Home care typically refers to non-medical services that assist individuals with activities of daily living (ADL’s). Home care is an increasingly popular choice for care because it enables individuals to remain in their own environments.
For example, simple tasks such as housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation, opening a jar, or driving to appointments can become increasingly difficult for many older adults. Personal tasks such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting and even transferring from the bed to a chair can became unmanageable alone. Many types of individuals, including those who are trained and supervised by agencies, provide such services. In general, home care providers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may work by themselves or as a team on a shift, part-time, hourly, live-in, or on an as-needed basis.
While some home care agencies provide health-oriented services, it is important to understand the difference between non-medical home care and home health care. Home health care is more specialized medical care, such as that provided by nurses or physical and respiratory therapists. Care providers are trained medical, health care and psychiatric professionals, or certified nurses’ aides. Home health services are usually ordered by a physician and may be covered by insurance.
What services are available for Seniors living at Home?
- Homemaker Services – Can include help with cooking, light cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and other household chores.
- Personal Care – Assistance with a variety of daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, toilet use, grooming and eating.
- Companionship – From daily telephone calls from a “buddy,” to a daily “friendly” visitor, to round-the-clock paid companions.
- Home Health Care – Skilled care that can include nursing; speech, occupational, physical, or respiratory therapy; home health aides, and social work or psychiatric care.
- Adult Day Care – Daily, facility-based programs in a community center setting for seniors who need monitoring or companionship during the day.
- Activity Groups – Games, trips, shopping outings, and other stimulating group activities.
- Respite Care – A trained volunteer or para-professional stays with your loved one and takes over your caregiving role, whether for several hours or several days. These brief reprieves from a caregiving situation are healthy for the caregiver and also for the care recipient…a change of daily routine for both.
- Live-in Help – Home care best suited to long-distance caregiving or other situations in which the primary caregiver can’t be there in person and the senior needs round-the-clock support. Room, board and, in many cases, a salary, is provided in exchange for meal preparation, light housekeeping, and other non-medical services.
- Hospice Care – Medical, social, and emotional services for the terminally ill and their families.
- Caregiver Support Groups – Support for issues about aging, peer companionship, illness-based support, groups for caregivers, grief support and many others to help people experiencing life challenges with a family member.
You can research and hire home care providers privately or go through a home care agency. To locate agencies or private providers, check with any or all of the following resources:
- Yellow Page listings for Senior Services, Home Care, Home Health Care and similar subject areas
- Area Agency on Aging (Call 1-800-677-1116 for the AAA in your area)
- Local community and senior organizations
- Religious affiliations including churches and synagogues
- Doctor or hospital referrals from your care recipient’s medical affiliations
- Agencies. These agencies may or may not be state licensed, but they select and supervise their own personnel, and are liable for any staff or care problems that arise.
- Registries. These are employment agencies for home health care providers. Typically, you will pay a fee (if not, then the employee will), and you will be responsible for payroll (including tax withholding) and all other employment regulations. You’ll also be responsible for selecting and supervising your provider. The registry will not be liable for any problems such as no-shows, tardiness or quality of care.
- Newspaper ads. In addition to word-of-mouth, this is the way you’re most likely to find independent home care providers. Hiring an independent provider is like hiring any other employee without going through an agency. You will be responsible for payroll, as well as for selecting and supervising your provider.
- The Internet. The World Wide Web allows you to do vast searches for a number of home care services.
- Friends and acquaintances. Referrals from people you know who have used an agency or individual for their relative are one of the best sources of trusted help. Ask around.