Finding the right home care company for yourself or a loved one can be confusing at first. Where can you turn? Which type of company is right for your aging parent/spouse, etc.? Where do you start? Well, you start at the beginning — with research.
First off, you’ll have to identify your home care needs and determine the level of care you will require. In order to do this successfully, you’ll need to understand the two basic levels of in-home services: home health care and non-medical home care. There is a difference, although there may be some overlap in services between the two.
The Difference Between Home Care and Home Health Care
The terms home care and home health care have become interchangeable but in truth, there are distinct and important differences between the two.
In general, home care refers to any services that keep an individual safe and comfortable in their home without the need for specific healthcare treatments.
These types of services often provide peace of mind for children, grandchildren or any other loved one who can’t be there 24/7 to provide care themselves. Non–medical home care services are there to help a senior age in place but are not covered by insurance unless advised by a doctor under specific and temporary circumstances.
In contrast, home health care refers to home care involving more skilled, medical assistance to help an individual either with a specific medical condition or who is undergoing post-surgical or outpatient recovery. These services would help any individual that requires assistance from a licensed medical care provider.
There may be overlaps in services between the two, such as in the case of a home health care company also providing basic homemaker services if you decide to include household assistance in your specific plan. However, home care services cannot provide medical services, so some of the overlaps only go one way.
Considerations When Choosing the Right Home Care Company
As we said above, settling on the right home care company starts with research, so be prepared to do your homework. Once you have determined that you or your loved one needs home care over home health care, you can now move forward in your search. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind:
1. Cost Information
How much a provider charges: this is often the first concern a family faces, and rightfully so. In order to get an accurate quote on pricing, you need to be prepared to discuss many factors with the provider, as asking about a range of hourly rates is only the tip of the iceberg. Yes, your budget is driving your search, but you will only have a better idea of your true costs once you can work with the provider to devise a detailed care plan.
Aging Care suggests inquiring about the company’s policies regarding payment and billing:
- Inquire about hourly rates and how those rates will vary depending on services needed as well as caregiver training.
- Ask how frequently the company bills.
- Determine whether they accept credit cards or if they need a deposit before providing services.
- Ask if they accept long-term care insurance. Do they bill the insurance company directly or do you have to pay up front and then get reimbursed?
2. Time Minimums
Different levels of care will require varying amounts and types of service, typically measured in hours. Many home care companies will set a minimum hourly requirement for visits—usually between two to four hours. So, if you require approximately an hour of services to be transported to and from a doctor’s appointment, you will have to adhere to the minimum hourly requirement.
- Work with the provider to determine how many hours of service you need realistically.
- Inquire about hourly minimums for each visit.
- Ask about the process for adjusting care hours due to changing needs.
- Learn if adjusting the number of hours requires a change in caregiver.
3. Types of Home Care Companies
The size, makeup, ownership and business models of home care companies vary quite a bit. They generally operate with one of two models: franchise or independent ownership, each with its pros and cons.
Franchised agencies often have more widely recognized reputations because they have more established marketing plans, while independent operators can establish their own policies and procedures, training processes and pricing structures. In any case, it’s a good idea to dig into the history and experience of the company regardless of its structure.
Find out how long the company has been operating in your community. Who owns the company? How long has the current owner been there?
4. Licensing and Insurance
To ensure the safety and protection of yourself or your loved one, make sure the home care company you consider is licensed, bonded and insured in Texas. If you can’t find this information or if the company is giving you a hard time about providing it, look elsewhere.
5. Ask for a Patient Bill of Rights
The National Association for Home Care and Hospice advises asking the provider to supply a brochure or booklet explaining its services, fees, eligibility requirements, and funding sources, also known as a “Patient Bill of Rights.” This document will outline the rights and responsibilities of the providers, patients, and caregivers involved.
6. Ask Plenty of Questions!
Here are just a few, but feel free to make your own list before calling potential home care companies:
- How does this provider choose and train employees?
- Can you provide me with written personnel policies, malpractice insurance information and benefits packages?
- Can you provide a breakdown of all personal assistance and household services you offer?
- Can I get a list of references, such as doctors, patients or their family members? What about community leaders who are familiar with your company’s quality of service?
Contact Divine Living Assistance
Divine Living Assistance provides a variety of personal assistance and household services throughout Texas. To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, contact us today.