- Aging & Longevity
Care At Home
Why Seek Home Care?
There are a variety of reasons why someone would seek home care or home health care services. Usually it's an adult child who is concerned for their Elderly parent's well-being. Here are some situations that may be similar to yours.
1. The adult child begins to notice signs of mental or physical deterioration in their parent. They may notice changes in personal appearance, behavior, memory, or movement: ex. weight loss, poor personal hygiene/grooming, rigid facial expressions, loss of appetite, loss of interest in activities, difficulty walking, etc.
2. The adult child notices signs of depression in their loved one. Many elderly individuals suffer depression from the developmental changes associated with the Elder years. They need to find new meaning in life after retirement, some have lost their significant others or close friends, they notice their health deteriorating, etc. Sometimes all they need is a companion to socialize with.
3. Your loved one has an illness that jeopardizes their safety or health. Arthritis, Diabetes, Alzheimer's Disease, Incontinence, Cancer, Parkinson's Disease, Post-Stroke victims, etc. provide risks in the home environment. Fall risk is higher with Arthritis and Parkinson's Disease, medication and proper nutrition are essential to keep Diabetes under control, the memory issues associated with Alzheimer's Disease could put your loved one in some dangerous situations if unsupervised, and the list goes on.
4. You want your loved one to be able to maintain their independence. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities can't provide the same benefits as living at home. Placing them in a nursing home puts them in an unfamiliar environment and is more expensive than home care as well. At home, you don't have to pay for unnecessary services such as room & board or any other overhead costs.
5. You and your siblings don't live in close proximity to your loved one, making it impossible to check up on them. Of course, phone and video chat make communication easier, but it's not the same as in-person and you can't check on the status of the housekeeping or really assess if everything's alright with the limited amount of time phone or video chat offer.
Getting Started With A Home Care Agency
You can go a couple ways in arranging home care for your loved one. There's hiring a caregiver independently and hiring through a home care agency. The former is a more risky alternative, as you become the employer of the person. You have to deal with the hassle of making sure the person is legitimate by running a background check, verifying their experience through references, dealing with tax and liability matters, and assessing whether they are reliable. And keep in mind, you'll have to do this for every candidate you interview.
With a home care agency, the only thing you need to worry about is finding a reputable agency and have interview questions set up for both the agency and caregiver candidates. The agency will handle all the caregiver screenings which usually include a National Background Check, DMV Check, Tuberculosis Screening, Liability insurance, First Aid and CPR training, and ensuring the caregiver has proper experience.
Questions to Ask Agency
- How long has your company been in business? What is the background of the company?
- Are your workers bonded and insured? What qualifications, certifications, and experience do they have?
- How does your company screen, train, and supervise caregivers?
- What is the company's replacement policy or guarantee if a caregiver is absent or quits?
- What are your financial procedures? Can you send me information regarding services and rates?
- Does your company perform an assessment to determine the needs of a client?
Questions to Ask Caregivers
- How long have you been with the agency?
- How long have you been providing caregiver services? Can you provide me with a brief background on the level of care you've provided?
- Do you specialize in any particular type of work? What other skills can you bring to the home?
- Do you have a Driver's License and reliable transportation?
- Do you smoke?
- What attracts you to this kind of work?
- How many hours a week are you looking to work?
- Can you describe a situation in which you handled an emergency?
- Can you describe a situation in which you dealt with a stubborn or uncooperative client?
Scenario questions are excellent and necessary. They tell you more about the caregiver's experience and caregiving style. Ex. Can you tell me of a time where you had a problem and were able to solve it?
Describe your expectations and description of the job, including all tasks that will need to be performed.
Of course, there are more questions that should be asked of the caregiver, customized to your specific care situation. These questions are just a basic framework to help get your mind thinking about your concerns and needs in a caregiver.
Once you've hired a caregiver, you're going to want to assess the quality of care the caregiver is providing. Of course, this can be difficult, as you can't be there to watch their every move. During the first few weeks, check up on your loved one by calling them or visiting and talk to them when the caregiver isn't around. See how things are going. If your loved one immediately starts to complain, don't automatically assume the caregiver has done wrong, but get to the bottom of the issue as quickly as possible. Express your concerns to the caregiver if the complaints aren't of an accusatory nature. If they are accusatory, it's up to you as to what you want to do. Options would include notifying the home care agency and finding a replacement or installing some sort of hidden camera device in the house. Sneaky, but your loved one's well-being is at stake!
About the Author: S.Y. is a content writer for Southern California based A-1 Home Care Agency, a non-medical caregiver placement agency that specializes in a variety of Elder Care services in Orange County and Los Angeles County.