Is Home Care Right for You?
Home health care services promote independence to individuals of all ages. Home care can provide a viable, cost-effective health care environment outside of the institutional setting of a hospital or nursing home. Advanced technologies now enable health care professionals to use sophisticated, high-tech medical equipment and procedures in the home to promote healing and/or comfort and pain relief. Home health care services include care provided by skilled professionals as prescribed and directed by the individual's personal physician, as well as supportive services including assistance with walking, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and light housekeeping.
Finding a Home Care Agency
Finding the home health agency best suited for your needs requires research, but it is time well spent. Important factors include the quality of care, availability of needed services, personnel training and expertise, and coverage provided by the payor. Fortunately, most communities have a variety of agencies to choose from. To view a directory of home health agencies that are members of Ohio Council for Home Care & Hospice, please visit the Provider Search, section on this website. You may also contact the Ohio Departments of Health and Aging, to obtain additional lists of agencies.
Questions to Ask
Once you acquire the names of several agencies, you will want to learn more about their programs and services.This insight will help you determine which agency is best for you or your loved one.
Download a comparison chart of questions to help you compare agencies.
The following are some questions to ask home care providers and community leaders:
- How long has the agency been serving the community?
- Is the agency certified by Medicare?
A Medicare-certified home health agency is one that has met federal minimum requirements for patient care and financial management and therefore can provide Medicare and some Medicaid home health services. To help you select an agency, Medicare has provided a database of Medicare-certified home health agencies where you may find comparison information. Keep in mind an agency's decision not to become certified does not imply that it provides poor care. In many cases, these agencies adhere to their own set of standards. It is imperative that you consider all the circumstances surrounding an agency's home care services before making a final decision.
- Is the agency licensed?
Ohio does not require home health agencies to be licensed to operate.
- Is the agency accredited?
Accreditation is a voluntary process conducted by nonprofit professional organizations. It signifies that the agency has met national industry standards. Agencies may be accredited by the Community Health Accreditation Program, The Joint Commission, or Accreditation Commission for Health Care. Most agencies seek accreditation from the organization most applicable to their services.
- Does the agency provide literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources?
An annual report can provide helpful information about the agency. Many providers supply patients with a detailed "Patient's Bill of Rights" that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the providers, patients, and caregivers alike.
- How does the agency select and train its employees?
- Does it protect its workers with written personnel policies, benefits packages, and malpractice insurance?
- Does it run a criminal records check on new and current employees?
- Are the agency's nurses or therapists required to evaluate the patient's home care needs?
- If so, what does this entail? Are the patient's physicians and family members consulted?
- Is the patient's course of treatment documented, detailing the specific tasks to be carried out by each professional caregiver?
- Is a copy of this plan given to the patient and his/her family member and updated as changes occur?
- Does the agency assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes?
- If so, how often do these individuals make visits? Whom can you call with questions or complaints? How are problems followed up and resolved?
- Does the agency take time to educate family members on the type of care that is being provided?
- What are the agency's financial procedures?
- Does it provide written statements that explain all the costs and payment plan options associated with home care?
- What procedures are in place to handle emergencies?
- Are the agency's caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
- How does the provider ensure patient confidentiality?
How Can I Be Satisfied I've Found the Best Agency for Me?
Ask the home health agency to provide you with a list of individuals who are familiar with its reputation. Consult these people as well as physicians, discharge planners, and community leaders to help assess the quality of service the agency provides. Ask each person with who you speak the following:
- Do they frequently refer clients to this agency?
- Do they have a contractual relationship with the provider?
- What sort of feedback have they gotten from patients receiving care from the agency?
- Do they know of any clients the agency has treated whose cases are similar to yours or your loved ones? If so, can they put you in touch with these people?