationship with the caregiver. In addition, a caregiver learns about the way you want things done, whether it is how to cook a favorite meal or how to fold the laundry. You do not want to worry about frequently “breaking in” a new caregiver.
- How do caregiver wages compare to other agencies in the area? You want to be sure that the caregiver can earn enough to live a good life and feel appreciated. In that way, the agency will minimize turnover. This is a way in which selecting a non-profit agency is important. Usually, a higher percentage of their fee goes to the caregiver than for-profit agencies.
- What kind of background checks do you perform on caregivers? At a minimum, you want the agency to conduct a criminal background check. In Massachusetts, the gold standard for criminal background checks is the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system, a centralized source of criminal record information in the state. Other checks may be conducted confirm whether the Social Security number provided by the caregiver matches the name, confirmation of the most recent home addresses, a multi-state criminal history check, a credit check and a driving record check, especially if the person is going to drive the client. You may even want to monitor the public social media posts from the caregiver for potential red flags.
- Are your workers independent contractors or employees? Agencies that use independent contracts act more like job placement agencies and may not directly supervise the caregiver. It is always better to work with an agency that hires caregivers as employees and treats them well.
- How often is the agency in contact with the caregiver and what type of supervision do they provide? Ask if the agency guides the caregiver about the best way to perform care. See if the agency checks in with the caregiver daily, weekly or monthly to find out how things are going.
- How often does the agency contact you? Will they ask you how well things are going? How will they resolve a conflict between you and the caregiver?
- Will the agency cover sick days, vacation days and holidays with another qualified worker? It is important to determine how these days are handled and what you may need to do when coverage is needed.
- Ask detailed questions about costs and potential extra charges. Is it customary to give the caregiver a gratuity? How much will insurance cover and will the agency bill insurance directly?
“When you take a tour, it is essential to get a sense of the other people who live in the community. … Be sure to see the actual unit where you will live. … Ask these specific questions below:”
What qualities should I look for in an in-home caregiver?
In the best circumstances, an agency will suggest two or more potential caregivers for you to meet and interview. In this way, you can find the right match for your situation. Here are some qualities to look for in a caregiver.
- Skills and Interest Match: Find out if the caregiver has the skills and interest in performing the work that needs to be done. For example, if you have a favorite food to be prepared, ask if the caregiver a competent cook and willing to learn your recipes. You might want to ask about how this caregiver goes about preparing meals.
- Compassion: Do you sense that the caregiver is compassionate? Do you think that he/she will be sympathetic with the client? Will the caregiver treat the client with respect and caring?
- Trust: Do you feel comfortable having this person in your home and being alone in the house? Will this person take proper care of the person’s possessions and privacy?
- Dependability: Do you think that you will be able to rely on this caregiver to be there when he/she is needed? Will the caregiver be there on time?
- Attentiveness: Do you believe that the person will be attentive to the needs of the client? Will they notice the day-to-day changes that might require additional help?
- Patience: Perhaps the most important characteristic is having a great deal of patience and the ability to deal with a client’s frustrations. It is important for the caregiver to be reassuring and to remain calm when the client is upset.
“While in-home care is ideal when some daily tasks become more challenging to manage or when requests for assistance become a burden on relatives, it is not always the best choice.”
What are the disadvantage of in-home care?
While in-home care is ideal when some daily tasks become more challenging to manage or when requests for assistance become a burden on relatives, it is not always the best choice. Residential care may be recommended for some people, as follows:
- When long-term 24/7 personal and/or medical care is necessary, residential care is a much better option than in-home care.
- When it is not safe to be home alone. For example, when there is a risk of falling or of not properly operating appliances.
- When residential life can lead to a more active, healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. Many residential facilities offer activities and trips that are engaging and fulfilling. Activities such as gardening, concerts, baking and gentle exercise in a residential setting can add to well-being.
- When a community of people in the same age group or similar physical condition will add to a support network. This is especially true when the family is far away and old friends are no longer nearby.
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