When the time comes to search for a home health agency, many people aren’t sure what facts are most important. But with a little bit of education, families can feel more confident in selecting the best choice for their loved ones who need in-home care.
An accreditation from the Joint Commission is a valuable gold seal of approval for families who want that extra reassurance that proper protocol and procedures are always followed. These standards are put in place to avoid emergencies such as falls as well as to reinforce that other health and infectious disease standards are followed. The accreditation procedure from the Joint Commission may even include random visiting of the patient’s home to grade the quality of care while the home health professionals are on-site. The Joint Commission takes care to notice whether a safe environment is established and is consistent with its guidelines. If an agency has this accreditation, you can rest assured it has passed close scrutiny – similar to what a hospital goes through – and that families can feel confident in a higher standard of care.
Community outreach and assistance is another valuable service that should be provided by the home health care agency, and families should take care to ask about available resources. Community outreach and assistance is especially useful to families seeking care outside of what Medicare can provide. It is important to know that your private care provider is able not only to provide the care that is needed but can direct you to a variety of resources to help you meet your care, financial and even emotional needs.
Understanding the difference between a home health license and home care license can save time and money when your loved one needs home care. Most home care agencies have only a home care license and are not able to provide skilled nursing services. In most cases, their services are limited to companionship and personal care for the patient. However, an agency that has home health license can provide skilled services that require a registered nurse, such as medication management. A standard home health aide or a certified nursing assistant cannot provide these skilled services.
A director of nursing at an agency can create a level of comfort and trust that will help families sleep better at night.
Sanders Frank with BrightStar Home Care said, “Ask if the agency has an RN to conduct a thorough initial assessment before starting any engagement. And then ask if the director of nursing always follows up to ensure the plan of care is being carried out to your satisfaction. The director of nursing is personally responsible to ensure the caregiving staff follows the guidelines of the plan of care.”
Frank also suggested that clients ask plenty of questions. How committed is the agency to ongoing and comprehensive caregiver training? Does the agency provide formal in-house training and provide education incentives for their caregivers to enhance their personal knowledge? Do they require at least one year’s caregiving experience prior to being put in your home? Does the agency have a caregiver backup plan in the event of illness or unexpected emergencies?
“Ask the agency during the interview process about what personnel would be available to cover under these dire circumstances. Most agencies simply are not staffed and do not have a plan to handle these situations,” he said.
Does the agency have “field supervisor” level of personnel who can perform backup services when needed? Does the agency have nursing supervisory personnel who stay on top of unique circumstances?
“Many agencies have wonderful caregivers, but it certainly takes a team for the coordinated effort that is often required,” Frank concluded.
For more information on a professional home care service, visit www.brightstarcare.com or call 866-618-7827.