Choosing a Home Care Agency

Ask The Experts by Anne Marie Gattari

Q: I think it might be time to start looking for options for my mother and extra care in her home. How do I know for sure and where do I begin?

A: Are there signs she may be lonely or not adequately taking care of her daily needs? Is she eating and drinking well or keeping up with her hygiene? Is she managing housekeeping chores?

Sometimes even a few hours a week can make a big difference in energy level and emotional well-being of your loved one.

Once you determine care is needed, the next step is figuring out which type and how often. Private duty home care is a service provided so elderly and disabled can remain independent in their own homes.

It is either paid by the client, long-term insurance or if the client is eligible, by veterans benefits. Medicare will only pay for visits by physical and occupational therapists and those services must be prescribed by the client's doctor.

It is important to compare services and overall oversight. You can ask a few basic questions to each agency:

  • Do you have a full-time nurse on staff overseeing the caregivers in the homes?
  • How often does the nurse visit?
  • Are you accredited by one of the three healthcare quality organizations (Joint Commission, Community Health Accreditation Partner and Accreditation Commission for Healthcare)?**
  • Are your caregivers employees or contractors?
  • What is your screening and hiring process for caregivers?
  • What if we don't like the caregiver assigned?
  • What if we love the caregiver and want to hire him/her directly?
  • Do you carry professional liability insurance?
  • If a caregiver gets hurt in my home, who is responsible?
  • Is after-hours on call service available?
  • What special training do you provide for dementia patients?
  • Why should I choose you over another agency?

**Accreditation is important because the State of Michigan does not provide licensing for private duty home care. So there is no state authority overseeing the quality of care in your parent's home. Becoming accredited by one of the three organizations listed above provides that quality oversight.

Anne Marie Gattari, of Grosse Pointe Park, is owner and operator of BrightStar Care of Grosse Pointe / Macomb, 22811 Greater Mack Ave., Ste. 109, St. Clair Shores, MI 48080. Gattari can be reached at 586.279.3610. BrightStar Care is a member of The Family Center's Association of Professionals.

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