Mistakes to Avoid & Questions to Ask
Its time to get serious about finding the right home care provider for your loved one.
Retire-At-Home in Red Deer and Central Alberta is owned and operated by Registered Nurses. With years of experience in dealing with seniors in our community, we understand the challenges you are facing with your elderly loved one.
With that in mind, we have put together a list of important questions you should ask when researching home care providers:
- What services does your company offer and how can they help my loved one?
- Does your company provide nursing assessments before the start of service to ensure my loved one’s medical needs are being met?
- How quickly can you start service once I hire your company?
- Is there a minimum charge or a minimum number of hours I must take? Are there any long-term contracts?
- How do you hire, train and evaluate your caregivers? What education and experience do they have? How often do you do criminal record checks?
- How do you evaluate your caregivers? How do I know if they have arrived at my loved one’s house?
- Do you have proper insurance for accidents, injuries and medication errors?
- Who manages the client services and are they are nurse? How often are the managers available?
- Can I expect consistency in the caregivers I receive?
- Do you provide service on short notice if I suddenly need extra care? Is there an extra charge?
- Can you provide your services on holidays or after normal business hours?
- Do you have someone I can call for an emergency, even after-hours?
5 Mistakes you should avoid in choosing a home care provider:
The vast majority of people have never thought of needing private home care services until a crisis moment happens. Perhaps your loved one has had an accident, or recently diagnosed with an illness and now suddenly you feel overwhelmed with the questions you need answered and where to turn for solutions.
Most of the calls we receive at Retire-At-Home in Red Deer and Central Alberta are from family member dealing with a crisis emotions and stress levels are high. This is usually a terrible time to make a confident decision and you should take time to think about what it is your loved one truly needs and what it is you’re looking for in a provider. If you are in this moment of crisis, or whether you are planning for the future, please note some of the common mistakes people often make when choosing a home care agency.
Mistake #1: Most Canadians think that our health care system covers all home care expenses… after all we have “universal healthcare”. Unfortunately home care subsidies are very minimal, and in Alberta, our average client receives less than 5 hours a week of subsidized care – this is rarely enough to cover all their medical and personal needs. If you do go through the subsidized programs, don’t assume you’ll receive everything you need. Once you have your subsidized care in place and you realize you need more help, work with a home care agency that will customize around your subsidized hours.
Mistake #2: Giving up on helping your parents if they refuse to accept any help. One of the most common issues we hear from family members is that their loved one refuses to accept any help in their home, even when they are clearly at risk. There is usually guilt associated with pressuring them into accepting something they don’t want. Don’t make the mistake of giving in to them because their health and safety could be at risk (i.e. a fall may occur). Fortunately, this common problem and you are not alone. This can be overcome and the home care provider you speak with should have some solutions and be able to work on some strategies with you to overcome this resistance.
Mistake #3: Many assume that all home care companies are owned or managed by healthcare professionals such as nurses or social workers. This simply isn’t true. The Home Care industry is completely unregulated and anyone can start a home care service with no credentials at all! Make sure the home care provider you choose has health care professionals managing the cases, or part of the ownership team. Home care is more than companionship and housekeeping and nurse supervision should be part of the service ensuring your loved one’s needs are truly being met.
Mistake #4: Hiring caregivers on a private basis. Private caregivers can be found online on websites such as Kijiji or Craiglist. This can be a cheaper options, but remember, you get what you pay for and when it comes to health care for your loved one you have to be very careful. Private caregivers are less expensive because they do not pay for things like liability insurance, or worker’s compensation. They are typically not as experienced, often have a bad reputation among home care agencies (i.e. can’t get a job), and they certainly don’t have supervisors overseeing the care they provide. There are thousands of stories of abuse and theft and hiring a stranger from the internet could expose you to these situations. Hiring a private caregiver, without proper credentials or background checks, can be dangerous. Without insurance, ongoing training, and supervision, you are taking a gamble with your loved one’s care.
Mistake #5: Many people base their final decision on the price of a service. Ever heard the saying that “price is only important in the absence of value”? There are a lot of factors to think about such as proof of high standards (credentials, length of service), or that the services are supervised by nurses and health care professionals. If one service costs less than another, it is likely because less money has gone into building good systems with trustworthy and consistent people. If a company charges less money, they likely pay their caregivers less money, hence attracting a lower quality worker, or dealing with higher turnover. The right home care provider will meet with you face-to-face and sit down with you to develop a plan that meets your medical needs, personal preferences and budget. They should be able to show a history of consistent staff and be confident in their ability to provide care at all levels. Know all your options before simply choosing the cheapest service.