How to Choose a Home Care Agency
Updated: Apr 19
Realizing it may be time to connect with a Home Care service, can be daunting. Once the
decision is made to reach out for support, the question becomes, “How do I identify a Home Care provider that will meet the needs of my loved one or myself?” Let’s face it, we want what is best, not just anyone.
The first thing to know is there are several types of care providers: home health care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, visiting nurses, and home care. Each one provides a different service, depending on the needs of the individual.
Physical Therapy (PT) focuses on helping one to improve physical mobility. Exercises,
stretching and other approaches are utilized to maximize one’s ability to be physically
Occupational Therapy (OT) focuses on improving fine motor skills. For example, a person
recovering from a stroke may need to relearn how to do daily tasks. This could include shaving, brushing one’s teeth, eating with utensils, personal grooming and more.
Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists are frequently assigned to a person when
he/she is in rehab or returning home from a hospital stay. Often, when a professional therapist works with a patient at home, there is a limited time of two weeks to a month before the patient gets discharged from these services.
In addition to PT and OT, a Visiting Nurse can be assigned to come to the home to help set up medications, provide wound care, give medical injections or assist with other skilled nursing duties. The nurse is assigned by the hospital or rehab facility to set up a schedule with the patient and also to evaluate changing needs and progression of health.
There is a difference between Home Care and Home Health Care. Home Care provides
non-medical help, such as light housekeeping, meal preparation and cooking, showering,
companionship, dressing, medication reminders, completing errands, grocery shopping,
transportation to and from doctor appointments/hair salons, religious services, and family
gatherings. Sometimes, individuals will require help being transferred to and from a wheelchair. Additionally, range of motion exercises are monitored as prescribed by the Physical Therapist.
Home Health Care provides skilled nursing services with a limited number of hours for Home Care.
Home Health Care is covered by Medicare or private health insurance, while Home Care is not. Home Care is covered by Long Term Care insurance, however, Home Health Care is not. Many people hire Home Care on a private pay basis.
There are professionals who can help one choose a local service. When needing
recommendations, many find Geriatric Care Managers (also called Aging Life Care
Professionals) helpful in connecting you with the right resources. To locate a Geriatric Care
Manager, one can search online within the geographical area of need.
Another way of finding the right people to hire is to ask a friend or family member who has or is presently working with an agency.
Written by Golden Rule Home Care, Inc., of Massachusetts