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    A Guide To Making Home Care Work For You By Lance A. Slatton

    agebuzz is very pleased to welcome Home Care Expert Lance A. Slatton as our newest Guest Blogger! Lance’s expertise offers agebuzz readers a comprehensive opportunity to learn everything important about the provision of home care services for yourself or your loved ones. Today’s initial post addresses home care basics and in subsequent posts, he will dive more deeply into specific aspects of home care and the challenges faced when receiving care in the home. Lance welcomes your questions and interest in specific home care topics. You can learn more about Lance here.


    By Lance A. Slatton

    Home care is a valuable and often necessary option for many older individuals and families. For aging parents recovering from an injury or illness, or managing a chronic condition, home care allows individuals to receive necessary care and support in the comfort of their own homes. However, navigating the world of home care can be overwhelming and confusing. That’s why I’ve put together this information and advice to help you understand what home care is, how it works, and how to make it work for you and your loved ones. These recommendations are intended for either individuals who are themselves care recipients or their loved ones who may be overseeing the caregiving arrangement.


    Understanding Home Care: An Overview:


    In home care, a trained caregiver provides a range of services to help with daily tasks, such as personal hygiene, medication management, meal preparation, and light housekeeping. The caregivers also offer companionship and emotional support, which can greatly enhance the overall well-being of the individual receiving care. It is important to note that non-medical home care and Home Health Care are two separate services and uniquely independent of one another.


    For non-medical home care, the recipients receive care and support for their ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) and do not require an order from a physician to receive them. However, the funding sources of non-medical home care are limited to private pay, long-term care insurance, auto insurance reimbursement (if care is required due to an auto accident), and Aid & Attendance through the Veterans Administration for qualified veterans who have served during a recognized war.


    When speaking of Home Health Care, this is a service that is covered through Medicare and is provided through an order from a physician. This service provides skilled care by a Registered Nurse, Physical and Occupational Therapist, and Social Worker. The services are provided in 9-week increments and can be discontinued prior to the 9 weeks being completed if it is determined that the skilled care being provided has reached its targeted goal of recovery. There are Medicare guidelines as well that must be adhered to if receiving Home Health Care. It should also be mentioned that visits are limited to a one-hour max and the purpose of the visit cannot extend past the intended reason for the visit.


    One of the main advantages of home care is that it allows individuals to remain in familiar surroundings, maintaining their independence to the extent possible, along with their sense of dignity. Additionally, it provides a more personalized approach to caregiving, tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the individual.


    However, it’s important to be aware of the challenges that can arise with home care. Finding the right caregiver, managing schedules, and ensuring the safety and security of the home are all factors that need to be considered.


    Overall, understanding the basics of home care is essential in order to make informed decisions about the best options for yourself or your loved ones.


    The Benefits and Challenges of Home Care:


    Home care offers numerous benefits for individuals and families. First and foremost, it allows individuals to receive the necessary support and assistance they need while remaining in the comfort of their own homes.  


    Furthermore, home care offers emotional support and companionship, which can greatly enhance overall well-being. The presence of a caregiver can alleviate feelings of loneliness and provide much-needed social interaction. Additionally, home care can be a cost-effective alternative to assisted living facilities or nursing homes, as it eliminates the need for expensive facility fees. The general rule of thumb is that if 40 hours or less per week of paid home care is required, then home care is a less expensive option than assisted living. However, it is important to recognize the challenges that can arise with home care. Finding the right caregiver can be a daunting task, as it is essential to find someone who is reliable, trustworthy, and compatible with the individual’s personality and needs. Managing schedules and coordinating care can also be a challenge, particularly for those with complex medical conditions or multiple caregivers involved. If you’re searching for home care as the option for you and you decide to explore hiring someone privately, remember that there are risks associated with hiring someone that way.


    Make sure when exploring the option of hiring an individual privately that you weigh the risks versus the rewards. For example, if you hire someone privately you will want to make sure to have a full background report on them. This can typically be done at your local police department. If you have commitments that leave you with little flexibility, ask the person that you are hiring what their backup plan is for the unexpected time(s) they may need days off or become sick. When hiring home care help through a company, they have contingencies for backups on standby – often the private individual does not. Another point to consider is injury. Oftentimes, privately paid individuals will not have workers compensation coverage for themselves and this could prove costly if they should sustain an injury. One final piece of advice for hiring a private individual is your legal exposure. It is recommended you consult with an attorney about the legalities of hiring a household employee to ensure that you are insulated from any potential legal liability.


    In summary, while home care offers numerous benefits, it is crucial to acknowledge and address the potential challenges. By understanding and preparing for these challenges, individuals and families can make the most of home care services and ensure a positive caregiving experience.


    How to Make the Most of Home Care Services: Tips and Strategies:


    Making the most of home care services is essential for ensuring that you or your loved ones receive the best possible care and support. Here are some key strategies to help you optimize your home care experience.


    1. Communicate openly: Clear and open communication with your caregiver is crucial. Clearly articulate your needs, preferences, and expectations, and encourage your caregiver to do the same. Regularly check in and provide feedback to ensure that the care plan is tailored to your specific needs.


    1. Establish a routine: Creating a consistent schedule can help establish a sense of stability and predictability. Work with your caregiver to develop a routine that accommodates your needs and preferences, whether it’s for personal care, medication management, or other tasks.


    1. Stay engaged: Participate in activities and engage in conversations with your caregiver. Building a relationship and fostering companionship can greatly enhance your overall well-being. Find common interests and make the most of your time together.


    1. Be proactive: Take an active role in managing your care. Keep track of your medications, appointments, and any changes in your health. Advocate for yourself and communicate any concerns or questions you may have to your caregiver or healthcare team.


    1. Seek additional support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. There are various resources available to support you and your caregiver, such as support groups, educational materials, and respite care services.


    By following these strategies, you can maximize the benefits of home care services and create a positive and fulfilling caregiving experience. Remember, home care is all about providing personalized and tailored care in the comfort of your own home.


    Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Home Care Provider:


    Choosing the right home care provider is a crucial decision that can greatly impact the quality of care you or your loved one receives. There are several key factors to consider when making this choice.


    First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the home care provider is licensed and accredited. This guarantees that they meet the necessary standards and regulations for providing quality care. Additionally, you should inquire about the qualifications and training of the actual caregivers. Find out if they have experience and expertise in the specific areas of care that you require. Remember, when interviewing home care companies don’t be shy about asking for proof of licensing, bonding, and insurance.


    Another factor to consider is the range of services offered by the home care provider. Assess your needs and make sure that the provider can accommodate them. This includes not only the personal care tasks but also any additional services such as medication management, transportation, or specialized care for specific conditions.


    Additionally, it’s essential to evaluate the compatibility between the caregiver and the individual receiving care. Consider factors such as personality, communication style, and cultural sensitivity. A good match between caregiver and client can greatly enhance the overall care experience.


    Lastly, consider the cost and payment options offered by the home care provider. Make sure you have a clear understanding of the fees and any additional costs that may arise. It’s also important to inquire about insurance coverage or any financial assistance programs that may be available.

    By carefully considering these key factors, you can make an informed decision and choose a home care provider that meets your specific needs and preferences.


    Financial Implications of Home Care:


    When considering home care, it is important to understand the financial implications involved. While the cost of home care can vary depending on factors such as location and level of care needed, it is generally more affordable than alternative options such as assisted living or nursing homes.


    One way to manage the financial aspect of home care is to explore payment options. Medicare may cover certain home care services if specific criteria are met. Medicaid may also provide coverage for those who qualify based on income and asset limitations. Additionally, some long-term care insurance policies may include coverage for home care.


    It is also important to consider any additional costs associated with home care, such as medication, medical supplies, or modifications to the home to accommodate the individual’s needs. These costs should be factored into the overall financial plan.


    To ensure transparency and avoid unexpected costs, it is recommended to thoroughly review and understand the home care agency’s fee structure. This includes understanding the hourly rates, any additional charges for specific services, and any cancellation or rescheduling fees.


    In conclusion, understanding the financial implications of home care is essential for making informed decisions. By exploring payment options, considering additional costs, and reviewing fee structures, individuals and families can effectively manage the financial aspect of home care while receiving the necessary support and assistance in the comfort of their own homes.


    Lance A. Slatton CSCM is a healthcare professional with over 18 years in the healthcare industry. Lance is a senior case manager at Enriched Life Home Care Services in Livonia, MI. He is also host of the podcast All Home Care Matters, a podcast and YouTube channel. By subscribing to All Home Care Matters, you will gain access to a wealth of information and tips that can help you provide the best possible home care for your loved one. Lance writes a monthly column on McKnight’s Home Care website and he was named a 50 under 50 for 2023Lance can be reached at [email protected].