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How to Choose a Professional Home Care Provider

Perhaps you have realized that you simply can’t continue to provide adequate care to your loved one. Or maybe your loved one lives far away and your responsibilities at home won’t allow you to serve as caregiver. In either case, you may need to turn to a professional home care provider. The question is, how do you choose the right person for this important task?


The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has created a valuable checklist with questions you should ask providers and others who may be familiar with the provider’s history. Here are some of the questions NAHC recommends.


· How long has the provider served the community?

· Does the provider have literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources? Does the provider have what is known as a “Patient Bill of Rights” outlining the responsibilities and rights of the provider, caregiver and patient?

· How does the provider choose and train its caregivers?

· Are therapists or nurses used to evaluate the patient’s needs? If so, do they consult with the patient’s family members and physicians?

· Does the provider include the patient and members of his or her family in developing a care plan? If changes to the level of care are needed over time, are patients and family members involved in making these decisions?

· Is the patient’s course of treatment documented? Does the patient receive a copy of this documentation, and do the caregivers update it as changes occur? Does the provider take the time necessary to educate family members on the care being provided to the patient?

· Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients receive in their homes? If so, how often do these supervisors make visits? Who can the patient and his or her family members contact with questions or complaints? How does the provider follow up on and resolve any problems that might arise?

· What are the provider’s billing procedures? Does it furnish written statements explaining all of the charges? Are payment plans available?

· What procedures does the provider follow in case of an emergency? Are the provider’s caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

· How does the provider ensure patient confidentiality?


Next time we’ll discuss the importance of asking providers for references, and what to ask them.

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