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Mistakes to Avoid and Questions to Ask when Researching Home Care

Home Care questions halton regionWith over 20 years of experience in providing home care to seniors, Retire-At-Home has designed a list of important questions you should ask when researching a home care provider:

1. What services can you provide to my loved one?
2. Is there a wait list or is there a time lag between when I hire your company and when service can start? 3. Do you have a minimum charge or a minimum number of hours that I must take
3. Can your services be covered under my insurance policy?
4. How do you hire, train and evaluate your caregivers? What education and experience do they have?
5. Do you have proper insurance for accidents, injuries and medication errors?
6. Who manages the client services and are they are nurse?
7. Can I expect consistency in the caregivers I receive?
8. Do you provide service on short notice? Is there an extra charge?
9. Can you provide your services on holidays or after normal business hours?
10. Do you have someone I can call for an emergency, even after-hours?

5 Mistakes you should avoid in choosing home care:

Most people don’t think about the need for home care until an emergency situation arises or until they suddenly see the need for help with their loved ones. The majority of the calls we receive at Retire-At-Home come from a family member in a moment of crisis where stress levels are high. This is often the worst time to make a truly informed decision and gather the information needed. 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 provider.

Mistake #1: Most Canadians believe that the government will be there to provide all the services they need, after all we have “universal healthcare”. The reality is that there are very little subsidies for home care, and in Ontario, our average client receives under 5 hours a week of subsidized care – not much at all. If you do call the government for some help (Call the Community Care Access Centres), don’t assume that you or your loved one will receive everything you need. Shop around to find out what subsidies are available and if you need more help than what the government provides, work with a home care agency that will customize around your subsidized hours.

Mistake #2: The biggest issue we see with elderly loved ones is the resistance to accept help. Just because your loved one needs care, doesn’t mean they’ll accept it. If they refuse, don’t make the mistake of giving in to them as their health and well-being could be at risk (i.e. a fall may occur). Fortunately, this common problem can be overcome so ask each home care provider what they will do to ease the transition for your loved one, and how they will manage their resistance to help.

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. There are no regulations in the home care industry and absolutely anyone can provide home care services, with no credentials at all! Make sure the company you hire has health care professionals at the helm. The company should offer nurse supervision and the direction of experienced caregivers. Your loved one’s medical needs will likely increase over time, and it is important to have the right people providing their care.

Mistake #4: Hiring private caregivers. Private caregivers can be found online through Kijiji or Craiglist, but lets be clear, you’re not buying a piece of equipment or a knick knack – you’re looking for health care for your loved one. Private caregivers are often much less expensive, because they do not pay for things like liability insurance, or worker’s compensation fees. They are likely not as experienced, or trained, and they certainly don’t have supervisors overseeing their level of care. Thousands of documented cases of abuse and theft have been widely shown. 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 price. Remember: Price is only important in the absence of value. There are many things to consider such as proof that high standards are met, or making sure the agency is customer-service oriented and supervised by registered nurses. Ever wonder why a service costs less than others? Its likely because less money has gone into building good systems with quality consistent people. 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. Know all your options before simply choosing the cheapest service.

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