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Feeling At Home With Home Care:
Choosing The Right Provider

Home care is a viable and often preferred alternative to long-term hospitalization or other institutionalized care. Home care may be recommended for patients with long-term health conditions, acute illness, permanent disability or terminal illness. In these cases, there are often a number of services available. The services of nurses, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, dietitians, home health aides, homemakers, chore workers and companions are all usually available though the home care provider.

Your loved one's physician will help you decide what services she needs, but choosing the right home care provider takes some time and research.

The first step is to discuss the care recipient's home care needs with his physician, hospital discharge planner or case manager. Also, ask for a list of local, licensed home care agencies. If a list is not available, request one from the state's department of aging, health or social services.

The following should also be considered when choosing a home care agency:

Does the agency provide the services your loved one needs?

Does the agency provide continuity of care? Will the same professional Caregiver or team be involved for the duration of the care plan?

Are the care recipients and family Caregivers included when the agency develops or changes the care plan?

When is the agency accessible? Is someone available to assist you and your loved one to answer questions after hours or in an emergency?

Does the provider have a good reputation and positive track record? Ask for a list of references from local physicians, health care professionals, discharge planners, and former clients.

How long has the agency been in business, serving your community?

Is the agency licensed (required in many states) and accredited by a healthcare accreditation organization, such as the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)?

Does the agency accept Medicare, Medicaid, or other public third party payors? Because each state has its own eligibility requirements, the home health agency may not accept patients covered by Medicaid.

Is the agency Medicare certified? Only Medicare certified agencies can provide services covered by Medicare. It is also beneficial to determine if the agency will continue services if Medicare or other reimbursement sources are exhausted.

The agency you choose should be an extension of the physician's original plan of care for the patient. It is essential that the agency and Caregivers work well with the care recipient, her family and physician. The common goal for everyone involved in the patient's home care services should be a successful recovery.


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