Look for home care companies with credentials, experience, and expertise so that your loved one receives the highest quality of care, delivered consistently and reliably. The right agency will become a trusted resource for your family, helping all of you enjoy more peace of mind and a better quality of life overall.
In order to have the best home care experience, you must:
- Understand your home care needs
- Develop a comprehensive home care plan
- Receive ongoing care management support
Understand Your Home Care Needs
The first step in finding the right care is to first understand what home care is and then determine the kind of help your loved one needs and how often they will need it. Generally speaking, home care can be divided into four broad categories:
- Personal care – assistance with bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, transferring, ambulating, and medication reminders
- Housekeeping tasks – vacuuming, dusting, wiping down counters, sweeping, mopping, dishes, taking out trash, laundry, making the bed, etc.
- Meal planning and preparation – including grocery shopping and companionship during meals
- Socialization and companionship – management of the schedule and transportation to and from outings, activities, social engagements, shopping, errands, appointments, meals, cultural events, religious events, etc.
Once you have determined which specific tasks your loved one needs help with, you need to calculate the amount of time needed to complete them. For example, a task like bathing may require 45 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on your loved one’s pace. Then, you’ll need to multiply that time by the activity’s frequency per week. In this example, if your loved one wanted to bathe four times a week, they would need 3-4 hours of caregiving just for bathing alone.
As you make your calculations, remember that home care is not a race to the finish. It makes sense that you want to use your resources wisely; however, it’s important to factor in safety and quality of life concerns, as well. When families focus exclusively on medical and functional needs, they overlook what their elderly loved one wants, which is most often a sense of security and meaningful engagement.
Develop a Comprehensive Home Care Plan
Once you know your home care options, how much you want, and when you want it, the next step is to put this in writing so that any new care provider would have a clear idea of what is expected of them. During the interview process, you could use this document to help give the prospective caregiver an idea of what would be entailed.
A home care plan creates a roadmap and guidelines for the working caregiver specifically giving the caregiver enough information so that she will know exactly who she is working with. It would include a brief description of the client including:
- Likes and Dislikes
- Medical conditions
- What tasks require the assistance of a caregiver? To what degree (total care or just supervisory assistance, or partial assistance)? and How frequently do these tasks need to be completed?
- General instructions
Consider Ongoing Care Management Support
A geriatric care manager provides ongoing care management support. These credentialed professionals provide support in a variety of ways. For instance, in addition to offering ongoing oversight and coaching to your at-home caregivers, a geriatric care manager can:
- Attend medical appointments and communicate results to involved family caregivers
- Organize medications to improve compliance with medication plans
- Develop a leisure schedule to help your loved one mark time in more meaningful ways
- Attend case conferences at senior residences (assisted living, board and care, skilled nursing)
- Visit with your loved one 1 -2x month and communicate back with involved family caregivers regarding any needed changes or ideas for interventions
- Provide assistance at times of transitions (hospital to home, skilled nursing facility to home, home to new living arrangement, etc.)
- Offer decision support for involved family members
- Help mitigate the risk of elder abuse
- Check-in with your loved one as needed or scheduled (which can be especially important for family caregivers who do not live locally)
- Handle all household upkeep tasks in collaboration with family caregivers
In short, a geriatric care manager advocates for their clients’ quality of life and well-being. They offer a professional perspective, ensuring your elderly loved one’s voice is heard and that they are cared for with dignity and respect.