What is Senior Home Care?
According to the Home Care Association of America and The Washington Post, "nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will, at some point, be unable to care for themselves without assistance". For some, getting assistance may require moving to a nursing home or an assisted living facility, but it's no secret that the majority still prefer to age in place and remain close to their families, with the help of senior home care services.
But what exactly is senior home care, and what must be considered to determine the quality of a senior home care provider? How can an elderly person's health and wellness be ensured without taking them away from where they are home and happiest?
Types of Senior Home Care
Keeping the senior home and healthy is the whole idea behind senior home care services, which usually come in two key types:
Full-Service vs. Independent Senior Home Caregivers
While full-service agencies are typically more expensive, these providers are known to be extremely strict when accepting caregivers into their staff. Hiring through an agency may also mean the workers are bonded for theft and other issues. And should the assigned caregiver be unable to report for work on a particular day, the agency can easily find someone else to take their place.
On the other hand, independent caregivers usually charge less for their services, but require more work from the senior or the family in terms of meeting tax requirements, conducting background checks, and verifying identities of candidates. Additionally, if the hired caregiver couldn't come for work for any reason, the senior or the family will be responsible for finding a replacement.
Defining "Home" in Senior Home Care
Whether professional or personal home care is provided, or whether the caregiver is hired directly or through an agency, "home" should be defined as a residential area or community rather than the senior's physical house, although that's usually where most care services are rendered. In other words, the overall goal of senior home care is to allow the elderly client to feel safe in their own home while maintaining as much independence as possible.
What to Expect from Senior Home Care
Senior care services may be hired to provide comprehensive caregiving needs or simply to give respite to the client's main caregivers (usually family members). On the other hand, clients with special medical needs may be cared for by a team composed of both personal and medical caregivers.
In general, senior home care workers can be any of the following:Here are some of the most common home care services provided for seniors:
Benefits of Senior Home Care
In-home care can be invaluable to seniors, offering a wide range of benefits that improve their overall health and well-being, including:
Senior Home Care Client Rights and Protections
If a senior or care agency has Medicare, federal law grants the client a number of protections, namely the rights to:
Additionally, home care providers should furnish seniors or their families a copy of their rights, such as:
How to File a Complaint Against a Senior Home Care Provider
Complaints against senior home care providers are usually filed at the public health department of the state where the alleged offense was committed. Seniors or their families can also call the federal government's Home Health Hotline (1-800-628-5972), which is accessible 24/7.
If the complaint is deemed serious enough, the department's investigators will usually conduct interviews, study the complainant's records, and go through other documentation to determine culpability. If a complaint includes more than one allegation, only a single substantiated claim is necessary for the department to continue with the process, which, at this point, will seek to determine whether the agency has indeed incurred federal and/or state violations. If so, the division will issue a citation to the erring provider, which will then submit a corrective action plan that is acceptable to the department.
Choosing a Quality Senior Home Care Provider
Choosing a quality senior home care provider requires a bit of online and in-person research, including approaching the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for referrals. Our directory of Home Care agencies near you is a great place to start (scroll to the bottom of the page and select your state). Before deciding on a particular provider, here are the most important things to consider about:
When contracting senior home care services from an individual instead of an agency, a more thorough screening process is needed and should include a personal interview and a request for references. Before meeting the potential caregiver for the interview, it's good to make a list of the senior's special needs, such as the client needing help when walking.
The caregiver should be able to provide the required assistance. Also, whether the caregiver is hired directly or through an agency, it pays to orient them about the senior's daily routine by having them spend at least a day together before the job officially starts. This will be a perfect opportunity for the caregiver to understand the client's:
Senior Home Care Security
Senior home care agencies are usually required to conduct criminal background checks on their employees, but actual regulations can vary from state to state. This is another reason to get in touch with the local AAA or the state public health department to know what relevant laws apply.
Cost of Senior Home Care
Just as the laws that govern senior home care vary across the states, so does its cost, the biggest factor being the type or types of care needed by the client. For example, if the senior's care plan calls for the expertise of a medical doctor, overall care costs would naturally be higher than if the client only needed basic age-related caregiver services.
Generally speaking, senior home caregivers are paid around $18 to $30 per hour, and payments may be made by clients or their families either directly or through Medicare, Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, or other public and private sources.
The quote used at the beginning of this article, "Nearly 70 percent of Americans who reach age 65 will, at some point, be unable to care for themselves without assistance." is from The Washington Post's "Who will care for America’s aging population?" and also referenced in the HCAOA's "The Value of Home Care."