Home Adaptations for Independent Living


Home Health Care

Posted on January 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM
We frequently get calls from out of state family looking for assistance for older family members who live here in FloridaIn most cases the parents want to stay in their homes while their adult kids think it might be time to bring them back to live with them or move them into assisted living.  We're initially asked to go into the parents' home to evaluate the physical layout for safety, but in time the conversation turns to the need for additional resources. Assistance might be needed for anything ranging from help with simple tasks like shopping, driving, and cooking to those involving personal hygiene and companionship.
Enter the home health agencies who offer a range of services designed to meet the needs of those who are aging or dealing with chronic illness.  In South Florida alone, there are over 1,000 private home health agencies licensed to provide private duty home health care to people in need.  That number is staggering.  How do you decide which to use for care?  How do you begin to compare the level of services offered and evaluate the quality of those services?  What questions should be asked before bringing a stranger into your home?
I asked Scott Greenberg, Statewide Board Member of the Florida State Guardian Association and Vice President of the local chapter, Member of the Legislative Committee of the PBC Partnership for Aging, and President of Comforcare Home Care, a private home health company, for help in answering these questions.
"There really are differences in agencies and finding the right agency for you can be daunting but taking the time to make an informed choice is very important," says Scott.  He suggests beginning with the following questions when interviewing potential providers:
  1. How long has your agency been in business?  Is this your primary business or one of many types of services you provide?
  2. Do you provide an assessment of a client's needs by a nurse or other licensed professional?  If so, is there a fee?
  3. How do you screen your caregivers?  How do you match them to a client?
  4. How are your caregivers trained and do they receive any specialized training beyond the state requirements?
  5. Are your caregivers bonded?  Are they covered by workers compensation?  Do they have liability insurance?
  6. What procedures do you have in place if a caregiver is late or calls in sick?
  7. What funding sources does your agency accept?  Do you require a deposit?  Will you accept assignment from my Long Term Care Insurance or will I have to pay you and wait for reimbursement from my insurance company?
  8. What are your rates and are there differentials for nights, holidays and weekends?  (more questions..)
I then asked Scott to explain how his own agency is an example of quality service so as to better understand what to look for when evaluating other companies.
"All our caregivers are our employees and covered by workers comp, bonded and covered by both supplemental auto and liability insurance.  We provide references on request and can even arrange an interview with a caregiver if desired prior to providing service.   We conduct specialized training in areas such as Jewish Cultural Traditions as well as keeping kosher for those to whom that is important.  We contracted with the Alzheimer's Association to conduct a higher level of training for our caregivers than the state requires.  20 years of combined experience, advocating for senior causes, and being an active volunteer in the community is a differentiator for us and you should look for help from people with that same level of commitment to excellence."
Let's remember that aging in place is an achievable lifestyle choice that might require some additional help where necessary.  Combining a safe and comfortable home environment with appropriate home health care will allow most seniors to stay in their homes rather than having to move into a facility.
Susan Luxenberg
HomeSmart LLC

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