Look at These 8 Areas to Find a Home Health Care Agency
Finding the right home health care agency for your family’s situation may be a bit challenging because today there are many agencies providing a variety of care services, from home health care to home care or personal assistance services of one kind or another.
Keep in mind that home health care agencies may provide both skilled and unskilled care. Generally, skilled care is defined as services that are licensed and regulated, such as those provided by nurses, doctors, social workers, and therapists that specialize in rehabilitation (speech, physical, respiratory, or occupational).
Home health care agencies provide care services through teams of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, homemakers, and others.
These agencies are regulated by state and federal laws and are often Medicare- and Medicaid-certified (approved), which means they receive payment from these programs for providing home health care services (ADRC 2014).
Below are questions to ask when looking for a home health care (or home care) agency (Patton, 2013):
- Can the license be verified through a state website?
Types of Accepted Insurance
- Which services are billable through Medicare or other insurance plans?
- Is the agency Medicare-approved/certified (required to bill Medicare or Medicaid)?
- How is billing handled for services that are not covered by insurance?
- Agency references Can the agency provide verifiable contact information for physicians, hospitals, discharge planners, or previous clients who are willing to provide a reference?
Types of Provided Services
- Do services match the needs of the older client?
- How do supervisors monitor and evaluate the provided services or care?
- What information is required for the first meeting (e.g., specific services needed, contact phone numbers of agency and family members, whether the client can make decisions or who has power of attorney)?
Provider Qualifications and Credentials
- What credentials do employees have?
- How are employees trained?
- Do employees participate in ongoing education?
Contacting the Agency After Hours
- During what hours is the agency available? (If the agency is Medicare-approved, it must be available 24/7 by phone.)
Subcontractors or Employees
- If the agency uses subcontractors, does it guarantee that the same person will make every visit (an important requirement for individuals who have Alzheimer’s disease)?
- What are the qualification requirements for different classifications of employees?
- Is training provided within the agency?
- Does the agency perform background checks?
- Are employees bonded or insured?
- Are employees certified in basic life support and first aid?
- Personal care plan Does the agency provide a detailed written care plan for each individual and share that plan with the family before beginning care?
Procedure for Changing Caregivers
- Can the older adult or family interview and select the people providing the care in their home, prior to the start of service?
"What to Look for When Choosing a Home Health Care Agency," Aging and Disability Resource Center of Broward County (ADRC 2014).
Patton, C. (2013). No place like home. Heart Insight, 8–11.
Society of Certified Senior Advisors, Working with Older Adults: A Professional’s Guide to Contemporary Issues of Aging (2015).
The Working with Older Adults course offered by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors gives professionals a practical, comprehensive understanding of health, social and financial issues that are important to many older adults, including ethical issues specific to aging. For more information, or to enroll in a class, click here.