There's No Place Like Home


Dorothy was right.

We enjoy "getting away from it all," but there is no bed like our own.  The safety and comfort available (or should be available) at home are like no other.  Unfortunately, the Advent of COVID brought the sting of living under someone else's rules up close and personal.  Hospitals and other care facilities were forced to impose restrictions to keep us all as COVID-free as was possible.  These restrictions separated families, causing painful isolation for inpatients, residents, and loved ones.

Care at Home

If you are a recipient of home care or have been in the past, you know it perhaps as "Visiting Nurses."  Back in the day, the District Nurses of Gloucester, housed on Angle Street, rode their bicycles to see patients à la The Midwives of PBS fame.  I've heard tales that they would take their bikes onto the B & M train, get off in Manchester, and ride house to house.  The practice of care at home has become sophisticated and technical yet remains personal.

Across the country, we're seeing the creation and implementation of pilot programs akin to the "hospital at home" model.  Efforts to bring care into the home, even sometimes high-tech care, is thought to have outcomes that favor the development of this model.  As a result, home care is in demand like never before.

In this era of the "Great Resignation," many health care professionals are exiting stage left.  Maybe due to burnout, or perhaps for fear of their health and anxiety about exposure.  As a result, most home care agencies struggle to meet the demand.  Even with minimal attrition, my company Aberdeen Home Care is working hard to meet our demand, having instituted a waiting list for care, as have most other home care agencies.

How will I pay for care at home?

Medicare, or your medical insurance, usually covers most of the cost of "skilled home care." Skilled home care means that you require the services of a registered professional, like nursing or physical therapy.  Many other therapies are available through Certified Home Care Agencies (those that bill Medicare, etc.).  If your need is managing an illness, recovering from surgery or injury, rehabilitation, or end-of-life care, insurance may cover most of your cost.

What if I need more care?

Medicare does not pay for custodial care (generally ongoing and longer-term care).  Therefore, if your care needs are increasing, you may need to supplement with help from family and friends.  You may even need to hire other home care providers in some cases.  Now more than ever, there are many creative ways to get care into the home.

Where will you get your care?  Who will you hire?  Will you utilize the neighborhood contacts to find out "who does this type of thing?"  Will you explore caregivers who advertise on sites where you hire them directly?  How will you know what a competitive rate is and what you are getting for your money?

Create a list of needs.  Consider medications, the risk for falls and injuries, interventions to minimize those risks, and overall plan.  Perhaps the need now is mostly companionship.  Generally, chronic conditions worsen and have their impact, as most things do.  Even if you are not quite there yet, but can see the need on the horizon, consider a plan.

Many caring, compassionate, and skilled caregivers work independently.  But, sadly, as in every profession, some would exploit and have agendas beyond simply providing excellent care.  Aberdeen has an extensive background screening and onboarding process and ongoing caregiver supervision.  If you become your own hiring/supervising department, you must know the questions to ask and verify the skill sets your applicant claims to have.

Proceed with caution and eyes open.

Your due diligence is crucial. Remember these key points:

  • Check and double-check references
  • Conduct thorough background checks
  • Ask about caregivers' Liability and Workers' Compensation coverage
  • Observe the caregiver in-action to assess skills

A lot goes into a successful home care experience.  The right providers will have the skillset, experience, and style of care you are looking for, the safest environment for the patient, and the ability of the caregivers to move through the phases of need that your loved one will have.  Whether you are hiring a professional agency or developing your own team, it's essential to have eyes wide open and know the needs of your loved one and the providers' skills so you can make the best match.

There's no place like home, especially with the right choice of caregivers.

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