How To Find The Right Home Health Agency
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Once you’ve decided that you or your loved one would benefit from home care services, the next step would be to find the right agency. This can be an overwhelming process since there are so many different factors to evaluate and keep in mind when making your decision. Having a basic understanding of what to look out for when searching for long term care assistance is very helpful and will make you feel confident in your final decision. In this article we will discuss some of the things you should keep in mind and be aware of when choosing homecare services.
One of the first things that should be looked into when deciding what type of agency you should go with is what type of care you or your loved one would benefit from and search for agencies that provide this type of care.
One of the main factors would be to decide if medical or non-medical care is what you are in need of. Non-medical care would include caregivers such as In-Home Senior Care, or Home Health Aides, while medical care includes skilled nursing care, among other types of care. In general non-medical care can be elected at your own discretion, while skilled nursing care would require an order from a Doctor or Physician.
While some agencies offer all 3 services, there are many that only offer companionship, which is the lightest level of care and does not allow physical assistance. If a level of “touch” is required in your sought after plan of care assistance, you will more than likely want to find an agency that also offers home health aide services.
When interviewing agencies and having consultations, they can help you decide exactly what type of care is right for you. However, having an idea of what is needed can help narrow down the selection process.
Licensing & Insurance
Licensing is very important. Licensing varies depending on the state, so the companies you interview should have the required paperwork in order to be operating legally.
Insurance is required and is what protects the client / patient in the unfortunate event of malpractice situation arising. It’s not out of line to ask for licensing / insurance paperwork in order to verify that any home health agency is operating as a valid entity, and it’s important in the event of any legal conflicts.
Home health agencies should also be accredited by a national organization, such as the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) , the Joint Commission or the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP). While this is not required, it shows how dedicated an agency is to providing valuable care and living up to industry standards.
When looking into potential in-home caregiver services, ask them how they hire / employ their caregivers. Most patients / clients aren’t aware that agencies are staffing independent contractors to send to their home. While this can work out ok, by law the agency cannot have too much supervisory control in telling the caregiver what to do.
Sure the agency can terminate the relationship with the independent contractor and replace them, but working with an agency that directly employs their staff as W-2 workers, gives an added layer of control from the onset of the relationship.
When interviewing agencies, you should ask what the qualifications and certifications the members of the agency have, and whether or not they receive ongoing training whenever new rules or regulations come out.
Also very important, is asking what type of background checks are conducted on the staff since these are people that are going to be trusted in the home. While it’s not a guarantee, you’ll want to make sure that you or your loved one are in good hands.
Making sure that you will be able to communicate with the agency with ease whenever needed is a very important factor when choosing one.
Pay attention to how quick they call you back during your inquiry process. If they are lagging in response time now, which is one of the most critical times in making you a client, don’t expect it to change once you become a client. Quick and good communication is a key factor that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You should also ask who will be on call and if they are someone that has medical experience and will be able to help in cases of emergencies. They should have a registered nurse on-call 24/7.
Having a strong and reputable reputation can be a key factor in deciding if that particular agency is right for you.
One thing you can do is look up reviews online from current or former clients of the elder care agencies you are looking into. You might also ask the agencies some questions about this during your consultations, such as asking about:
How long they have been providing services for.
If they are inspected by any outside organizations and when the last inspection was and what the results of that were.
If there are any patients or doctors who recommend their home aide services.
Cost is something that can be asked about in the interview or consultation process.
Some things to ask when inquiring about cost include:
How much the home health services will cost per hour and how this may vary in the event of declining health and a higher level of care being required.
What insurance plans are accepted and what your insurance will cover.
If the insurance company will be billed directly or if you will be required to pay up front and then seek reimbursement.
Any additional fees or anticipated out-of-pocket expenses that need to be covered.
How frequently you will be billed.
What types of payment are accepted by the company and if any deposits are required.
The company should be able to provide you a lot of this information on paper so you have it accessible to you when interviewing other private caretaker agencies and reviewing your options.
Personalized Care Plans
Another important piece to keep in mind when interviewing agencies is personalized care plans.
Every patient is different and has personal needs, therefore a care plan should be made specific for each person. Ask the homecare agency if they create these plans and take the time to evaluate the different necessities of each client.
If you are looking into care in the Palm Beach County / Boca Raton area, Unified Pledge Home Health provides a free consultation where you can ask all the information stated above and discuss your situation in detail.
Hiring professionals from Unified Pledge comes with the following advantages:
Level II FBI background checks of all staff
Driving history checks
Companions, health aides, LPNs are our direct employees and not independent contractors
Constant communication to patients, family, and care team
Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan
Contact us today for a FREE consultation by a Supervisory Nurse at 561-910-8770.