The Do's and Don'ts of Choosing Home Care
For 18 years Elder Care Access has been proud to be strong advocates for elders and their families seeking the assistance in home care. I often get calls asking "why is it so hard?" or "There are so many to choose from, where do I start?" or "it's like dealing with a factory, so many changes." Elder Care Access is not a home care company, and although we have a few wonderful caregivers on staff, we do not profess to know the numerous trials and tribulations and the massive responsibility of owning and operating one. We have worked with many different wonderful agencies over the last 18 years, and have also learned enough to know what to avoid. There are dozens of high end, great quality home care companies that are in it for the right reason, and truly care about the well being of your loved one. How will you know you have found one? To assist you in your search for an homecare here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts:
Ask the questions: When you make the first call to a home care company, and you ask for many hours a day, the home care company should ask "how soon do you need this?" Because most times, in order to set up a responsible comprehensive care plan it takes time for them to go out to do a full assessment (if they say they don't need to go out, hang up), to ask the many questions needed to find the right caregivers to fill the requested shifts, and then fill it consistently. If the company you have called, takes the time to explain all of that, and says it may take 7-10 days, they are actually taking the time to set up a team of care, that will be solid. GREAT NEWS!
Are you getting updates? Once the care starts, if you are getting updates on a routine schedule, you have a keeper! That means the company has trained their staff to update the office, who is calling you with updates or concerns. KEEP THEM!!
Will they be there for you? If you do have a concern and address it with the home care office (not the care giver) and it is addressed in a satisfactory way, meaning they have heard your concerns, and act on them, it means the agency is small enough that they still have the time to handle the influx of calls, they have time to troubleshoot and take the time to communicate with their care giver effectively! BONUS!!
Too Big for their britches: Home care is a popular option, and a nice alternative to entering a skilled nursing facility. Because they are in high demand, many companies will take on more clients, than they can reasonably handle. This leads to too many clients, not enough staff...and agencies scrambling to cover shifts they promised. This ultimately CAN lead to mistakes in scheduling, lack of communication from agency to care giver, and inconsistent caregiver schedule. If you're noticing any of these, it may be time to reconsider the agency. You should be able to expect a very routine schedule that rarely changes.
Communication is KEY: When working with a home care agency, Elder Care Access always implements a caregiver log book when there is more than one caregiver in the house. It's a way for the staff to communicate with one another, the family to communicate with staff, and for important updates from the agency to be posted for all to see. Advocate for a log book, and if the family is noticing that important information you give the agency, is not filtering down to the staff........find another agency. They are over tasked.
Overnight shifts should be awake shifts: Most home care companies will cover 24/7 if needed. Typically, the reason an elder would need overnight care, is because they are not safe to be left alone. Therefore, no caregiver should ever be sleeping during an overnight shift. Ask the agency if the caregiver also has day time shifts, or if they are only a night time caregiver.
I hope this is helpful. For more information, feel free to give us a call!
Happy Holidays and stay safe!