Options Available for Professional In-Home Care

The vast majority of elders needing assistance with daily living prefer to remain at home rather than move to an assisted living residence or a nursing home.  Helping my clients accomplish this goal is one of the cornerstones of my practice.
In the past, I’ve written about the resources available in Massachusetts to find financial assistance to pay for in-home care, including MassHealthreverse mortgages, and Aid & Attendance.  Now I’d like to share with you an excellent article on AARP’s website about finding the appropriate level of professional care.  It is a rather long article, with far too much information to convey here, but I urge you to read it.
For now, I’ll focus on the types of professional in-home care providers commonly available.
Personal Care Attendants
Personal care attendants (PCAs) have various levels of training and experience.  They typically serve as helpers and companions, and may provide services such as bathing, dressing, light housekeeping, meals, neighborhood walks, and transportation.  
Home Health Aides 
In addition to the services provided by PCAs, home health aides (HHAs) are authorized to monitor a patient’s condition and check vital signs.  Federal law requires an HHA to have at least 75 hours of training.
Licensed Nursing Assistants and Certified Nursing Assistants
Licensed nursing assistants (LNAs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) can observe and report changes in a patient’s condition, take vital signs, set up medical equipment, change dressings, clean catheters, monitor infections, conduct range-of-motion exercises, assist with walking, and administer certain treatments.  Any medical-related task performed by these caregivers is directed by a registered nurse or nurse practitioner.  LNAs and CNAs must, at the very least, meet a federal minimum of 75 hours of training.
Licensed Practical Nurses
Also known as skilled nursing providers, licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are required to meet federal standards for health and safety and are licensed by states.  LPNs can observe, evaluate, and manage a patient’s care.  They are able to provide a level of direct care that nonmedical and home health aides cannot.  This could include services such as administering IV drugs, tube feedings, and shots; diabetes care; changing wound dressings; and educating patients and other caregivers.Some LPNs are also trained in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy.
Registered Nurses
In addition to the services provided by LPNs, registered nurses (RNs) can provide direct care, administer medications, operate medical monitoring equipment, and assist doctors in medical procedures.  RNs must hold a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree in nursing, pass the National Council Licensure Examination, and meet all other licensing requirements mandated by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing.
As you can see, there are a number of professional in-home care options available, and we have several excellent home care agencies here on the South Shore.  
I’m here to help you find ways to stretch out your life savings to be able to bring this care into your home and stay at home for as long as possible.
Until next time, take care….