Home Health Care Aides

By Sharon Naylor

June 12, 2013 6 min read

Home health care aides are in high demand for seniors. Some seniors might have just come home from the hospital, are recovering from surgery, need care for a chronic illness or simply wish to remain in their homes as they convalesce rather than move to an assisted care facility. Home care services range from medical care -- including medication dosing and medical device applications, help with mobility and monitoring vitals -- to everyday household needs. When shopping for home care aides, you'll have to determine what your needs will be during your recovery time and for the foreseeable future.

Get recommendations of home care agencies or professionals from your doctor. This is one professional you must research extremely well; they will be granted access to your home and belongings, will be around your family members and will need to have the professionalism and dedication to meet your needs with a positive attitude.

The experts at the Mayo Clinic say that when you're looking for the perfect home care aide, ask detailed questions of a physician-recommended agency or home health care individual to be sure you receive top-notch care from an experienced, licensed and bonded home care aide. For example:

--How long has your licensed agency been in business, and which certifications do you have? Are you Medicare-certified?

--Do you do full background checks, and check for driver's licenses, on your employees?

--Can the agency provide references? Always put these recommended agencies and experts through your careful interview process, even if they come highly recommended by your doctor.

--Do you work with my doctor to create a plan of care?

--Do you provide a free home visit and interview prior to my contracting with you?

--How do you train your caregivers? Explain the courses they must take, and any certifications they must achieve.

--Are your caregivers licensed and insured? Ask also whether the workers are bonded, which covers you if the worker breaks an appliance in your home or if he or she steals something.

--Do I get to interview and choose the home caregiver, or will someone be assigned to me?

--Will I be assigned one home caregiver, or will different caregivers show up at different times?

--What is your monitoring policy of home caregivers?

--Can I see an itemized list of your charges and what's not covered?

--Will your agency take care of all billing and insurance paperwork related to my home care aide?

Next, you'll interview home health care and home care aides to find your perfect fit. This person will be responsible for your personal care as well as your living environment, so it's advisable to arrange for in-person interviews. In addition to the essential interview questions, you're also looking for a personal connection and an easy rapport with the person you'd like to invite in your home to care for you. If a home care aide doesn't want to come for an in-person interview, eliminate him or her from contention.

Questions to ask include:

--How long have you been a home health care aide?

--Where did you get your education and training, and which certifications do you have?

--Are you licensed, insured and bonded?

--Do you have experience with all the types of care that I need?

--Do you have your own reliable transportation, as well as backup transportation? This is a very important question, so that you're not left alone because of a care worker's car trouble.

--What do you enjoy and what do you find most challenging about providing home health care? You're looking for a sense that this person enjoys being of help, bringing comfort, that this is a job they really want to do.

--Can you provide references? Before hiring, do an online search of this applicant to make sure there are no complaints about his or her care, professionalism, ethics or serious charges made against them.

--What do you charge and what is included?

--Do you require payment for sick days, vacation days or holidays? If so, ask the agency for details on how many sick and vacation days are allowed, as well as which days are considered holidays.

--Do you provide a written care plan before service begins? A written care plan itemizes all responsibilities such as care of medical equipment, dispensing of medicines and other tasks, detailing the timing and schedule of each responsibility. It's a wise idea to show this list to your doctor so that he or she can suggest additional care tasks and instructions for your care worker.

--What don't you provide? Some home care workers won't lift you if you weigh over X pounds, and won't perform certain household tasks. It's important to clarify what you can expect.

--If my condition changes, will you be available for round-the-clock care?

--The Mayo Clinic advises asking, "What procedures are in place for emergencies? Ask how the agency or home health aide will deliver services in the event of a power failure or natural disaster."

--Are you allergic to any pets? If you have a cat, dog or other pet, the candidate needs to know in advance.

Ask also, "Is your time here with me going to be tech-free, as in, 'Will you refrain from being on social media and playing video games while you're in my home?'" This is an important factor these days.

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