8 Questions to Ask Your Home Health Care Agency Or Nurse

If you are in the process of finding a home care services agency or if you are considering hiring a home care nursing aide or a home health care physical therapist or occupational therapist, it is critical to find out their qualifications.

We assembled a list of 8 questions you can ask the home care agency to ensure that you are choosing the right provider for your needs.

1) What is the background of the home care company & how long have they been in business?

You want to find a reputable in home nursing agency that has been in business for a number of years and has a successful track record. Most newer home nursing care agencies haven’t been around long enough to build a proven track record or a list of red flags.

So, it’s important to find out as much information about the company as possible. You can do this by finding information on who owns the company and what role the ownership plays in the type and levels of service.

2) What are the home nursing care agencies qualifications, certifications, experience and training of their home care aides and nurses?

It’s extremely important to find out about the credentials of the home health aides and nurses that the home care company sends to your home.

Make sure their home health aides and nurses are certified and have received adequate training.

3) How does the home nursing care agency monitor care and can the family provide feedback?

Find out if there are any quality assurance measures in place. Many home health care agencies periodically visit the home of the client or make regular calls to gather client feedback.

If this is not the case, find out how a family member can provide feedback on the quality of care or who they may contact in the home care agency to have any questions answered.

4) Are there any home visits or assessments that take place prior to home health care services beginning?

Find out if there are any options available that allow the family members, client and the home care agency representative to meet prior to the start of services. Most reputable home nursing care agencies offer free consultations.

5) Does the agency have a current operating license in their respective state or city?

It is important to find out if the home health care agency has a current and valid license to operate in their respective city or state. This often overlooked aspect is the most important factor in choosing a home health care agency.

6) How does the home nursing care company work with your doctor in developing a plan of care?

Most agencies work directly with your doctor in planning for your care, especially if the client requires care that is beyond the scope of activities related to activities of daily living.

7) Can the home care company provide references or testimonials?

Most reputable home health care companies can provide references from doctors, nurses, social workers and even clients if requested. They may even have a page on their website that is dedicated to providing this type of information to potential clients.

8) What happens if a home health aide or nurse is absent from the agency on a particular day?

If the home health care provider is required to take a day off for illness or another emergency, what type of protocol is put in place by the home health care company to cover the absence?

There are usually plans put in place to ensure that the client receives that continuity of care in the event of an absence by their home care provider or nurse.

Home Health Care History

The early nineteenth century witnessed the initial stages of the home health care industry that offered qualified nurses to take care of the poor and sick in their homes. In 1909 when Metropolitan Life Insurance Company started to write policies that comprised of home health care, this industry became very popular. This company is credited for paying the first compensation for home health care industry. This gave rise to the birth of organized home health care.

The Great Depression in 1929 caused several businesses along with home care industry a lot of hindrances and struggle. This went on till the follow-up visits made by nurses after hospital discharge became reimbursable by the Medicare Act of 1966. The home care industry became most feasible and practical when Medicare in an attempt to reduce hospitalization costs set up DRG’s program (Diagnostic Related Group). This laid down that some disease or hospital practice needed a certain stay period. So the discharged patients were more sick compared to their DRG counterparts.

The story does not finish with DRGs. This in fact was the commencement of patient care vs. medical ethics debate. This subject shall be soon addressed in the present health care reform segment. The price of health care is the issue. Questions like how much does a human life cost and how long one should pay for keeping alive a person after he ceases to be a contributor to the society need to be addressed.

Home health care industry needs to answer these questions. The main intention of the DRG programs was to cut down the hospital stay in order to lower hospitalization costs. Thus this becomes a challenge to the agencies. But gradually home care started becoming expensive. The Balanced Budge Act of 1997 hand one major side effect. It limited the benefit days to the patients under home health care thereby lowering the compensations to the various home health care agencies. This resulted in many of these agencies going out of business.

The price to take care of a patient will always stay an issue. There was a growth of nosocomial diseases in hospitals that lead to heavy health care costs. Patients started getting discharged in a much sicker condition than before. This put additional burden on the family of the patient to make available good care once the family member is home. Also majority of the people were working. Home health care agencies that provide services were unable to discharge patients when they exceed their Medicare days if they are in a bad condition or its not safe to depart from them without any nursing services.

In case the home care agency declines admission of a patient who seems sicker than the number of reimbursement days allowed by the government, the patients’ family does not have too many choices. In case of the patient being discharged without any adequate follow-up care, the patients’ family can seek services of a qualified agency that could strain on emergency room visits and re-hospitalization leading to more compensation issues. Such questions are difficult to answer more so in cases where cost is to be taken care of. But, as time passes, such questions will continue to haunt till there are satisfactory answers to them.

Learning About Home Health Care

An unfortunate part of aging can be losing the ability to take care of yourself. Whether you are living alone or with someone at your constant beck and call, the complication of being able to do less is a continual hardship. There are many solutions to dealing with such a struggle. One in particular that is becoming increasingly popular is home health care.

Home health care is essentially receiving services you would at a hospital or nursing facility inside your own home. The advantages to this in-home care are numerous.

For example, think of some services your daily week requires: laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. Now think of work you have trouble doing that is even more basic in scope: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to the bathroom. This is where home health care spans and fills the gaps of your need.

Of course, we’ve all heard this routine before. So how does home health care outweigh that of a nursing home?

The first way is basic, but something on everyone’s mind and that’s cost of care. As individuals who need care, or as family members looking to provide care for their elders, the most important decision is cost. No one wants to feel like a financial burden on another, nor does a friend or loved one wish to deal with the guilt of paying less for care that provides fewer services, if need be.

With home health care, one doesn’t have to worry about sacrificing care for cost. Since any individual receiving these services isn’t having to worry about being charged for the utilities of a facility or on-hand resources, the costs instantly dwindle. That leads us to the next advantage.

Remaining in your own home keeps you one step ahead of the game. There’s no having to find a sterile room or apartment at a larger facility and trying to make it your ‘own.’ There’s no better advantage than feeling safe in your surroundings and that’s the foremost provision of this care: you’ll get to feel comfortable sooner and faster than anywhere else.

The next way is by individualized attention. A person doesn’t just get home health care, but they can received skilled health services like speech therapy or physical therapy.

While the latter can sound daunting, they’re generally not. Often speech therapy begins with practicing new words or word games to help sharpen the mind. Physical therapy as well as occupational therapy can be easy pinpointing of symptoms: from hand stretches to limited weightlifting with the feet. The upshot is it’s one-on-one directed.

Overall, it’s important to think about home health care in terms of who is the one receiving the benefits. If an individual is struggling and not able to perform everyday maintenance in their life, they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or out of place to solve the issue. Home health care offers a reliable and personal treatment to the often expensive out-of-house care of nursing homes.