What to Look for When Choosing Home Care

Helping you choose: Quality home care services

When you need health care services at your home, you should find out some information to help you choose the best home care services for you or your loved one. Staff at your doctor’s office, a social worker, or hospital discharge planner can provide names of some local home care services. Talk with representatives from each one. Home care services include: 

  • Help bathing, shopping, and preparing meals
  • Blood pressure checks
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication delivery

The following questions can help you make an informed decision.

Questions about care and services

  • Does the home care offer all the services that you need?
    • Will a care plan be created? The plan should cover the services needed, how often visits will take place, and how long services will be provided.
  • How often will a nurse or therapist come to your home?
    • Do family members, doctors or other health care professionals help decide what services you need?
  • What are the fees for each service? Ask for a fee schedule and an explanation of the fees.
  • Is the home care agency certified or a Medicare home health? This means that Medicare and Medicaid and most health insurance companies will pay for some of the services.
  • If you are paying for your services, how does the agency bill you? Does it accept credit cards?
  • Where can you get help finding financial assistance if you need it?
    • Is the home care service accredited? Accredited means that the service follows rules for patient safety and quality. Go to Quality Check® at www.qualitycheck.org to find Joint Commission accredited home care services.
  • What happens if there is a power failure or natural disaster?
  • Are services available seven days a week?
  • Is there a time limit for services?
  • Is there a 24-hour telephone number you can call if you have questions or complaints?
    • What are your rights and responsibilities? Can you get a paper copy? Can they be explained to you?
  • Is patient information kept confidential? Is there any reason patient information is released?

Questions about home care workers

Home care workers can be:
    • nurses
    • social workers
    • therapists
    • aides
    • homemakers
    • companions
  • Are the home care workers licensed and bonded?
  • Are home care workers trained to handle special needs, such as dementia or behavior problems?
  • How often does a supervisor come to the home to observe care and review the care plan?
  • Are home care workers trained to handle medical emergencies?

Questions about medical equipment in the home 

  • Will you need medical equipment? This equipment can be bought or leased. Some examples of medical equipment are: 
    • oxygen
    • wheel chair
    • glucometers (for checking blood sugar)
    • hospital bed
  • Will you and your family be taught how to use the medical equipment?    
  • Will the medical equipment be checked?
  • Will the medical equipment be replaced or fixed if there is a problem?
  • Does the home care agency provide supplies such as paper products?

Resources

www.nextstepincare.org : Information for family caregivers and health care professionals
Medicare Home Health Compare: Compare home health care agencies
AARP Caregiving Resource Center
Helping You Choose Quality Home Care Services: Published by The Joint Commission, the largest health care accrediting body in the United States that promotes quality and safety.