The Whirlwind of Long Term Care

By Thomas Ryan VP @Home Healthcare of NY

My average day consists of speaking with sons and daughters of aging parents who require help with the activities of daily living.  The help that these parents need is pretty basic most of the time, but can be daunting to family members.  The children of these parents find themselves juggling the daily routine of their own children along with their parents’.  Many times the commute to their parents’ home is far enough to create a problem, and many times they live in a different state.  Having help provided by a home care agency can be the solution, but also comes with many fears and concerns.

Home care is not something people usually think about before it is time to act.  That’s when panic and stress set in.  What I hear many times is, “I’m new to this” and “How does this work?”.  This is the time where the family feels helpless.  Their mom or Dad is going to be released from the hospital today or tomorrow and the doctor strongly recommends that they go home with a home health aid.  The clock is ticking! They need someone as soon as possible and only have blind recommendations as for whom to call. What to do, what to do?!

The social worker at the hospital or rehabilitation center should provide the family with a list of agencies to call.  The best thing to do is call them all.  Come up with a checklist of questions and concerns that you have and ask all the agencies every question.  Most caregivers are registered with multiple agencies. As long as they are certified and had their references checked along with a background check, the important part of the search relies on the agency.  You want to make sure that agency you are dealing with is upstanding.  You want to make sure that agency will place a caregiver in your home that suits the personality and needs of your loved one.  Often I hear people tell me they are on their 5th or 6th caregiver because no one has worked out.  Unfortunately this does happen, not always at the fault of the agency, but it does show the lack of connection between agency and patient. 

The agency is also there to provide security for the family, to protect them from liability in a few aspects.  They should have liability insurance and workman’s comp insurance.  The caregivers should also be employees of the agency and not independent contractors.  You want to make sure that the caregiver is complying with all tax laws.  If there is a large disparity in price from agency to agency, you should ask why.  Some agencies are just a registry and do not provide workman’s comp insurance, because of the laws concerning independent contractors.  If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

These are just a few tidbits of information that may help you along with the process.  I hope that I helped any one that needs it.  I know you are stressed.  I know that is nothing like anything you’ve dealt with before.  Rest assured that there are compassionate people that work with the home care agencies that will take the time to help you the right way. You just have to be diligent in your research and use your ability to read people.  You can do it!!

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