Home Care for the Elderly or Ailing - 7 Tips for Choosing a Qualified Provider

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As the nation's population ages, more Americans are being confronted with the need to seek assistance with in-home care of elderly or sick parents, or extended family. Couple that fact with the ever increasing trend toward same-day, out-patient surgical procedures, and assessing the qualifications of private duty home care for recovering patients of any age takes on an even greater urgency.  It's a difficult task for a lot of people. Because it is not pleasant to think about parents or family members becoming ill or needing medical help, many persons avoid planning in advance for those possibilities. When they suddenly have a need for home care, they don't know where to start in choosing a private duty provider. 

Given the rise in reports of elder abuse and the potential for unknowingly retaining illegal or unqualified workers, there is valid cause for concern. However, there are several key inquiries that can be made to help in selecting a qualified provider.  Be sure to ask the same questions of each prospective service. You can then compare responses "apples-to-apples", and that should help in making the right choice. The seven questions below address some of the most important areas of consideration:

  1. Experience of principals - Who owns the staffing service and what background does the owner or owners have in the healthcare or medical staffing field?
  2. Length of time in business - When was the service established?
  3. Licensing and professional associations or organizations - Is the service licensed in your state, and is it affiliated with any recognized healthcare, private duty or home care staffing organizations?
  4. Screening of employees - How are the service's employees screened for appropriate medical skills and certifications, and what type of background checks are conducted?
  5. Tenure of employees - On average, how long have its private duty workers been employed with the staffing service? Testimonials of private duty clients - Can the service provide testimonials or references attesting to the quality and level of service they have provided to other clients?
  6. Client intake process - How are the needs of the patient assessed and what type of care plan is prepared to record shift activities and make sure there is clear communication with patient and family throughout the term of care?

 These are important questions that any reputable service should be happy to answer - and during stressful times, it's important that you feel as comfortable as possible with the persons who are providing in-home care.

Copyright © Christine Hammerlund – 2008.  Christine Hammerlund is a registered nurse and the owner of Assured Healthcare, a healthcare staffing service headquartered in Gurnee, Illinois.