Home care is a complicated journey. You don’t really need to know this until your loved one needs home care, but then you’ve got to figure it out really, really quickly.
Below are three common scenarios that start your home care journey, and what to do in each scenario to optimize your home care experience.
My loved one had a planned surgery and hospitalization; they needed some medical care and therapy once they came home; Medicare paid for their care and now they are fine.
My loved one had a bad fall and an unplanned surgery and hospitalization; now that they are going home I am told they cannot be left alone for safety reasons. They are going to receive some medical care and therapy at home, but it is not enough to keep them safe.
My loved one’s health has declined, and I believe that they are going to need some help at home. I’d like to arrange some home care, to help them with some of their daily activities, and to ensure they are taking their medications correctly. I thought Medicare would pay for this, but it doesn’t.
Where do you go from here?
Let’s look more closely at each scenario:
Scenario 1 usually proceeds smoothly. The nurses and therapists are knowledgeable and friendly, and your loved one recovers as planned. While there’s not much you need to do, while your experience is fresh you should make notes in case you need home care again in the future. If you liked the company, you’ll want to contact them and find out if they also provide private, non-medical care. If they do, then keep their information on file for the future. They can provide both your medical and non-medical care. This means if you need them again, and your loved one’s needs have changed to need both types of home care, you’ve found one company to work with. You’re satisfied with them, and they can provide both types of care. Congratulations! This is the first secret to your home care success.
(If they don’t also provide private non-medical care, you don’t need to keep their information.)
Scenario 2 doesn’t feel smooth at all. But, you can work your way to a better situation. It starts at the hospital/before they come home, when you choose a home care company that provides both medical and non-medical home care. The hospital social worker has a current list of home care companies, and she can also tell you which one provide both types of care.
Call the home care companies and ask the following questions, which will guide your decision process:
- Do you provide both medical, and non-medical home care services?
- Are you certified and/or accredited?
- Do you have 24/7 on-call employees?
- Do you have a Medical Director?
- How do you screen and/or train your caregivers?
This decision making process is the second secret to your home care success.
The potential home care company will come to the hospital to complete a free assessment. Medicare will pay for your loved one’s medical home care, and non-medical care is funded by long term care insurance and/or self-pay. This blog also shares How to Pay for Home Care (hyperlink to 5-5-2017 blog) in greater detail. Once you have decided, set your schedule and prepare for your loved one’s discharge home.
Next, the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th secrets to success:
Pay close attention during your discharge meeting, to ensure you understand any medicine changes. If you are uncertain, schedule a nurse visit with your home care company to review and pack your loved one’s medications for the first few weeks.
Balance your budget: stagger your schedule to help your loved one with their non-medical home care services, with the home care nurses and caregivers’ schedules. This will save you money.
Agree on a communication plan with your new home care company, including how you prefer to communicate and your desired frequency (by text, once daily; through a weekly phone call or e-mail; more as you begin and less as your loved one’s new home care routine becomes familiar, etc.).
Be patient and be diligent. If you don’t like a caregiver, ask for a replacement. Try to find two that your loved one likes so they can fill in for one another when one is on vacation or sick.
While Scenario 3 is not an emergency, don’t let a lack of urgency keep you from moving forward to initiate some home care. Once you’ve found a home care company that provides both services and that satisfactorily answers the questions above, start small (our 7th secret to success) to help your loved one get accustomed to new people in her home, helping her. One in-road is to schedule a weekly nurse wellness visit. During this visit a nurse will pack your loved one’s medications for the week, and also assess their general health.
In summary, here are our secrets to make home care better:
- Choose a company that provides both medical, and non-medical home care
- Ask 4 other key questions (above) to efficiently choose your home care company
- Schedule a weekly nurse visit if medication help is needed
- Be efficient with your home care schedule; add home care services only when family/friends cannot be there to help your loved one
- Agree on a communication schedule with your home care company
- It may take some time to create your home care schedule; be patient, but don’t hesitate to ask for a new caregiver when it is not a “match”; build a small team of caregivers for consistency
- When it is not an urgent situation, start small with a few hours per week to introduce your loved one to home care
Cooperative Home Care meets or exceeds all of the above criteria.