Nurse with senior patientWe have often observed that remaining home and ageing in place is the preferred option for most seniors. According to the AARP, nearly 90 percent of seniors prefer to age in their own home, allowing them to remain in familiar surroundings. It is often an economic advantage and good senior home care and in-home senior care or assistance can often make ageing in place, in a familiar home, a practical choice.

Unfortunately, most people do not prepare ahead of time for choosing in-home senior care. When the need arises, they are often confused and do not know where to turn, or even how to evaluate senior home care agencies. What should a senior or their loved one consider when choosing an in-home care provider?

The first thing to think about is the level of care needed. Do you or your senior loved one need specialized medical services to remain in home, or will simple help with housekeeping and personal care be all that is required? You or your senior loved one may not be the best person to answer this question. Get the advice of physicians and healthcare professionals before deciding. Even if the level of care needed is minimal, you should check out the provider’s qualifications carefully.

There is an increasing number of agencies who provide non-medical or companion-type services. These agencies are not usually licensed by either state or federal government regulators; their services are not covered under health insurance because they are non-medical in nature. This is not to say that these services are without value. In fact, companion services like reading and conversation, assisting with dressing, laundry or meal preparation may be essential to a senior who is living at home. However, the staff people who provide these services do not need to be medically qualified.

Check out an agency’s references, the Better Business Bureau data base, even web services like Yelp before trusting the non-medical care of a loved one to one of them. Find out if the caretakers they provide are their own employees, or is the company merely acting as an employment agency for free-lance people. Obviously, an in-home care agency who sends its own employee staff is likely to be more responsible and to know the caretaker well.

A simple question to ask is whether the caretaker receives a W-2 form (for employees) or a Form 1099 for contract workers. While being a contract worker is not a disqualification, the formal employer-employee relationship indicates the caretaker is dependable and well-known to the agency.

An in-home care agency that provides any type of medical care will be regulated by a state agency. In Florida, you can get a guide to these agencies and the services they provide at FloridaHealthFinder.gov. This is a service of the state of Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

Here are some suggestions for choosing a home health care provider:

  • Talk with two or more home health care providers to find one that meets your needs.
  • You may also want to talk with your doctor about your choice.
  • If medical care is needed, discuss this with your doctor. They might write a treatment order for your care, meaning the cost might be paid by your private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

Gradually, professional in-home care providers are beginning to organize, standardize and upgrade professional standards and qualifications for their industry. The Accreditation Commission for Health Care (the ACHC) is a nonprofit accreditation organization that has stood as a symbol of quality and excellence since 1986. The ACHC has CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) Deeming Authority for home health and Hospice care. For certain programs and services, Medicare requires organizations to become accredited by an approved accreditation organization like ACHC before they can participate with Medicare. Accreditation reflects an agency’s dedication and commitment to meeting standards that demonstrate a higher level of performance and patient care.

When looking for any senior-oriented business or professional service, OurSeniors.net stands ready to help. Through our Approved Vendor Program, we vet and qualify businesses and service providers who cater to senior needs of all types. Plan Life Care in Daytona Beach and Partners in HealthCare in Longwood (a new OurSeniors.net Partner) are both ACHC accredited.

You can reach Plan Life’s Daytona office at 386-267-6898. For any senior need, you can contact an OurSeniors.net Advisor by phone at 866-333-2657 (se habla Español), or by using Contact Us. Check out our website at Ourseniors.net and take an online look at our senior living magazine, OurSeniors.net Magazine.