7 Tips for Choosing a Home Health Aide
If you care for someone who requires daily monitoring and assistance, you may have thought about partnering with a home health aide.
A home health aide can provide around-the-clock care, freeing up time for you to work, run errands, or do other necessary tasks. Still, you don't want to rush the decision. It's important to choose a personal care aid who's experienced and trustworthy. To make the process a little easier, we've created this list of 7 tips.
1. Determine the type of care your loved one needs
There are two types of home health aides—skilled caregivers and caregivers who provide daily support.
Skilled caregivers have medical training and special certifications. For example, they might be a registered nurse or have experience working at a skilled nursing facility. These professionals have the knowledge and expertise to provide comprehensive at-home care for people with underlying conditions like diabetes, Parkinson's disease, or dementia. Daily support caregivers help with routine needs, including meal preparation, bathing, dressing, laundry, housekeeping, and transportation to appointments.
Before you start interviewing candidates, identify your loved one's needs. The level of care they require can help you narrow down the list of home health aides.
2. Set a budget
Hiring a home health aide can be expensive, but you don't necessarily have to pay for everything out of pocket. Brittani Ferri, PhD, an occupational therapist with Medical Solutions BCN, recommends seeking outside help. "Look for grants and other sources of community funding to assist. There are many available if your loved one is low-income or on disability. Medicaid and Medicare can assist with even more resources if either is their form of insurance."
There are also funding options for our neighbors to the north. "When hiring a home health aide, something to remember is that it's an investment in your loved one's healthcare and well-being. If your family is struggling financially, the Canadian Government offers financial assistance to help fund the care," said Raymond Dacillo, Director of Operations at C-Care Health Services in Toronto, Ontario.
3. Write out a schedule
Once you know what your care recipient needs, and how much you can afford for home care services, it's time to draft a care plan. Ferri recommends writing out your loved one's schedule, "including their routines, a list of their medicines and instructions for taking them, mealtimes, and their favorite leisure activities."
Ferri continues, "include anything that is pertinent for your loved one on a given day. Also, have an emergency sheet handy with your phone number, the doctor's phone number, local emergency room information, and the Life Alert hotline."
4. Prepare for the interview process
Now the fun part begins—interviews!
There are several questions that are important to ask, but Dacillo says a few are especially important, including:
What is your experience like working with people with *X condition*?
If the person you are looking after has a bad day and refuses to cooperate, how will you handle the situation?
Do you have any expectations or boundaries?
What type of training do you have?
Can you tell me about your previous home health aide experience?
Are you licensed, insured, and accredited?
During the interview process, try and get to know each individual. Do they have a positive attitude? How do they make you and your loved one feel? The answers to these questions are just as important as their skills and experience.
5. Remember that personality matters
Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver. Meg Marrs, the founder of Safer Senior Care in Witchita Falls, Texas, says, "a home health aide needs to be caring, compassionate, and have lots of patience. They need empathy, perseverance, and to have good communication skills, as well as obviously, being dependable."
Dacillo agrees, especially when it comes to patience, "having patience is essential because caregivers need to be able to adapt and adjust. If someone is less patient, there can be lots of conflicts, creating an uncomfortable environment for everyone."
6. Ask for references
After finishing the interviews, ask each candidate for references. Many home care agencies vet employees themselves and conduct thorough background checks. If you're hiring an independent care provider, ask for at least two references. Marrs also recommends establishing a trial care period. Before you sign onto a long-term care agreement, it's important to see if the home health aide is a good fit.
7. Reevaluate the plan regularly
Once you hire a home health aide, it's important to reevaluate their services every few months. If your loved one has an underlying condition that requires more specialized healthcare, like physical therapy, or they're terminally ill and moved to a hospice facility, their needs may change. Being adaptable and willing to go with the flow can make all the difference.
We hope you've found these seven tips for choosing a home health aide helpful.
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