When you need a helping hand - Company Message
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How to Choose a Home Health Care Agency
An interview with Karen Beauchesne, VP for VNA of Care New England, for the VNA's Ask the Experts Campaign.
Every family caregiver needs a break and they can only have a true break if they are confident their loved one is in good hands. Hear Teepa explain what you might ask a home car agency about their skills in dementia. If you care for a person with a dementia such as Alzheimer's, see this video for the basics on determining if an agency has staff that simply tries their best, or more importantly, if they have real training on how to properly meet the challenges of caring for a person with dementia
What Is a Home Health Agency?
Home health agencies are medical providers that have registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and in some cases, physicians whom come out to a patient's home to provide medical care. Home health care is ideal for patients who recently have had surgery, are terminally ill, non-ambulatory, in wound care and may have difficulty getting to a medical office or hospital. In an ideal setting, this team works alongside the patient's existing doctors as well as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, assisted living and more to ensure that proper care and continuity with patients is upheld.
How Do Home Health Agencies Work?
Home Health agencies are structured to make it easy for the patient. If the patient
was hospitalized, the hospital will provide her/him a list of local agencies that the patient can call to set up an appointment to have a clinician come to her home for the first evaluation, usually within a few days if not sooner.
The home health agency will also verify insurance, find out any insurance restrictions and relay the information to the patient. Upon the initial visit, the home health agent will conduct an assessment (vitals, medical history, wound evaluation, etc.) of the patient's condition. In some cases, the clinician will conduct whatever treatment the patient requires.
At the end of that first visit, the clinician will provide the patient with dates he will return to continue care. The number of visits allowed are dependent upon the patient's insurance.
What Do Home Health Agencies Do?
Home health agencies are organizations that handle all aspects of providing home health care to patients. They assign patients, handle customer service and deal directly with patients.
They hire as well as contract nurses and sometimes doctors to go to patients' homes to do treatment. This traveling team of nurses is briefed on each patient. Most services are covered by the patient's insurance. Oxygen, respiratory equipment and wound care bandages are typically included.
Non-Medical Senior Home Care
In addition to medical home health care, non-medical senior home care is available.  
Non-medical senior care companies focus on companionship, but also assist with daily needs, such as meal preparation, running errands, medication reminders, light housecleaning, incidental transportation to doctor visits and other non-medical tasks.
When all of these daily tasks are being done by a professional, non-medical caregiver, it allows family members, such as grown children or spouses, to spend quality time with the senior, versus the quantity time of just spending hours doing the grocery shopping and cleaning, but not really being a companion to their elderly loved one.
Non-medical senior care can also keep a senior in his/her own home longer, since it actually makes them more independent in their own natural surroundings. It can prevent the senior from having to move to senior housing earlier than necessary, since their daily needs are being met.
Many seniors may need care, but they still enjoy the freedom of picking their own activities and doing them in their own homes on their own schedules.
Even in situations where medical/home health professionals are being employed, the family can supplement the caregiving with non-medical caregivers who can truly become the senior's companion.
Non-medical senior care also benefits family members who live a great distance from the senior. Regardless of the distance apart, you as a caregiver can have peace of mind that your senior relative is being cared for with proper meals and someone to talk to on a regular basis, even if you can't be there to do it.
A good, non-medical senior care company will also communicate the senior's status or issues to the relatives regularly via phone, providing updates on their social, physical and emotional well-being.