to Find a Service That's Right for You
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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