What to Look for in a Home Care Provider

As many of you know, I often write about how elders can obtain financial assistance to pay for home care.  Now I’d like to discuss what elders should look for in a home care provider.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has created a helpful 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. (You can see all of them here.)

  • How long has the provider served the community?
  • Does the provider have literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, and fees?  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 an elder’s needs?  If so, do they consult with the elder’s family and physicians?  Does the provider include the elder and his or her family in developing a care plan?
  • How are changes to the level of care needed over time addressed and met?
  • Is the elder’s course of treatment documented?  Does the elder 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 elder?
  • Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality-of-care elders 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 an emergency?  Are the provider’s caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

Finally, be sure to ask about references.  If the prospective provider doesn’t have any, look elsewhere.

As always, I’m here to help you make this important decision.  Until next time, take care….