With the rapidly rising cost of nursing homes and the desire of seniors to stay in their homes, more and more families are turning to home care options, perceiving it as a less disruptive and safer alternative to living in an elder care facility. And why not? There are many services that can be provided in the comfort of a senior’s own home – everything from personal care and housekeeping to professional therapy and medical services. Families have even opted to have round-the-clock in-home care instead of placing a loved one in a nursing home.
Certainly, the option to stay at home is attractive and offers many benefits, but how do you make sure your loved one is receiving the quality of care they need and deserve?
First, you’ll want to ask questions of any company or agency you are considering hiring to provide in-home care. The questions may include: In this time of Covid-19 (and beyond), what are their protocols for screening workers for possible illness? What training do workers receive, and what qualifications do they possess? Who will they contact in the event of an emergency and in what manner? How will updates on your loved one be provided? You should also ask for references and be sure to call them. You may also consider doing internet research to determine if there have been any complaints made about the care provided and reading client reviews.
Second, set expectations and a way to communicate with each other. You’ll want to be very clear on what tasks need to be performed and details on what the home care aide should expect in working with your loved one. Make a daily schedule and provide a list of favorite activities. You may want to position reminder notes in key areas on any preferences (remove shoes, wear gloves, etc.) You’ll also want to make sure you have a way to reach the caregiver (and vice versa) if needed. Using a single contact for the family who’s most available and responsive can help avoid confusion. In addition to being available, be sure to regularly reach out and check in with the caregiver. Working with an invested and proactive client can increase accountability.
Third, consider putting monitoring measures in place. Most caregivers are professional, reliable, and considerate, but as with any care situation when you’re not there, it’s always best to be sure. Wireless cameras are relatively inexpensive and can give you an extra measure of peace and security. Scheduling a daily Facetime or video conference call with your loved one is also a great way to connect and ask questions about their care. If you can, also try to visit in person while the caregiver is there and observe how they work.
Finally, be alert to any changes in your loved one’s mood or physical condition. These could be signs something is not right.
If you do have concerns or feel your loved one’s in-home medical care worker may not be the right fit, don’t hesitate to reach out to the agency to discuss. If your concerns are serious and your loved one has signs of neglect or injury, reaching out to an attorney with experience in medical malpractice can help you understand your options.