Making Home Care Affordable ©
By: Clare Absher RN, BSN
Home care is expensive and often deters families from pursuing this desirable care option for a loved one. To make matters worse the bulk of home care services are not eligible for health insurance and Medicare reimbursement. Non-skilled custodial home care is paid for privately by the vast majority of families. Finding ways for families to reduce these out of pocket expenses are crucial to make homecare an affordable option.
Families need to understand that when daily 24 hr caregivers are not needed it's possible that homecare may be less costly then relocating a loved one to a long-term care facility. When an 8 hr in-home caregiver shift or less can accommodate the needs of a love one to remain at home the costs may be even less then that of assisted living and nursing homes. Keep in mind also that home care rates do vary even within same geographical areas so comparison shopping is critical. Contact agencies in your area directly for rates to identify most competitively priced ones. Applying some simple cost cutting strategies can help make home care rather then institutional care a more viable plan of care for an aging parent or relative.
Most families rely on local home care agencies to provide caregivers as opposed to hiring private caregivers. Hiring privately is usually less expensive then hiring caregivers through agencies but does have some serious drawbacks. Home care agencies manage general employer related duties relieving busy families of this responsibility. They have staff available along with backup caregivers eliminating demanding recruitment tasks on families. Staffing solely with private caregivers may leave big gaps in care that cause extra burdens on families. Many homecare agencies are willing to supply caregivers on an as needed backup basis or part-time schedule. Therefore although hiring private caregivers can help reduce costs it is still practical to arrange supplemental care with a local homecare agency.
Home care agencies often have minimum staffing time requirements such as 2 or 4 hr intervals. Research agencies in your area to determine best means of providing coverage for your loved one's care including awareness of any required minimum shifts. For example consider staffing a caregiver from 2 to 4 hrs in the am for personal care, errands and meals followed by an afternoon return visit from 2 to 4 hrs for exercises, walks, and bedtime care. In this manner by staffing a caregiver in two sessions the total time might only be 4 to 8 hrs in contrary to all day long which might exceed 12 hrs. If your loved one can stay safely alone at night then can save caregiver coverage for busier daytime hours. It is critical to find flexible agencies that are willing to accommodate your schedule for care of a loved one. Prioritize the crucial time when care is most needed throughout the day or on specific days of the week to cut down costs of excessive coverage.
Families are often and understandably confused by numerous types of caregivers such as CNAs, Home Heath Aides, Nurses Aides and Practical Nurses. While caregiver titles and duties vary greatly state to state your focus needs to be on hiring the most appropriately trained caregiver. Therefore it may be possible to hire a less costly nurse aide who is not a CNA (certified nurse aide) but well trained to give personal care and prepare meals for your loved one. Likewise hiring a practical nurse (LPN) may be unnecessary when a trained CNA can perform a loved one's rehab hip exercises or post-op dressing changes. Rely on simple common sense when making caregiver arrangements that are tailored to your loved ones needs but at same time not overly qualified with higher rates.
Try to get all possible family members involved at some level with the care of an aging parent or loved one to maximize your resources. While some family members might be willing to stay with mom or dad others that live out of town can manage household bills and order supplies long-distance. Still other members can schedule time off to stay with a loved one in order to relieve full-time family caregivers whenever possible. Piecing home care together with family members, staffing agencies, and private caregivers is often a more cost-effective alternative. Utilize homecare agencies that offer completive rates and are willing to maximize staffing coverage around family availability and best suited to your loved one's needs. Tap in to any local county programs that offer home care assistance by contacting local health departments and social services agencies. Check whether your county offers family caregiver reimbursement programs as well. Using some creative cost cutting strategies to tackle this difficult endeavor will be rewarded by the satisfaction of enabling a loved one to remain safely and well cared for at home.