) - When illness or injury strikes, home health care
is oftentimes not only preferred, but statistically shown to rapidly improve healing and give peace of mind.
So, how do you sift through the many choices?
To begin the process, make a list of what you think your loved one will need. Next, ask for referrals from your loved one's physician or a family member or friend. If your loved one has been hospitalized, ask a social worker or nurse at the hospital. Another good place to look is the Internet.
Once you've identified the type of care needed, narrow the search to a few agencies. Here are some important questions to ask:
* Service listing. Do their services cover your loved one's needs? Is someone available to provide information about services, eligibility requirements and funding sources?
* Training and supervision. What formal training programs and certifications does the agency require of its direct care providers? What level of professional supervises the care? How often and how do the supervisors oversee the caregivers on location to ensure proper care?
* Documentation and coordination. Are visits and treatments documented? Do family members have easy access? Does the agency coordinate with the physician?
Direct Care Providers
* Length of visits. How often does the care provider visit, and how long do they stay? Do they provide care on weekends and evenings? Do the visits allow time to get to know the patient?
* Rotation of care. Is care provided consistently by the same caregiver, or is it rotated among different people? If rotated, how often? Does the family receive advance notice when a change is being made?
* Accessibility. Do agency office staff and the care provider stay in regular contact? Do they keep you informed of any changes in the patient's health or plan of care?
* Funding and billing. Are services covered by Medicare or Medicaid? Do they supply written statements detailing costs? How often is the care invoiced if there is payment due?
* Special fees. Are there fees for special or extended services? Who is responsible for them? Are payment plans available for any out-of-pocket services? Is there someone at the agency who can assist in exploring all payment options?
Finally, remember that agencies that embrace current technology work efficiently and seamlessly and often provide the best patient care. Axxess, a supporter of home health care, designs and implements software technology for home health agencies so the care provider in the home can focus on the patient, not the paperwork. For more information, visit www.axxess.com