Simplify the interview process and put your mind at ease
by Adinah East

Have you gone into an interview for something and come out of it wishing that you had asked more questions? Perhaps the information that you received sparked some new questions? If you have never needed a home health provider before, it can be hard to know what questions to ask before hiring a home health agency.

In preparing to contract with a home care agency, you may become overwhelmed by the many facets of homecare. Where do you begin? It helps to break your questions down into categories such as costs, payments, type of care needed, scheduling, protection and information about caregivers.

Questions About Costs and Payments from a Homecare Agency

One of the benefits of selecting a home health agency over a private home health aid is an agency has vast experience locating every possible source of funding for senior services. The staff will be happy to share this information with you.

Medicare and the Veterans Administration are two of the largest funders for home health providers, but they do not cover all services. Ask the home health agency which of their services are covered or excluded from Medicare and Veterans Administration funding.

In addition to getting coverage for a senior citizen that needs services from a home health aid, federal funding may also cover services to support the caregiver such as respite care and support groups. Homecare agencies are usually in the know about supplemental programs and services.

You will also want to ask the agency if they will bill your source of insurance and if you will receive copies of the billing statements. It is also a good idea to ask the agency representative if you will need to bill for anything separately on your own.

Questions About Caregivers, Scheduling and Types of Care

Learning about the quality of caregiving is probably weighing heavily on your mind. Ask the agency if they are state licensed and/or accredited by a home health accrediting organization. Do a little research to find out if there are any complaints against the agency. If there are, ask for an explanation.

Ask questions about what you need to do if your home health aid does not show up on time or not at all. Will they send out a substitute worker? How soon can you expect a substitute to arrive? Will the substitute caregiver be trained and able to perform the same kinds of duties as the regular caregiver?

Find out what to do if you have a concern or if an incident at the senior’s residence requires an agency response.

Seniors that need assistance place their trust in their caregivers. Find out if you will have any say in choosing a caregiver. Will you be able to get acquainted before the caregiver starts official duties?

Questions About Protection, Background Checks and Other Administrative Matters

Learn as much as you can about how the agency screens, trains and monitors caregivers. Get some assurance that the agency thoroughly vets and background checks all aides.

Does the agency have minimum standards of training for skilled care that entails nursing duties such as taking blood pressure, taking a pulse, managing medicines, using other medical equipment or helping with mobility issues?

Seniors often need skilled care services and personal caregiving. Ask about the types of services that you need and whether the agency will have one or more aides provide them. Find out how many hours of the day the agency thinks is adequate to provide care.

What will the agency ask of you if you need a live-in caregiver? Do they require that the caregiver have a separate bedroom for sleeping? Will caregivers rotate shifts so that someone is available to provide care around the clock?

Ask how the home health aid will handle other areas of need such as transportation, outings, meals, companionship and housekeeping.

Find out what happens if you need to change or increase services as health worsens. Ask about their procedures and protocols in the event of a serious incident or emergency.

Some Final Words on Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Health Care Agency

Try to set aside your nerves and remember that an interview is a back and forth conversation. Listen to the information the home health provider offers and respond with the questions that are on your list or on your mind.

Before you leave, find out whom to contact if you think of more questions later. Give yourself a day or two to review what you learned and compile a list of follow up questions. Don’t be afraid to schedule a second appointment if you need it so that you have a high level of comfort in hiring a home health agency.

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