Getting Started with Home Care
If you are considering getting home care help to assist you with your caregiving responsibilities and/or to get some time for yourself, there are a number of things you need to consider.
The first step is to make sure you and your loved one are comfortable with the idea of someone else taking on some of the tasks that you’ve been doing by yourself. There are many care recipients who are totally opposed to the idea and some negotiations will need to occur before any plan can be put in place. It’s important for all concerned to understand what is prompting the need for home care and the personal issues that lie beneath any refusal to consider it. Getting beyond objections isn’t necessarily easy and you might need some guidance on how to go about it — perhaps from other family caregivers who have dealt with the issue or from professionals who counsel family caregivers.
Defining the tasks that need to be done by the home care worker will help you determine exactly what type of home care is most appropriate for your situation. Do you need a nurse to clean and bandage wounds and monitor equipment, a home care aide to help your loved one get showered and dressed, or would a companion/homemaker be more appropriate in your situation?
Once you know what type of assistance you need, and all parties agree that it is necessary or desirable, the inevitable questions about where to find home care services, how much they will cost, and whether any of these costs will be covered by insurance or provided by government programs must be asked and answered. Throughout the world, some government funded programs and insurance companies provide for some home healthcare services, but the coverage provided may not fit your needs. To be sure whether or not you have coverage at all, it is imperative that you educate yourself about the benefits available to you.
Your access to home care may be limited by what you can afford. You may be able to get some help from government programs that take into account your ability to pay and the age or extent of disability of your care recipient; but the sad reality is that more often than not, the costs of home care services will have to come out of your own pocket.
Who to Call for Non-Medical Home Care
Professional caregivers can be grouped into three different categories: agency employee, independent contractor with a registry, and independent caregivers. The process of employing professional caregivers can vary from country to country. There are a number of questions you will have before hiring non-medical home care.
Most agencies hire caregivers who are screened, trained, bonded and insured. They are employees of the individual company for whom they work. The agency handles all taxes and other employment obligations such as workers’ compensation, liability coverage, and addressing performance issues. The agency also provides additional support between the client and the caregiver.
Independent Contractor with a Registry
An independent contractor with a registry is recruited, screened, and referred to the consumer. The family becomes the employer and is responsible for all employment responsibilities such as hiring, scheduling, handling performance issues, and paying federal and state payroll taxes. The family assumes the risk as the employer since the independent contractor will not be covered by workers’ compensation, liability, and bond insurance. While the contractor may have had a criminal background check and reference checks, it is likely that he/she is not receiving support, training, or continuing education, nor is a replacement caregiver available should the contractor become sick.
Independent caregivers are responsible for marketing themselves and finding their own clients. You may have to do criminal background and reference checks at your own expense. The family becomes the employer and is responsible for all employment responsibilities such as hiring, scheduling, handling performance issues, and paying federal and state payroll taxes. The consumer assumes the risk as the employer since the independent contractor will not be covered by workers’ compensation, liability, and bond insurance. The independent caregiver does not receive support, training, or continuing education, nor is a replacement caregiver available should the independent caregiver become sick.
Medical Home Care Providers
When hiring home healthcare, it’s important to seek out licensed medical caregivers. When interviewing an agency, make sure you understand exactly what services it will provide and those it will not provide, including those services it is forbidden to provide by local law.
Families are allowed to provide any care for a family member, but professionals must abide by local law. For instance, in many places, invasive procedures such as injections and maintenance of feeding tubes may not be administered by non-skilled professionals. You may need a doctor or a nurse to perform these procedures. There are several questions you may want to ask a medical home care provider.
Whether the assistance you need is for the short term or the long term, whether you need a home care aide or a registered nurse, knowing where to look and what questions to ask will help ensure that you find the right kind of help for your particular situation. By being open to the possibility of seeking outside help, you can help ensure that you will continue to be the best family caregiver you can be.
Information in this article was contributed by Home Instead Senior Care, a sponsor of Caregiver Action Network. Home Instead Senior Care is the world’s largest provider of non-medical home care services for seniors. To learn more, visit www.homeinstead.com.