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Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Health Aide

By Jean Cherry RN, MBA 

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Health AideHiring a home health aide for yourself or a loved one is an important task. A good health aide can benefit a person's health, quality of life and comfort. Learn the key questions to ask to find a health aide that's a good fit for your family.

Care Needs

What type of care is needed? How much time is required?
 
To figure out the answers to these questions, make a list of the support you’ll need from the following areas. Make sure to include a time estimate for how long each action will take:
  • Health care. This can include medication adherence, dementia care, wound care, and use of specialized medical equipment, such as a Hoyer lift.
  • Personal care. This entails bathing, washing hair or getting dressed.
  • Household chores, including housecleaning, yard work or laundry.
  • Meal preparation and coordination. This may involve nutrition monitoring, coordinating meal delivery, grocery shopping, preparing meals or participating in meals at a senior center.
  • Socialization activities. These may include playing games with the senior at home or helping them get to church or a senior center.
  • Money management. Handling finances may involve using a geriatric care manager to help with bill payment, hiring a financial counselor or offering help to avoid scammers.
If your doctor recommends specific types of support, make sure to get all suggestions in writing. This can help both you and the health aide understand what care is needed.

Paying for Care

How much will it cost? How will it be paid?
 
You may need to pay for a home health aide out of pocket, or some care could be covered by Medicare, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or other health insurance. Keep in mind that paying for home health aide services out of pocket at home could cost less than moving into an independent living, assisted living or long-term care facility. Specific costs depend on the level of care and amount of time needed. Some agencies may require that home health aides work a minimum of four-hour shifts, or they may charge more for two-hour shifts. Other agencies may charge you a flat fee for the day instead of an hourly rate.
To learn if you qualify for any financial assistance, check out Benefits.gov, BenefitsCheckUp® or www.va.gov.

Finding Qualified Care

Should I find a home health aide on my own or use an agency? Will the home health aide take on housework or socialization responsibilities, or would a housekeeper or companionship service be more cost effective?
 
Hiring a home health aide on your own means you’ll need to manage payroll, tax liabilities and human resource issues, including background checks. To do a background check, you will need the home health aide’s full name, address, phone number, social security number and current photo identification. You’ll also need to learn if the home health aide is up to date on tuberculosis tests and immunizations.
 
If you go through an agency to hire a home health aide, it can do most of the legwork for you. Ask agencies to provide their current company records on personal insurance, bonding, workers’ compensation and references from past clients or employers.
 
Whether you hire privately or through an agency, ask about their home health aides’ certifications, training, preferences and expectations. Are they skilled in dementia care or CPR certified? What is their work experience? Determine if their personality works with the senior’s personality. Ask if they have similar faith values, and if they are okay with pets in the home. What hours or days can they work and what hourly rate is expected? How would they like to receive feedback or suggestions? If you need home health care after a hospital stay, a discharge planner may help you with arrangements.

Local Resources

For more information and help in finding home health aide services, try the following groups. Hiring a good home health aide is an important responsibility. Finding the right person can benefit your loved one’s quality of life, and give you peace of mind that they are receiving quality care.
 
Jean Cherry holds a BSN, WCC, MBA works on technology innovation and is also a writer for Walgreens, where you can find assistive devices for seniors like mobility scooters on the Walgreens website. She has served as a home health nurse and enjoys helping seniors find the assistance they need to live independently at home as long as possible.
 

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