Home Care     

How to Find a Service That's Right for You

You're going to have surgery, and your doctor suggests that you consider home health care for your recovery. Home care would be less expensive than a nursing home or hospital stay, and you'd be able to recover in the more comfortable environment of your own home.

But you think, "How do I find a home-care service I can trust?"

Millions of people ask this question every year. More and more, doctors are telling them that the best place for recovery is at home — provided they still receive quality care. But to get that care, it's important you plan ahead and ask the right questions so you can hire the best agency.

Finding the right service

The first step is to speak with your physician to find out exactly what services you need. You may only require an occasional visit from a nurse to administer medication, or you may need more elaborate medical care.

Your doctor, hospital or medical social worker may be able to recommend several reputable home health-care agencies. Or you can check the telephone book yellow pages under the headings "Home health care" or "Nurse." Other sources include your state and county health departments and area agencies on aging.

If you're planning to receive financial assistance from the government or your insurance company, make sure the services you need are covered. If they're not, covered nursing home care may be more affordable.

Asking the right questions

Once you've identified a prospective health care provider, ask these key questions: How long has the agency been serving the community?

Is the agency certified by Medicare? If so, that means it meets federal requirements for patient care and financial management. An agency's Medicare survey report is public information. If the agency is not certified, ask why.

Is the agency licensed by the state? Most states - but not all - require agencies to be licensed and reviewed regularly. These reviews may be available on request and can be valuable for gauging the quality of an agency. To obtain a report, contact your state health department.

Is the agency bonded and insured?

What is the professional training of the nursing staff? Does the agency employ registered nurses and licensed practical nurses? Who supervises them?

Who will be working in your home and what are their specific duties?

Does the agency provide, up front, literature explaining its services and fees?

Is there a written care plan that details services to be provided? You should receive documents — including financial arrangements — before service begins so you can make sure the correct service is continually provided.

What procedures does the agency have for emergencies? Are caregivers available around the clock?

How does the agency protect client confidentiality?

Can the agency provide references? Ask for a list of doctors, hospital discharge planners, former clients and family members of former clients who have experience with the agency.

Monitoring your provider

After you've found a home health care provider, it's up to you to monitor the care you receive to make sure it's what the doctor ordered. That's where having a detailed, written care plan can help. And if you have any questions about the care you're receiving, check with your regular physician.

(When we are your local service center, your personal agent
and his staff will be able to assist you greatly in this matter.)


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