If you’re older or less-abled, but love living independently, getting some kind of home help becomes essential at some point. It means you can look after your health, as well as your home. But finding the right kind of home help is easier said than done. Here’s a quick guide that will simplify the process of choosing a home care provider.
Living independently at home for as long as possible is not just something that’s nice to do; it also provides recognised health benefits. Arranging in-home care can help you to continue living safely in your home for longer. But finding the right level of care from an organisation you can trust takes some research.
Too often, the selection of a care provider is left until the need is urgent and people simply settle for whoever can start tomorrow. If you’re keen to stay in your home, but realise you will eventually need a little help, it makes sense to plan ahead to find the right care provider. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Thinking about your home care needs
Home care organisations provide different services. Some may only offer cleaning, housework and cooking. Others may include help with showering, dressing, personal care and taking prescribed medications. Those that include appropriately-trained caregivers can also offer help with daily injections, monitoring your health and providing mobility treatments, such as physiotherapy or therapeutic massage.
So before you start researching care providers, it pays to plan ahead for the types of care you may need in the short and long term. Talk to your doctor and family to get their input, and keep an open mind about what they have to say. People who know you well can often spot changes in your well-being that you’re either optimistically ignoring or have gradually become accustomed to.
While you may not like the idea of a ‘stranger’ being in your home, let alone helping you with things like showering and dressing, finding someone you can trust early on lets you build a good relationship, so they won’t feel like a stranger for long.
Researching home care organisations
Once you have a list of the types of care you might need in the future, you can start looking for the best in-home care providers based on your needs. A search on the internet is a great place to start. You might use phrases like home care, help at home, personal care, nursing care, dementia care, disability caregiver, shopping assistance or transport for older people. Adding the name of your city or region, or the words ‘near me’, will help locate home care organisations in your area.
The first result may not be the best home care provider for you, so be patient. Collect names and details of the options that look promising and dig deeper for more detailed insights. Here are some things to look for:
- Industry awards
- Independent customer reviews
- Membership of organisations, such as the Home and Community Health Association
- Do they employ suitably qualified people?
- Do they screen employees carefully with things like police checks and drug tests?
- How are the caregivers monitored and supervised?
- Do they receive regular ongoing training?
- Will you get an individual help plan to approve beforehand?
- Does their care include making the most of the skills you have and restoring others to help you build independence where possible?
- How easy is it to arrange or change services?
- Will you get the same or different caregiver every visit?
Asking other people about in-home care services
The good, or not so good, experiences and opinions of others are a powerful source of information. You don’t have to give too much away if you don’t want to. You can always just say you’re planning ahead. All kinds of people you know will have needed home care at some stage or helped to arrange it for someone else. Neighbours, friends, colleagues and wider family members are all people you can ask.
Don’t forget to check with your doctor and ask your friends to do the same with their doctor. Ask the doctor or nurse if they recommend any home care providers, and see if they have an opinion on the providers you’re considering.
Organisations for older adults or people with disabilities can be another useful source of local knowledge and experience. If you have a particular medical condition, there may be a support organisation that can provide recommendations.
Visiting your top home care organisations
Once you’ve chosen three or four top home care organisations for your needs, it’s time to arrange an appointment to interview them in person. Have a loved one or trusted support person with you, so you can compare notes afterwards. It helps to have a prepared list of questions you want to ask. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Questions to ask home care organisations:
- Do you hire caregivers with little or no experience?
- What background checks do you perform on your caregivers and how often?
- How do you monitor each caregiver’s competency and performance?
- How often do your caregivers receive refresher or targeted training?
- How do you ensure a good fit between a caregiver and the person they’re looking after?
- Do you focus on restorative home care to help improve my capabilities and independence?
- Will I have the same caregiver every time or different people in my home?
- What happens if my caregiver can’t make it or is running late?
- Who oversees my caregiver?
- Do you provide [insert the services you require]?
- What happens if my care needs change?
- What levels of care can you provide if needed?
- What are your charges, is there a minimum time charged per visit, do you charge more on weekends, do I still pay if I’m away on holiday or in hospital, and can I cancel at any time without penalty?
- Do you have any clients I could talk to for references?
Taking time to choose the best home care agency
Choosing the right home care agency for you is a major decision. Take your time, involve people you trust, ask questions and seek more information until all your questions and concerns are addressed. Make sure you choose someone who can provide the level of care and trust you deserve.