ARTICLES / Caregiver / When
Caregiving is Not Enough.../
M. Pavela, LCSW
Kathy R. found communication a problem with one
home health agency while caring for her stepmother
cross- country. She faxed a durable power of
attorney right to the home health agency but “they
still wouldn’t tell me anything!” She states
that “especially when you are working from a
distance, your hands are tied when there is no
For most people, it is a far better choice to
choose a “full service” agency which provides for
all their needs (nursing, home health aide, physical
therapy) than to pick and choose services from
different agencies. This ensures that
caregivers are free to communicate amongst
themselves on a patient’s progress and work
collaboratively to resolve any issues, rather than
if they are all from different agencies and forced
to stab blindly at problems as they arise.
CONTINUITY OF CARE
Most patients fare better when they see one or
two familiar faces rather than a steady stream of
strangers passing through their lives. Find
out if the same person will be caring for your loved
one, or if they will see a new person on a continual
basis. Having one or two familiar caregivers is
particularly helpful in the case of people who are
confused or frail, as this helps both the patient
and caregiver get used to a routine. It also
helps the caregiver know what is “normal” for a
patient and what is not normal and warrants a call
to the doctor. Also important to find out is
what will happen should the regular worker call in
sick. Will the person be forced to wait for
assistance until the next day? Will a
substitute come out at the same time? Will the
person have to wait for hours until another worker
has time in their schedule?
Find out what the procedure is if there is an
emergency. Is there always someone on call?
Will a patient need to wait until the next business
day to speak with someone should an emergency happen
after the regularly scheduled service is performed?
A good agency should have someone on call 24 hours a
day, seven days a week, so urgent matters need not
wait until the next scheduled visit.
FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – A
reputable agency will not hesitate to address the
patient’s financial considerations and should
provide the patient/caregiver with a written
statement explaining what is/is not covered by
insurance/Medicare, and what services the patient
will be responsible for out of pocket, if any.
Check with friends, your physician, ask people at
your place of worship, or attend a support group and
ask which home care agencies others are using.
One of the best ways to assess how an agency
performs in the home is to look past the glossy
brochure and ask people how they feel about the
service that has been given to their loved ones.
Chances are that good or bad, people will be happy
to share their experiences.