Jeff spoke with Anne Browning of Homewatch CareGivers about the different levels of care assistance available to those who need assistance in the home.

There is a lot of confusion between the two types of care at home: home health and home care. Very often they are used interchangeably, although there is a definite difference between the two.

Home health provides support in the home that is considered medically necessary. It is referred to as skilled need and includes such care as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. It is generally covered by Medicare and/or Medicaid. A patient is given a certain number of visits to determine and treat the medical issue.

Home care is not medically necessary or covered by insurance, except for long-term-care insurance, and is primarily private pay. The amount of care is determined by the client. A caregiver can be used just one time for a couple of hours, for round-the-clock care, or for anywhere in between. The care can include help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, companionship, transportation, grooming, and toileting.

What are things that people should look for when considering home health or home care?

You need to be selective since the worker is going to be coming into your home to care for your loved one. Call three agencies, because one of the three is going to stand out. In the initial phone call you want to be looking for a lot of conversation and a lot of questions from them. The caregiver should want to know what is going on with you or your family, what level of care is already in the home, what kind of family support is present, and how they can supplement that care.

It is also recommended that you to find out the following…

  • Who will be coming to your home to do an assessment — a scheduler or a nurse? A nurse will come up with a care plan and do all the follow-up and quality assurance visits.
  • How much training do the caregivers receive and in what areas? Is the skill-level care continuous? Does the agency have training on social skills and cultural sensitivity?  Are screening and background checks done for drugs, criminal activity and driving records?
  • Are references checked?
  • What is their on-call policy? Does someone from the agency pick up the phone in the middle of the night?
  • Who pays the state and federal taxes?
  • Is workers comp provided?
  • Are the caregivers FULLY licensed by the state or are they contractors?
  • Are they insured?

It is especially important to inquire about the agency’s tax and insurance policies, because if something goes astray, the financial responsibility may become yours.  

What are some of the red flags when hiring a caregiver? 

  • The agency is not licensed.
  • They don’t have a good pool of caregivers. If someone ends up not a good match you want an agency with a deep bull pen.
  • They are not communicative during the hiring process.

Sometimes people will overlook these red flags because there is an emergency need, but it is important to do your due diligence. Also, check out websites that do reviews like Angie’s List, the Better Business Bureau and Yelp to see how they have been reviewed.

If you have any additional questions about care assistance, please contact Homewatch CareGivers at (919) 960-6038 or visit the website: Homewatchcaregivers.com.