What to Know About Switching Professional Caregivers
It had been a long and often emotional road for Nancy and her siblings to find the right professional caregiver for their 78-year old dad. He was still in relatively good health but needed some help around the house.
They thought their work was done.
However, their dad began sharing with Nancy that his caregiver, who visited three times a week, didn’t seem to “get him.” He said he felt awkward in his own home. Nancy’s sister, too, had noticed that her dad didn’t seem to be thriving. They worried they had made the wrong choice.
So, Nancy and her family found themselves in the sometimes-uncomfortable place that countless families do when seeking a compatible and competent professional caregiver for a loved one. They needed to switch professional caregivers.
Finding the right professional often takes time, adjustment and patience.
And navigating a switch requires honest communication between family members and professional caregivers as well as articulated expectations from families.
Key Questions to Ask Before You Switch
If you are contemplating a switch, first ask yourself if you have given the professional caregiver enough time with your loved one. As in any relationship, there is an adjustment period and it's very important.
Take time to talk with your loved one’s professional caregiver as well as the home care services provider to share your concerns. They may be able to help navigate the issues.
Also, be honest with each other and yourselves. A few fundamental questions to ask yourself and your loved one:
- What is missing? For example, does your loved one need a different type of care or attention? Is there a personality conflict?
- What makes you or your loved one uncomfortable?
- Are there changes the professional caregiver could make? And if so, make a list and share that with the caregiver and provider.
If you can’t resolve the issue with the caregiver directly, reach out to the company and explain the problem and see if they will provide another caregiver that is more suited to your needs.
Before You Make a Change
If the current provider cannot seem to meet your family’s needs or if your family isn’t comfortable staying with the agency, it is best to do your research before you make a switch.
Some questions you should be prepared to answer:
- Did you sign a contract or an agreement? If so, read it in full to understand your obligations.
- Are you required to give notice? If so, how much notice are you required to provide?
- Are you required to provide written notice?
- Will there be administrative or exit fees to terminate the contract or agreement?
- Will a switch affect any insurance that may be covering payments? And if so, how much time will be needed to make those changes?
Also, keep in mind federal regulations require home health care agencies to be more responsive to their clients or risk losing Medicaid or Medicare funding. While it remains unknown when the changes will be fully implemented, it does seem clear that new rules will continue to focus on the rights of the client and families.
"These new regulations stress throughout that it's important for agencies to look at caregivers as potential partners in optimizing positive outcomes," said Peter Notarstefano, director of home and community-based services for LeadingAge, a trade group for home health agencies, hospices, and other organizations, to the Kaiser Health News Network.
When You Decide to Make a Switch
You and your loved one should never feel pressured to stay with a professional caregiver who is not meeting your needs, nor an agency of which you remain uncomfortable.
Here are a few pointers if you and your loved one decide that switching home care agencies is the best option for everyone:
- Before ending your agreement with your current provider, be sure you have vetted a new home care provider. Here are the critical first steps to follow to help you:
- Provide adequate notice to your current agency. Inform them you will no longer require their services (again, refer above to essential notes about the contract you signed).
- Alert your insurance or bank to ensure payments continue on time, so there is no lag in caregiving.
Remember, too, to be patient as your loved one adjusts to a new professional caregiver. Sometimes, it just takes time. And sometimes, there's a better fit. Either way, the critical thing to realize is that this is a problem that any superior home care provider can solve. And to know what superior home care services look like, click the link.