Things to Consider Before Hiring In-Home Care

If you need in-home care for parents or a loved one, it might be tempting to call the first number that comes up in a search or grab the first business card in a stack. This could be a mistake as not all home care providers are the same. Some offer different services, and there are a few in-home care companies that emphasize service more than others. Obviously, you want the best care possible for your loved one so it’s important to scrutinize providers before making a decision. When you decide to look for a provider to deliver senior care at home, take these five things into consideration.

Credentials and Licensing
Any reputable home care provider should have credentials and licensing. For example, in Tennessee, a provider should be licensed by the state as a Personal Support Services Agency. You should also ask if the provider is properly bonded and insured.

Detailed Information
Aside from a phone number for an agency, there should also be some detailed information available about the company and its services. Ideally, they will have a professional and informative website as well as some sort of social media presence. If you can’t get all of your questions answered online, call the company and ask further questions or request that a brochure be sent to your home.

Reputable Caregivers
When you invite someone into your home for any reason, you want to feel safe. The best home care providers will take great pains to employ caring and responsible caregivers. For example, people who provide elder care should be thoroughly interviewed, given a criminal background check, drug test, and undergo a personal reference check.

Privacy Concerns
While you might not always receive medical care from an in-home care provider, it’s still just as important as ever that your personal information is protected. Any provider that you choose should be a HIPAA-compliant agency. This means that the company will protect your information, and the only people that have access to any of your data are those who are directly involved in your care.

Scheduling Methods
Another thing that you’ll want to ask about is how the agency handles their scheduling. For example, if you need to cancel services, how much notice do they require? In most cases 24 hours is reasonable. Also, if you are contracting for senior care at home and the patient wishes to make a change for any reason, will this be an issue? Some care facilities might be short-staffed on occasion, so it’s a good idea to find out if there are procedures in place send a substitute caregiver when needed.

Hiring in-home care for parents or a loved one can be stressful when it’s a new experience. Use these tips to ensure you’re bringing the right company and elder care providers into your home the first time.

Health Care Gains Access in Rural Areas Through Home Care

While it’s true that over the past century, the average life expectancy for Americans has increased by about 25 years, that figure is not universally true throughout the United States. In some rural areas of the country, and particularly with seniors, life expectancy has remained relatively stagnant, and has actually decreased slightly. The biggest reason for this is that there just aren’t enough doctors and caregivers to provide skilled care in those more remotes sections, although it’s also true that health insurance has not been as available to that demographic as to others.

Other problems with rural care

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), everyone does have the right to care in this country, but that is not equivalent to having access to treatment when it’s really needed – and for many advanced seniors, the consequences of zero treatment can be life-threatening. Studies have shown clearly that rural seniors have to travel longer distances, to see fewer doctors, with bigger caseloads – and quite often don’t have medical coverage or money to pay for treatment. As a result, seniors in urban areas outlive those in country settings by a clear margin.

Efforts to provide care

In a desperate attempt to entice more young doctors to rural areas, some states like Colorado have begun offering residency programs at state-supported universities. Since statistics show that most doctors settle in areas within 150 miles of where they did residencies, that should serve to encourage more young doctors to remain in under-served areas of the state.

Some rural area hospitals have offered to help young doctors pay off their college loans through a kind of loan repayment program, in exchange for working in designated areas where medical professionals are in scarce supply. Both this tactic and the one above, wherein residency programs are offered, have met with limited success, but are still far short of filling the vast need for skilled medical help in rural areas.

Success through home care

Probably the most successful attempt so far for bridging the gap between rural patients and qualified medical professionals, has been provided by technology, specifically that of senior care at home. Pilot programs have already been setup in many of the more remote rural areas which lack the needed doctors and health care professionals. By connecting the two parties over the Internet, some level of interaction has become possible, where none existed before.

This solves several problems at once, particularly the travel issue and the non-resident physician one. Still, it is not the perfect answer, because the question of physical treatment must still be ironed out somehow, so urgent cases can be handled effectively. If some of the remaining issues for elder care at home can be resolved in the future, there just may be a brighter outlook for under-served seniors in rural areas of this country.