What to Expect When You Call a Home Health Care Agency

If you are caring for a chronically ill family member at home you might feel like you need more help but then hesitate to call a home care agency because of a mistaken belief that you have to know exactly what you need before calling. However, part of the service these agencies provide is to send a professional to your home to help you assess this. 

There is no obligation to utilize the service after this visit. If nothing else, the visit can help you clarify in your own mind how well you are managing. It will also help you understand what type of help is available now or in the future.

Types of Care Provided by Home Health Agencies

Bringing a health care worker into your home can be a mixed experience, but is often beneficial for all involved. Photo: Bjwebbiz, Morguefile.com

Bringing a health care worker into your home can be a mixed experience, but is often beneficial for all involved. Photo: Bjwebbiz, Morguefile.com

  1. Non-medical care – some home care agencies provide strictly non-medical care which includes things like household chores, cleaning, running errands, preparing meals, keeping the patient company or driving the patient places.
  2. Personal care – other agencies will provide personal care aides who can help the patient bathe, dress, and move around the house. It is common for people to hire this type of aide when bathing and moving the patient to the toilet become too difficult for the family member. It is also common to use this type of care aide when the risk of the patient falling becomes great, requiring constant monitoring of the patient. Personal care aides will often do household chores during down time, for example, while the patient naps.
  3. Medical care – some agencies may provide an in-home health care nurse or trained medical professional to provide medical services such as wound care, injections, rehabilitation and physical therapy. These types of services are often provided as part of a discharge plan after a hospital stay.
  4. Hospice care – if the doctor has stated that the patient is terminal, you can engage hospice workers to help in your home. Some organizations have a hospice setting that you can admit your loved one to.

Benefits of Using a Home Health Agency

  • When working with an agency it is important to make sure that they are licensed, bonded and insured, which protects the family from problems.
  • Agencies can usually provide a caregiver on short notice in an emergency, or they can provide several candidates for the family to choose from.
  • If the caregiver hired through the agency doesn’t work out, the agency should be able to provide someone satisfactory in their place.
  • Agencies often have rigorous screening procedures and provide competent training for their employees.

Benefits of Seeking in Home Care Without Going Through an Agency

  • In caregiving circles, very good home health care aids develop positive reputations and can often be found by simply asking around.
  • You can ask your medical doctor, physical therapist, hospital or nursing home personnel, friends, church members, other family caregivers for recommendations.
  • Sometimes it costs less to hire someone directly. You will avoid agency fees. But more of the decisions and potential problems are left to you to manage, as there is no agency support.

Paying for Services

Health insurance plans may or may not cover some of the services described here. Long term care insurance policies are designed to cover some types of home care. Some charitable agencies, local governments and churches provide some of the services listed above for free.

Psychological Aspects of Securing In Home Health Care

Sometimes the most difficult aspect of getting help is accepting the fact that the loved one’s illness is progressing, and that it may be too difficult to care for them on your own. Or, the patient may object. Support groups and counseling can help you deal with these aspects of the home health care decision.

©Lisa C. DeLuca, all rights reserved.  It is a violation of copyright law to reproduce this work on the web or for business use without permission from the author. This article was originally published on the web in 2008. Please contact the author with your reprint request.


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