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Questions You Should Ask Home Care Agencies

Friday, June 8 2012 12:00 AM

Home care and home healthcare services are making it possible for people to stay in their homes longer than ever before. But before you select an agency to provide care for yourself or a loved one, I recommend asking several key questions about the agency or agencies that you are considering. Ideally, the answer to all of these questions should be “yes,” and the agency staff member you talk with should volunteer further explanation. If the answer to any of the following questions is something other than “yes,” ask for an explanation. 

  • Does the agency have a proven track record of service within the community?
  • Does the agency offer printed material describing their services and costs?
  • Does the agency provide patients with a “bill of rights” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the agency, patient and caregivers?
  • Is the agency an approved Medicare provider?
  • Is a written plan of care developed collaboratively by the patient, family, agency staff and physician?
  • Does the agency provide written statements explaining all financial procedures and costs associated with home healthcare?
  • Does the agency have standardized procedures it uses when responding to emergencies?
  • Are caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
  • Are the agency’s caregivers supervised, and do they work directly for the agency? Are they subject to background checks?
  • Does the agency ensure patient confidentiality?
  • Is there an agency staff member who can be contacted if you have questions or complaints?

Ask the agency to give you a list of references, such as physicians, discharge planners and other community resources. Ask references the following questions:

  • Do you frequently refer patients to this agency?
  • Are your patients satisfied with this agency’s services?
  • Are you satisfied with the services provided for your patients by this agency?

It may be helpful to take notes when visiting with home care agencies so you can keep track of particular areas of concern or features that you like about each agency. Don’t be afraid to let the agency staff member that you visit with know that you have many questions and that you want make sure you have a thorough understanding of their services.

By Patti Scholten, RN, BSN
Consultant, Home Health and Hospice
Source: www.good-sam.com

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