Concerns for your senior loved one underscore a harsh reality — aging makes people more vulnerable. Seniors are at risk of many ailments: dementia, Alzheimer's and mobility issues. Ensuring Mom or Dad is safe and healthy may seem increasingly challenging as you consider introducing a caregiver into the home.
You’ve probably seen it in the news. Dishonest caregivers can infiltrate your parent’s home and quietly wreak havoc. From larceny to assault, there are numerous examples of misbehavior that can ruin trust in professional home care services.
A reputable home care provider offers the quality of care you’d expect for your loved one, and having that confidence is critical. Inviting another person into your parent's home can seem like taking a massive leap of faith, and because there are examples of caregivers abusing this trust, it can rightfully make you or your parent hesitant to take advantage of an incredible service.
The question remains: How can you tell good home care from bad home care? Learn how to select quality care and prevent a horror story.
High Risk, Low-Screened Home Care
It’s a real challenge to find the right home care provider and it takes some diligence to avoid the dangers. Small, independent and low-priced home care often comes with limited expertise. Hiring an ill-prepared, low-spirited, poorly-trained caregiver will put your elderly loved one at risk.
For example, an illiterate, paid caregiver got confused between pill bottles and gave the wrong medication to a 103-year-old patient, according to Dr. Lee Lindquist, a geriatrician at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“People have a false sense of security when they hire a caregiver from an agency,” said Lindquist.
Lindquist’s words reflect the results of her published research study, Hiring and Screening Practices of Agencies Supplying Paid Caregivers to Older Adults. In a study of 462 home care agencies, only half of the operators conducted criminal background checks (55.8 percent). In addition, only about one-third (31.8 percent), conducted drug tests on potential caregivers.
Per the research, many of the 462 caregiving agencies provide limited training ranging from zero to seven days. The skills competency of a caregiver was assessed using feedback from self-reports (58.5 percent), testing (35.2 percent) and client feedback (35.2 percent). Clearly, home care agencies do not always use objectivity to determine the qualification of a potential hire.
Furthermore, poor home care agencies had little to no managerial involvement to maintain quality control. Bad home care lacks a system to ensure consistent, proper care for elderly clients. "Supervision ranged from none to weekly and included home visits, telephone calls and caregivers visiting the central office," per the study.
Abuse, reckless misbehavior and a poor attitude from a caregiver are serious issues. Your elderly loved one deserves to feel safe with a professional caregiver. Take the time to assess the home care operator before committing.
Superior Home Care Pays Attention
When selecting a provider, it's safer to trust a large, national brand with an excellent reputation for superior home care. The operator will allow multiple interviews during the selection process. Before making the decision, your loved one and the family will determine if there is good chemistry between the caregiver and care recipient.
A superior home care provider requires workers to complete a background check and drug test. He or she should be certified in CPR. Moreover, the professional caregiver possesses emotional intelligence, empathy and good character to successfully interact with your elderly loved one.
High-performing home care providers receive regular, randomized visits from the supervisor. For example, Brooke Christensen supervises a franchise on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She routinely goes on random visits to her elderly clients.
“The supervisors will pop in on the caregivers to make sure everyone is performing on high standards,” said Christensen about her home visits. “Letting them know you still care. It’s just an extra level.”
In addition to monitoring the professional caregiver, Christensen enjoys entertaining the elderly. She enjoys her job because it provides opportunities for “intergenerational” exchanges between seniors and herself. “I bring the Ukulele. I do a supervisory visit and play a few songs on the visit.”
Moreover, the home care companion provides social stimulation along with assistance with daily private tasks: grooming, dressing, bathing, grocery runs, blood pressure checks and medication reminders.
High Stakes Demand a Higher Quality of Care
If your elderly loved one was recently discharged from the hospital, it’s important to deploy care that will help him or her recover and not go back. A quality, professional caregiver can dramatically reduce a costly hospital readmission. Specifically, the first month after a hospital discharge is critical. It’s time to focus on stabilization. “Elderly adults have a much lower chance of recovery if they are re-hospitalized in this 30-day window, which is why reducing hospital readmissions is so important.”
A quality caregiver monitors the health of your senior. Should something go wrong, this person can make an emergency call. You will also be promptly notified. The vigilance of quality home care means precious, life-saving moments won’t be wasted.
Personalized Home Care Matters
An established home care with multiple locations also signals a high level of experience caring for seniors with varying health conditions. Should your elderly loved one suffer from cognitive decline like dementia or Alzheimer's, the level of care needed will increase exponentially.
Unlike poor quality home care, a reputable provider offers specific programs for your senior. Professional caregivers have the training and certification to deploy the necessary type of care. You can then select the program for your elderly loved one.
Examples of home care programs:
With a superior home care provider, you can be assured your elderly loved one is safe. Read how to enjoy quality time with your senior while going on holiday travel.