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What Can You Expect After Choosing a Home Care Agency?

By: Clare Absher RN, BSN

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Initially the agency should schedule an in-home assessment visit to evaluate your loved one's needs at a time convenient for your family to participate. This first visit should be performed by a qualified health professional and most often will be a nurse. During this assessment visit, all aspects of care needed and expected should be clearly expressed by both parties. This first meeting should establish a good rapport and strong foundation for open communication that can later serve to avoid disappointment, frustration, and discontent.

Candid discussions on caregiver preferences may need to be addressed even when difficult at times. Convey to the professional that your mom is more comfortable getting bathed by a middle-aged caregiver or your father requires a male attendant to feel secure and safe when walking. It may be that your timid Hispanic elderly aunt requires a Spanish-speaking caregiver or your grandfather needs a caregiver who can drive him to numerous appointments. Most importantly, emphasize the need for consistent regularly assigned caregivers that your loved one will become familiar and comfortable with.

Scheduling of services should be centered upon your loved one's preferences and not that of the agency personnel within reason. However it should be noted that while an agency will make every effort to avoid lapses in care, that you as family members are ultimately expected to fill any gaps. Furthermore, notification by both parties is expected in the event of cancelled services. Emergency contact numbers should be provided to reach an agency after hours. Respect and reasonable flexibility will likely result in successful accommodation of your loved one's care

A written plan of care that outlines all care to be rendered should be given to you and your family to review and sign during this initial visit. This plan of care should be updated by an agency representative every couple of months or whenever your loved one's health and needs change. Perhaps your dad has begun wandering at night necessitating more caregiver supervision, or your mother has been falling recently requiring additional fall precautions. The plan of care should be addressed to reflect such changes and the caregiver advised accordingly. The care plan should also include a procedure for investigation of any complaints for both your loved one and/or caregiver to follow. However keep in mind that an ongoing open dialogue between you and the agency will facilitate a positive caregiving outcome.