If you’re the one looking for a home health aide for a loved one, you already know it’s abundantly clear that there are more than three things to consider, but very broadly, here’s a breakdown:
1 – Before You Look For a Home Health Aide, Assess Your Loved One’s Situation to Determine the Type of Care They Need
First, consider their physical health, and as you identify issues, write them down. You won’t remember them all, but they’re all important, especially when you’re interviewing someone.
- Do they suffer from any chronic diseases?
- Are they incontinent?
- Do they have balance problems?
- Do they limp or have swollen feet or legs?
- Do they have visual problems?
- Do they have hearing problems?
- Do their dentures fit properly?
- Are they in pain?
Your loved one’s mental health is critical to their care plan as well, and the home health aide should be aware and able to deal with the situation. If they’re not, move on.
Are they being treated for depression or anxiety disorder?
- Is there a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s/dementia?
- Mood swings?
- Loss of interest in life?
What medications are they currently taking?
- Are they able to take medications as directed?
- Is forgetfulness a problem?
Daily Living Ability:
Is there a special diet or favorite foods?
- Are they able to dress, bathe, use the toilet?
- Are stairs a problem?
- Can they prepare meals?
- Can they drive safely?
2 – Now That You Know What Your Loved One Needs, Where do You Turn?
You have two options. You can turn to an agency for help, or you can try to identify a home health aide on your own.
If you want someone to focus on the medical aspect of care, you might want to consider going through an agency, but don’t go into it blindly. With your written assessment of your loved one’s needs in hand,
Ask the agency:
Are they accredited and Medicare certified?
- How do they screen their employees?
- Will the same person be in the home every day?
- What if they don’t show up?
- What types of training do the workers have?
- Are there minimum and maximum hours?
- Are there different fees for different types of care?
If you’re hiring someone on your own, be diligent about your screening process:
- Make sure to ask for identification and documentation of their qualifications and training.
- Based on your written assessment of your loved one’s needs, make sure the prospective aids is able to carry out those functions safely.
- Contact your insurance company about coverage.
- Be prepared to handle social security taxes, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation withholdings, or find a payroll company to handle it for you.
- If your loved one will need transportation to doctor’s appointments or shopping, make sure the individual drives.
- Check references!
3 – Now That You’ve Hired Someone, You Still Have Work to Do.
Whether you’ve hired someone from an agency who’s conducted a thorough background check or you found someone on your own that you feel good about, caution is still called for. You’re inviting a stranger into your loved one’s home, and there are private papers, valuables, and sensitive materials that you may want to remove for safe keeping. If your loved one lives with you and the aide has been hired to be there while you’re at work, keep a look out for credit card charges or other unauthorized activities. Trust but verify.
Staying in communication with the home health aide will ensure they’re caring for your loved on as agreed.
Remember that assessment your wrote down? Well, make sure your home health aide has a copy. If you’ve gone through an agency and your worker is a certified nurse assistant or nurses’ aide, they’ll report to a supervising RN and will document changes in your loved one’s condition. It’s you job to make sure you’re in the loop.
Do Your Homework
This information should get you started, but there are many reliable sources to turn to for advice. One is AARP, who can provide additional advice, videos, and links to other helpful resources. If you’re considering hiring someone one your own, look to the IRS Publication Hiring Household Employees for clarification of your responsibilities.