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Creating Beautiful Days For Seniors

How to Get Home Health Care for Parents

More than 20% of adults reported taking care of a family member in the past 30 days. However, for many families providing care on their own is not an option. Yet where can you find quality home care for your parents? Who do you trust? How do you know the kind of care you need? What makes a great caregiver?
Nurse Advising Senior Couple About Home Care

How to Find a Caregiver

Learning how to hire a caregiver for the elderly starts with understanding where you can locate quality referrals. Whether you’re looking for home health care, help with Activities of Daily Living, companion care, or intensive nursing support there are several sources that you should consider.

Directory Sites
These are large networks that allow you to search for caregivers in your area. Their advantage is the in-depth profiles provided and the fact that you will be able to view several dozen caregivers. There are also sorting features to narrow your search. So, these sites can be a useful starting point.

However, directories are not constantly maintained. So, many of the profiles will no longer be active. Additionally, anyone can post a profile and say they are qualified. There is limited if any verification of caregivers listed.

The biggest drawback though is that you have to do all the work. From contacting the caregiver, to verifying certifications and experience, everything is up to you. Then you have to arrange an interview, create a schedule and make payment arrangements. All of this can be daunting.

Referrals from Friends
If you have a family member or friend who’s hired in-home care, they may be able to point you in the direction of a caregiver you can trust. These referrals can be great as there is personal experience with the caregiver.

However, you do not know how your friend located the caregiver, or if they did their due diligence to fully vet for previous experience and background. When you welcome a caregiver into your home having a full check on them is more reassuring than simply taking someone’s word.

So, a friend referral can be helpful, just make sure to do your own verification. You will still need to make arrangements directly with the caregiver.

Large National Agencies
The above two options can get you referrals, but all the work is up to you. The next two options provide a complete solution.

There are several national home care agencies that can connect you with caregivers. Their advantage is that they do the legwork. Additionally, providers are fully screened and the company works with you to find someone with the right skill set. Scheduling and payment is arranged through them. So, all you have to do is call and work through their process to get the home care you need.

While these companies can be a good resource, they do not know the local area or the available caregivers. Their referrals are based on reading info on a screen, not from having a relationship with the provider. Also, due to their size it is almost impossible to talk to the same agent twice. This can hinder building rapport.

Locally Managed Nurse Registries
Local companies offer all the advantages of national agencies, yet are much more personal and actually care about establishing long-term relationships with their clients. As the staffs are smaller you will get to know each one and calling a friend is always better than talking to a stranger. So, customer support will be better.

The service reps you talk with live in the same area as the seniors they serve. They also have personal contact with the caregivers they refer and usually have worked with them for years. This familiarity means you get a better match based not just on skills and experience, but also on personality.

Another huge advantage is the process of helping you find care. Registries will send a certified nurse to meet at your home. They will work with you to create a detailed care plan that considers everything that impacts your level of care. Then they will make several caregiver referrals so you can select the best fit for you. Many national agencies just get a little info and send whoever is available.

Local registries cost about the same (or less), as national agencies and with the additional support and personal involvement they offer, they are a great source for caregiver referrals.

Qualities to Look for in a Caregiver

What makes a good caregiver? The answer is a blend of qualities combined with their ability to establish a personal connection with those they care for. Below are some important traits to consider.

Credentials
Anyone can provide basic care for a family member. However, if you looking for a caregiver through a home care agency, or a nurse registry they will either have an HHA certification, or a CNA license.

To be certified as an HHA (home health aide) you must successfully complete a 40-hour training course, or a 75-hour course if working through a Medicare home health agency.

To be licensed as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) you must pass a state exam, usually after attending an extensive training program. CNA’s are regulated by the Florida Department of Health.

There are additional training courses that must be kept current to maintain certification/licensure. These CEU’s (continuing education units) include HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Domestic Violence, Medical Tech and more.

Background Checks
Caregivers become a part your home. Not only do they provide physical care for their patients, but they also have access to personal data, finances and valuables. So, you need to feel safe and secure before you welcome them into your home.

A basic check will verify employment and criminal history. A level 2 background check goes deeper and includes fingerprinting, comprehensive state and FBI checks, and verification of education and credentials. Most importantly level 2 reveals any previous neglect or abuse of seniors.

Background checks are crucial for your peace of mind. But they do not tell you everything. References can help give you a true sense of what to expect from a caregiver, including their work ethic, personality, and who they are as a person.

One of the biggest advantages of working with an agency is that they will do all this for you, so you can make an informed decision before hiring a caregiver.

Experience
Completing a training program and then certification is a great first step, but nothing can substitute for actually providing care for a senior.

Consider the type of care you need. If you are looking for companion care, or someone to sit with your loved one then a caregiver with the training, but less experience would be ok. Yet if the senior needs specialized care such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, or intensive 24/7 care you need to find a provider with specific experience providing that type of care.

Experience is very important, but do not let that be the only criteria you consider. Personality and enthusiasm also play a role in providing great care.

Reliability
Caregiving is not a 9-5 job full time job. Some seniors need just a few hours now and then, while others need overnight, or even live-in care. So, the nature of scheduling means you need to ensure your caregiver is communicative, will show up on time, and will help with arrangements on days they can’t make it. Working with an agency or registry can relieve a lot of stress when it comes to reliability.

Compassion
While all of the above qualities are important, the ability to provide patient, loving, compassionate care – at all times, is the most important criteria to consider.

Caregiving is not easy. Providers are constantly on the go, and the job is very physical. There is stress when someone’s care is dependent on you. Additionally, at times seniors can be difficult, especially if they are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Then a caregiver has to deal with various family members who each have their opinions of how best to care for mom.

Yet great caregivers see past all this. They have the ability to defuse stress, handle conflicts, and concentrate on their client’s needs. Some of this is training and experience, but there are born caregivers who have real empathy and see the care they provide as not just a job, but a passion and mission. This is the caregiver you want.

Compassion is the most important trait of outstanding caregivers.

Types of Home Care

As you explore caregiving options it is important to realize there are two major types of care: Nursing Care and Assistance with ADL’s. Some seniors may require both of these care types, yet they are vastly different in services provided, level of training, and even who pays for the care.

Skilled or Nursing Care
Nursing or skilled care requires medical training and is under a doctor’s care. Skilled nurses provide care for specific medical condition. They have a set schedule when they arrive, perform their services and leave. They do not stay throughout the day.

This type of care is to help a senior recover from a hospitalization, surgery, or procedure. While the recovery may take days or weeks, generally skilled care has a finite duration. Since this is medically related treatment, insurance and Medicare/caid cover the cost.

Types of care include:
  • IV treatments
  • Skin and wound care
  • Catheter or ostomy care
  • Skin and wound care
Assistance with ADL’s
ADL stands for “Activities of Daily Living”. Many seniors just need a little extra help around the home and that is what this type of care provides. The goal is to improve a senior’s quality of life, restore their sense of independence, and allow them to remain in their own home.

The distinction is that this is not medical care, so payment is the responsibility of the client or long-term care insurance. While caregivers are not medically trained, their skills include: establishing rapport, dealing with depression, sometimes defiance, and motivating a senior to engage with life. ADL care usually is required several hours a day, multiple days a week. These caregivers play a big role in the senior’s life and can become a true friend.

Types of care include:
  • Toileting Assistance
  • Bathing and Grooming
  • Meal Prep and Help with Eating
  • Transferring and Fall Prevention
  • House Keeping and Maintenance
  • Any Activity that Enhances Daily Life

Conclusion

Finding home health care for your parents is a challenge and often comes with some guilt that you cannot provide that care. While seeking care is a tough decision, doing so can make a world of difference in your family’s well-being.

You can educate yourself about the process and eventually find a great caregiver who can provide a level of care beyond your abilities. This will allow you to enjoy time with your parent and reassure you that their care needs are met.
Concierge Care is a Florida based nurse registry. Since 2013 our team has connected thousands of seniors with quality home care. We are available 24/7 and take a personal approach with every client. Let our family help yours find the perfect caregiver.

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Care Coordinator

888-205-9940