23 Jan 8 Things Families Wish They Had Known Before Starting Home Care Services
“I underestimated the emotional connection I would have with my caregiver,” said Beatrice. “I didn’t realize how hard it would be to find the right fit,” commented Ben.
There are many considerations to consider when it comes to home care. Chief among them are how to find the right provider, and how to pay for it, among others. However, many recipients of care or their loved ones learn other important factors about their home care and caregivers once the caregiving has begun.
This article looks at the lessons learned by the care recipients or their loved ones once they began to receive professional home care services. Below we highlight 8 things that they wish they knew before home care services began.
- Shop around for home care: “When we were preparing to leave the hospital to return home, the discharge nurse asked us who we wanted for our home care needs,” said Beatrice, a Chosen Family patient. “We had only heard of one company, and that’s who we went with. After several months, we realized that their work ethic was not in line with what I needed or expected. I spent some time researching other companies and made some phone calls, and found an agency that fit my needs better.”
All home care organizations are not created equal. It is important for patients and their loved ones to consider what is important to them while ensuring that their values and needs align with those of the agency that they choose.
- Home care is a great resource if your loved ones have special needs: Having to care for your elders can be stressful. Having to care for an elder with additional needs is even more stress inducing. Good home care aides are typically caring people that want to help. You should ALLOW them to help, especially at first.
While every patient is unique, most aides have experience dealing with a broad array of healthcare challenges and comorbidities that your loved ones may face, such as dementia, stroke, cancer, and other challenging health issues whether mental or physical. They will have tips and tricks on the organization of your home and space to be both effective, efficient, and safe for the patient. Don’t be afraid to ask for ideas, help, or recommendations across a broad range of topics. They’ve probably seen it before.
- This is your home: If a home care worker makes you uneasy, doesn’t do their job, or just isn’t a good fit for your family, ask for a replacement. A reputable agency will happily oblige. Maybe your home care worker just needs some constructive criticism. Again, a solid home care agency will appreciate the feedback and work with the caregiver to make things right.
Additionally, don’t feel guilty for asking for a replacement. The home care worker and agency understand that things might now work out with one family, and that their needs may be better suited at another home. Don’t be shy, and don’t be hateful, just be honest. Life is easier when humility and dignity are applied to any situation. In the end, both you and the caregiver will be happier as a result.
- The home care staff are professionals, not your new best friend: While the family or the patient becoming friends with the caregiver seems like the natural thing to do, it is best to keep things professional. Camaraderie and connection are very important in a situation like this, but there is still some expectation setting and “management” of the caregiver by the family or patient. For example, you may need to be direct and upfront about your expectations, but that can be challenging if you and the caregiver are emotionally connected. When this happens, it can be difficult to correct a problem should one arise. Patients have remarked about making these mistakes early on.
Ultimately, what can happen is that as expectations or understandings need to be corrected, the situation became emotional rather than remaining professional. It can be a fine line to manage the dynamics of the caregiver-patient relationship. When in doubt, keep discussions related to things that affect you or your loved one’s care or their routines.
- Make your home inviting and comfortable: By doing so, when you find a great home care worker, they will want to stay. For example, some patients have dedicated comfortable chairs for their caregivers or made space in the fridge to accommodate their care workers. While certainly not required, putting in a bit of extra effort and accommodation for your care workers will go a long way in keeping them satisfied. Finding the right caregiver can be a major challenge for a family. Ultimately, it makes the caregiver-client relationship stronger and more comfortable for both sides.
- Your caregiver is a special part of your family’s life: They sacrifice a lot of time and energy for your loved one. Spending so much time in the client’s home environment and one-on-one with a patient really makes the caregiver a uniquely intimate role. Make them feel welcome when you celebrate holidays or birthdays. No one wants to be away from their family during these times. By doing so, you are acknowledging the special role that the caregiver has and how important they are in their role.
- The desire that services were started earlier: Many clients or their loved ones wish that services had begun earlier. One of the main reasons for this is because of the strain that caregiving takes on the loved ones providing care to the patient. When managing the challenges of their own busy schedules, trying to navigate the needs of providing care to a loved one at the same time often proved nearly impossible, if not highly stressful.
Many loved ones mention that by bringing in professional caregivers, it removed the guilt or resentment on their part because they often felt the burden placed on them by not being available as often as the patient would have liked. Additionally, others mentioned that it lessened stress on the relationship between the loved one providing care and the care recipient. Carol summed it up by saying “When I went to visit my mom, it was nice to be able to spend time with her and not cleaning her kitchen.”
- Preparing for payment or coverage of services: While home care is sought after because of the relative flexibility and cost savings as opposed to other long-term care options, it is still a major expense that patients or their families must cope with. Many families wish they would have adequately prepared for the financial cost. Families should work with the care recipients to determine what assets or savings are available to begin homecare services. While things are straightforward when there are cash savings available, some financial options are much more complicated and take more time to enact such as using one’s home equity.
Additionally, many patients would have started long-term care insurance coverage in advance in order to pay for their care needs. This option takes foresight and planning because when individuals attempt to get coverage when they need it immediately they will find no coverage options or available or that premium costs are too high to make financial sense.
Finally, for low-income individuals that qualify, using the services of the state’s waiver program to cover home care expenses is a great way to cover home care costs. That being said, even those who are eligible must endure a long application process which could stretch on for months. In some cases, we have seen it take as long as nine months to initiate the application process until services are received. By having the foresight to initiate the application earlier, your loved ones can start care without enduring long waits for care to be delivered.
To summarize, there are many challenges and considerations when it comes to initiating the help of a professional home care service provider. By considering some of the lessons learned by the care recipients or their loved ones after starting services, you can make the transition to home care smoother and less stressful for all parties involved. By partnering with the right home care agency, such as Chosen Family Home Care, you can lessen the challenges that come with adding home care services while providing excellent support and satisfaction for you or your loved ones.