8 Questions to Ask Your Home Health Care Agency Or Nurse

If you are in the process of finding a home care services agency or if you are considering hiring a home care nursing aide or a home health care physical therapist or occupational therapist, it is critical to find out their qualifications.

We assembled a list of 8 questions you can ask the home care agency to ensure that you are choosing the right provider for your needs.

1) What is the background of the home care company & how long have they been in business?

You want to find a reputable in home nursing agency that has been in business for a number of years and has a successful track record. Most newer home nursing care agencies haven’t been around long enough to build a proven track record or a list of red flags.

So, it’s important to find out as much information about the company as possible. You can do this by finding information on who owns the company and what role the ownership plays in the type and levels of service.

2) What are the home nursing care agencies qualifications, certifications, experience and training of their home care aides and nurses?

It’s extremely important to find out about the credentials of the home health aides and nurses that the home care company sends to your home.

Make sure their home health aides and nurses are certified and have received adequate training.

3) How does the home nursing care agency monitor care and can the family provide feedback?

Find out if there are any quality assurance measures in place. Many home health care agencies periodically visit the home of the client or make regular calls to gather client feedback.

If this is not the case, find out how a family member can provide feedback on the quality of care or who they may contact in the home care agency to have any questions answered.

4) Are there any home visits or assessments that take place prior to home health care services beginning?

Find out if there are any options available that allow the family members, client and the home care agency representative to meet prior to the start of services. Most reputable home nursing care agencies offer free consultations.

5) Does the agency have a current operating license in their respective state or city?

It is important to find out if the home health care agency has a current and valid license to operate in their respective city or state. This often overlooked aspect is the most important factor in choosing a home health care agency.

6) How does the home nursing care company work with your doctor in developing a plan of care?

Most agencies work directly with your doctor in planning for your care, especially if the client requires care that is beyond the scope of activities related to activities of daily living.

7) Can the home care company provide references or testimonials?

Most reputable home health care companies can provide references from doctors, nurses, social workers and even clients if requested. They may even have a page on their website that is dedicated to providing this type of information to potential clients.

8) What happens if a home health aide or nurse is absent from the agency on a particular day?

If the home health care provider is required to take a day off for illness or another emergency, what type of protocol is put in place by the home health care company to cover the absence?

There are usually plans put in place to ensure that the client receives that continuity of care in the event of an absence by their home care provider or nurse.

5 Things To Consider When Integrating Your Home Health Care With Medicare

Medicare can be perplexing, all the more so when you combine complex health issues and the need for medical aids such as oxygen or hospital beds. While the insurance maze can be difficult to traverse, an estimated 47.5 million people received this program in 2010, which is more than a sixth of the nation’s population.

Here is a brief overview and some answers to some commonly asked questions regarding Medicare and home health care.

1. Who qualifies?

Medicare is a national health insurance program provided by the U.S. government for those who are:

– 65 and older

– Under 65 with certain disabilities

– Diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), a form of permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant

2. What types of services does Medicare cover?

Medicare has four different coverage sections: Part A, B, C, and D. “Original Medicare” consists of Part A & B, while Part C is known as “Medicare Advantage Plan”. These four parts are summarized briefly:

– Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

* Part A covers care while in hospital as well as health care in skilled nursing facilities, home health care, and hospice.

– Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance

* Part B covers doctor’s visits as well as visits to other health care providers. Additionally, Part B covers hospital outpatient care, durable medical equipment (like intravenous infusion devices), and home health care services. Part B also covers specific types of preventative services, such as getting certain vaccinations.

– Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage

* Part C combines health plan options you purchase from other private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Part C also integrates Medicare Prescription drug coverage (Part D) and can be tailored to include extra benefits at an extra cost.

– Medicare Part D: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

* Part D covers the prescription of Medicare-approved prescription drugs and can lower the cost of other medications. Similar to Part C, Medicare-approved private insurance companies also run Part D.

3. Why do I need to choose between Medicare plans?

The choice of “Original Medicare” (Parts A & B) entails payment of monthly premiums for part B and may necessitate additional coverage to pay deductibles and coinsurance to see physicians, hospitals, and other providers who accept Medicare. If you require Prescription drug coverage, you must pay a monthly premium to join the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

The “Medicare Advantage Plan” (Part C, which covers Part A & B), also requires the payment of monthly premiums in addition to the Part B premium & a copayment for in-plan doctors, hospitals. If prescription medications are not covered by your supplemental coverage, you have the option of joining the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D).

As with prescription medications, you can purchase supplemental coverage to cover services not covered by Medicare. The “Original Medicare” plan allows for the option of buying Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap), while the “Medicare Advantage Plan” does not.

It is prudent to always check if you can take advantage of other additional coverage through your employer or union, military, or Veteran’s benefits.

4. Is home health care covered by Medicare?

The Medicare website states, “Medicare only covers home health care on a limited basis as ordered by your doctor”. As reviewed earlier, Parts A & B are the Medicare options which cover the home health care services specified by Medicare.

Coverage of home health care by Medicare in New Mexico stipulates you must meet the following criteria:

– You are currently receiving regular services from a physician. This physician must also maintain a care plan unique to you, which is reviewed regularly.

– Your physician must certify a “need” for specific medical services such as requirements for intravenous medication therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, or speech-language pathology services.

– The home health care agency providing you services must be Medicare-certified (for more details see below).

– Your physician must certify your health status as homebound, which is indicated by the following:

* Your health condition limits you from leaving the house.

* You are unable travel from home without help (i.e. transportation assistance such as aids or individuals).

* Leaving your home takes considerable effort and may be detrimental to your health condition.

5. My home health company does not take Medicare, why is this?

The Medicare-approval process is lengthy and costly, so while it may appear that many companies may not take Medicare, they may actually be in the process of becoming Medicare certified.

Furthermore, the Medicare criteria for individual qualifying to receive home health care are very strict; the reality is that many people who may apply for coverage by Medicare for their approved home health company services will not actually receive coverage. Currently, Medicare pays only about half of all health care costs to seniors. Medicare very often denies payment due to not meeting criteria, so it is essential to be aware if you meet these criteria prior to restricting yourself exclusively to Medicare-approved home health care companies.

Home Health Care Services – Allowing Those Who Need Help To Live Independent Lives

Old age can keep us from doing things we once thought were easy. As we grow older, living on our own can become something of a struggle. However, home care and home health care services can provide the elderly or sick with the aid and activity they need on a daily basis, allowing them to continue living an independent life.

With over one million people making use of home health care, it has proven to be a successful alternative to long-term nursing facilities. A normal home care service consists of a nurse or aid visiting the patient’s home every day to help assist with whatever needs assisting. This can vary from simply cooking meals and housecleaning to providing the patient with physical therapy and medicine. No aspect of what a patient needs is overlooked, and every patient is treated differently according to his or her needs. While one patient might need help keeping maintenance of his or her home and minor physical therapy, another may require help in being bathed and fed. Nurses are trained to be attentive to any potential needs their patient may have.

The need for home health care isn’t always clearly determined. It is a good idea to consult with a doctor before deciding whether you or someone you know should seek the aid of home health care services. Consulting with a doctor may also help you financially. If your doctor confirms the need for home services and orders it, financial burden can be lifted off your shoulders through Medicare. Research the agency you use to make sure they can do whatever needs to be done to aid you or a loved one. Check if the nurses are licensed and trained. This research can help prevent any problems along the way.

One important thing to remember is that home care services and home health care services are different. While home care may provide the elderly with daily check-ups and domestic services, home health care includes helping a patient recover from an ailment, such as a heart attack or stroke. Depending on what is required, you might want to make sure that those you’d be hiring are licensed therapists or nurses.

Home health care is a great way to provide yourself or a loved one with the aid and medical treatment that’s needed on a daily basis. It allows patients to live healthy lives without encroaching on their independence. If you or someone you know is not ready to go to a long-term nursing facility, home health care is a viable alternative that might just be worth looking into.

Is Home Health Care For You?

To find out if the disabled person a disabled person is in need of home health care assistance, you should seek the advice of a physician. Be sure to find out the patient you are considering requires professional home health care or home care services.

Professional home health care services givers include the medial aspect such as nurses, therapists, home health care assistants, and other licensed and certified medical caregivers. They are present to administer skilled care to the patient.

Home care services are provided to those who need assistance with tasks such as house cleaning, running errands, cooking, and just being around to assist if the patient needs other tasks such as these performed.

Social workers also play a part in home health care. They can provide counseling for emotional and social problems that the patient may be experiencing. They will direct those who need it to community resources which are available to them. They have various other services to offer as well.

Companions are another part of the care giving team. They are the ones who provide companionship to people who can not stay by themselves. If a disabled person stays by their self having a companion there to assist them can help if an emergency situation should occur.

To be assured that you have the best quality home health care for your disabled family member speak with others who are having or have had the same experience as you are going through.

Make sure that the home health caregiver that you request is experienced in care giving. The caregiver’s supervisor should manage the care provided to make sure the patient is receiving quality health care.

Whether you are hiring a home health care provider on your own or through an agency be sure to conduct an interview. Go over the needs of the patient and make sure the caregiver is capable of providing the type care that the patient needs. Advise the caregiver on medications, physical and mental problems that the patient may have, and how to deal with them. Make sure they know where everything is situated in the house which pertains to patient care. It will help in case of an emergency.

The payment for home health care services may be paid by the patient or some such as a family member. Medicare, under certain guidelines, will pay for skilled caregivers. There are others such as Medicaid, the Veterans Administration, and Social Services have programs which assist qualified patients. There are various other payers such as private insurances and more.

If the cause of illness is a work related incident workers compensation could pay for the home health care needed. In any case, the actual cost of home health care depends on which state the patient resides in.

Home Health Care Insurance

There are various insurance policies that help pay for or totally cover the costs of home health care. Consumers are reminded to be very cautious when shopping, comparing and buying home health care insurance policies because coverage is often limited. Considering the limitations and loopholes that home health care insurance has, they may be more expensive than other insurance policies. Home health care may only be accounted for by comprehensive insurance policies with pay benefits for nursing homes, assisted living communities, and adult day care.

Types of Home Health Care Insurance

The different types of home health care insurance depend on each policy’s extent of coverage when paying for home health care services. Private insurance usually only pays for part of the home health care costs which include personal and hospice care. Managed care insurance plans may offer some help with home health care costs if the home health care provider is Medicare-certified, these plans also require hefty premiums.

There are also existing home care policies which actually pays for the excess amounts that your original insurance policy does not cover. These supplemental insurance policies cover additional payments on home medical equipment as well. Long-term care insurance cover most medical and nursing services including licensed home health care costs. They may even include personal care as well as services incurred for the upkeep and maintenance of the policyholder’s home. Long term care insurance is paid for in monthly installments based on the individual’s age and health conditions. Many times, the benefits may only be reaped after a pre-defined waiting period, or when the insurance company decides the financial assistance is actually necessary.

Originally, long term care insurance policies were intended to pay for a lengthy stay in a nursing home, yet because of the public demand and preference for home health care, a lot of long term care insurance policies now cover in-home services which may vary greatly according to plans. Considerations regarding pre-existing health conditions and prior hospitalizations usually limit the coverage of these insurance policies.

Home Health Care Certification

What exactly is home health care and how do you enter this booming market? As indicated by its name, home health care is simply health care provided for those that require assistance in their home. It shouldn’t be confuse from basic home care, which does not account for the trained medical care that is provided.

In most cases, simple home care involves meeting the day to day needs of your loved one, like shopping, cleaning and errand running, and is mostly provided by friends or family. On occasion a companion is hired to perform these tasks. In contrast, home health care is usually provided by a trained professional. This may be a nurse, a therapist, or a home health aide.

To become a home health care professional, you will be required to receive some type of training. The training focus will usually center on home safety in regards to the patient. You will also receive training on how to deliver professional personal care, and how to properly use the equipment needed to assist those requiring home health care services.

The training required for the various positions can vary from on the job training to more advanced training that requires certification or a degree. The largest organization that offers training for home health care certification is the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. They offer various certification programs.

If you are in a current management position, you may want to become certified as a Home Care and Hospice Executive. If you want to receive a certification in the hands on training area, you can apply for the Home Care Aide National Certification program. No matter which certification you seek, you will need to re-certify every four years.

For the home care aides, the certification process will involve three elements that you must pass. You must pass the Training portion, the Skills Demonstration, and the Written Examination. The training portion requires a curriculum of 75 hours. This training will give you the medical skills to become fully certified.

The Skills Demonstration portion involves demonstrating competency in seventeen various skills. Demonstration of this competency comes from observation and documentation. The Written Examination is administered by the Home Care University. Obtaining your certification will ensure patients and clients that you are providing them with a higher standard of home care aide.

Whether you desire to enter this field in a management position, or as a hands-on care provider, the home health care industry has an increased need for professionals in this field. Because of our aging population, the need is expected to continue to rise through the next ten years or so. Obtaining your certification in this area will give you a leg up on your competition.

Home Health Care Keeps Seniors Home

There are many things that seniors enjoy. They often enjoy the benefits of their life long work. They also enjoy their independence. As they age, many of their loved ones worry about their ability to stay in their home alone. Rather than give up their independence, they will investigate the options of home health care to satisfy their concerns.

As seniors advance in age, they can sometimes experience age related issues. Sometimes they aren’t able to do things they used to because they don’t have the energy to do them. Families don’t like seeing their loved ones lose the ability to do things and it makes them wonder if they are able to care for themselves in a sufficient manner. Instead of seniors bowing to pressure and moving into a nursing home, they find an agency that specializes in home health care and continue to live in their home.

When seniors look to find a home health care agency, they find there are many agencies that can help them. These agencies have many different services available to for them to choose from. When seniors are ready to decide, they normally will make an appointment to speak with a representative that can guide them through the process.

As the agency representative meets with their prospective client, they listen to the things that are being said. It is important for them to get a clear understanding of what the client needs. When seniors are looking for a home health care professional, not only are they answering questions, they are asking many questions so they can get an understanding of the programs and benefits.

Seniors are normally very honest in the things they need help with. They want to continue to live independently and to have a home health care professional work with them will ensure they are able to do so for as long as possible. These seniors have to consider many different things before they start the service.

Some seniors are in very good health. They are able to live independently and care for themselves very well. They sometimes have trouble doing certain things around their home because of their age but they can still manage their household. For seniors in this situation, having a home health care professional visit once a week may be ideal. They can help with errands that need to be run, correspondence or just to check their health. Seniors enjoy the help and they don’t feel they are being intruded upon.

There are other seniors that need more help from their home health care professional. Some seniors unfortunately have different medical or age related problems that interfere in their ability to care for themselves. Families worry and try to help them as much as possible but sometimes it’s not enough. For seniors in this position, they need a home health care professional to visit daily, helping with basic household chores and ensuring they are in good health. Many home care professionals also assist their clients with basic life skill activities such as bathing, brushing their teeth or even cooking.

Once seniors have decided the amount of help they need, the make arrangements with the home health care agency of their choice. These agencies are familiar with the struggles many seniors face and strive to ensure they are able to continue enjoying life and good health. Their families are relieved that their loved ones are able to continue their independence but allowing a medical professional to help.

Learning About Home Health Care

An unfortunate part of aging can be losing the ability to take care of yourself. Whether you are living alone or with someone at your constant beck and call, the complication of being able to do less is a continual hardship. There are many solutions to dealing with such a struggle. One in particular that is becoming increasingly popular is home health care.

Home health care is essentially receiving services you would at a hospital or nursing facility inside your own home. The advantages to this in-home care are numerous.

For example, think of some services your daily week requires: laundry, grocery shopping, cooking. Now think of work you have trouble doing that is even more basic in scope: getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating, going to the bathroom. This is where home health care spans and fills the gaps of your need.

Of course, we’ve all heard this routine before. So how does home health care outweigh that of a nursing home?

The first way is basic, but something on everyone’s mind and that’s cost of care. As individuals who need care, or as family members looking to provide care for their elders, the most important decision is cost. No one wants to feel like a financial burden on another, nor does a friend or loved one wish to deal with the guilt of paying less for care that provides fewer services, if need be.

With home health care, one doesn’t have to worry about sacrificing care for cost. Since any individual receiving these services isn’t having to worry about being charged for the utilities of a facility or on-hand resources, the costs instantly dwindle. That leads us to the next advantage.

Remaining in your own home keeps you one step ahead of the game. There’s no having to find a sterile room or apartment at a larger facility and trying to make it your ‘own.’ There’s no better advantage than feeling safe in your surroundings and that’s the foremost provision of this care: you’ll get to feel comfortable sooner and faster than anywhere else.

The next way is by individualized attention. A person doesn’t just get home health care, but they can received skilled health services like speech therapy or physical therapy.

While the latter can sound daunting, they’re generally not. Often speech therapy begins with practicing new words or word games to help sharpen the mind. Physical therapy as well as occupational therapy can be easy pinpointing of symptoms: from hand stretches to limited weightlifting with the feet. The upshot is it’s one-on-one directed.

Overall, it’s important to think about home health care in terms of who is the one receiving the benefits. If an individual is struggling and not able to perform everyday maintenance in their life, they shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed or out of place to solve the issue. Home health care offers a reliable and personal treatment to the often expensive out-of-house care of nursing homes.

What to Look for in a Home Health Care Provider

Anyone in need of home health care deserves non-medical care or in home medical care that is compassionate whether the patient is a child, adult or elder. Home health care services are provided anywhere except for in nursing homes or a hospital. These services may even be provided at an assisted living facility, a school, apartment or house.

As far as care plans go, there are a wide variety of personal care and nursing services that are not just available, they are tailored for the needs of each individual recipient. Customized care plans and follow up assessments should be provided by a registered nurse.

Nursing Supervision and Case Management

The care that is provided by personal care assistants and home health aides is typically supervised by a registered nurse. One of these registered nurses should be on call at all times in order to assist the caregivers as well as to provide medical training and oversight and to implement the plans of care.

Elder or Adult Care

Are you aware of the fact that 75% of the health care costs in the US are incurred by only 12% of Americans? These people generally have some type of chronic illness. The benefits of this type of individualized home care include much more than just being able to keep someone at home for their illness as opposed to being institutionalized or put in a long term care facility. As far as cost goes, home care visits are roughly only 10% of what a single day in the hospital will cost.

Additionally, home health care has a track record that has been proven when it comes to things such as reducing readmissions to the hospital, expensive visits to the emergency room and in managing chronic illnesses. In addition, there is scientific evidence that has proven that patients are able to heal faster when they are in their own homes. Both morbidity and mortality rates are reduced in patients who take advantage of home health care. In fact, 90% of seniors facing long term care in nursing homes prefer to stay home and get the services of a home health care provider.

Private Elder Care Coordination, Planning and Management

This involves both advising and then assisting families when it comes to determining the necessities of an aging adult. These caregivers are able to navigate many of the long term type of care resources that are available in your area. The goal here is to educate and inform the family of what the options are and them to assist them with the implementation of their decision. Typically this is done by an RN who has been certified and specially trained in the area of geriatrics who can provide:

The services of being a liaison for family members who may live a great distance away
Educating and advocating for the patient
Assisting with paperwork and forms that are related to insurance, medical assistant and Medicare
Screening, arranging for and then monitoring any in home help or options for institutional or residential care options
Care planning that is tailored to the patient

In the long run home health care is a compassionate and caring choice for anyone who needs care and wishes to remain in their own home.

Home Health Care, an Alternative to Nursing Homes

More and more people are choosing home health care as an alternative to entering assisted living facilities. There are different levels of care available to individuals who wish to remain in their homes but who need a little extra help. Having these options make it possible for lots of folks to stay in their houses longer and live their own lives. There are several compelling reasons families are choosing this for their loved ones.

Better for the Well-Being of the Patient

Studies have shown that being allowed to stay at home and to maintain some level of independence is better for the patient’s overall health. Feeling “put away” can cause feelings of depression or hopelessness, which in turn may cause increased health problems. If a patient has a say in their own care, they feel much better and their body can recover and heal more efficiently. This is true even if they do decide to enter a nursing home, but simply having the option is a big help.

Comfortable and Convenient

When the time comes when someone needs a little special attention or care, it is important for them to be as comfortable as possible. A big change in their health condition is stressful enough. Sometimes, the best decision is to make sure they can stay in their own home where everything is familiar, so that there aren’t as many drastic changes all at once.

Not having to pack a bag or decide what can stay or go is another benefit to home health care. Everything is as it always was, but now there is someone there to help with the details.

Affordable

The old stereotype about home health care is that it is not affordable except for the super-rich. This is not at all the case. An ever increasing number of health insurance providers are covering this type of care, and certain government programs can offer financial assistance.

Easier on Families

Home health care is a wonderful blessing for couples who need help for one person but not the other. The couple can stay together in their own home, but without the pressure of one person having to provide constant assistance to the other. The strain is off the partner, and the couple can simply enjoy being together. This also has health benefits for the partner.

Kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters might be helping out with the health care needs of an individual just so they can stay at home. With a home health care provider, the patient will receive professional assistance. The family members also benefit, because when they come to visit they can just spend quality time together instead of concerning themselves with all the health issues.

Home health care is a welcome option for many folks who are trying to decide how to plan for the future in light of their physical requirements. While a nursing home is still a very good option for many people, it is reassuring that there are choices out there to fit everyone’s individual needs.