We all want to stay at home for as long as possible. Being in our own place keeps us feeling secure and safe, and provides reminders of happy times like children growing up, long marriages and festive parties. Some older folks can remain in their homes, provided they have people to provide home care around the clock. While expensive, it may still be more cost-effective than placement in a long-term care facility.
If it’s medically advisable for your loved one to remain at home, here are some things to expect if you obtain 24-hour care.
24-hour care generally means you don’t have a caregiver living in the home. With 24-hour care, two or more caregivers will come in 8 or 12-hour shifts. With a live-in caregiver, you would need to ensure they received an 8-hour sleeping break, as well as break coverage. If you have multiple caregivers, they are most likely paid hourly.
Live-in care’s biggest advantage is that you have the consistency of one person, with whom you and your loved one can build a relationship. The negative side is that during the rest and sleeping breaks, your loved one will not have direct supervision unless an hourly caregiver is brought in. You will need to provide a separate room for the live-in care as well as meals. Many people provide a separate bathroom as well.
24-hour care provides constant care for your loved one. Because of the rotation of people, they are probably more rested than a live-in caregiver, although that will depend on the extent of their duties.
Home health care is covered by a variety of federal and state regulations.
What to Look For
Many firms offer home health care on a live-in, 24-hour or hourly basis. You may also be looking on your own. Some companies will have set requirements for caregivers, but for others, you may set your own.
Make sure you have a full description of the mental and physical conditions of your loved one. Provide those descriptions to the service working for your loved one. They may have people who have experience with certain situations.
You will want to hire a caregiver with experience in the specific conditions, as necessary. Make sure the people you hire are strong enough to assist in transfer and lifting—even if transfer is not one of the limitations.
Be willing to interview both the principals of the firm you use and the potential caregivers. Once you have narrowed down your search, set up a meeting with your loved one and the caregivers. Give everyone a sense of what will happen before getting into the arrangement.
Even after you’ve hired someone, be observant. While most of the home health caregivers are kind, decent, honest, hardworking and caring, there are a few, as in any profession, who will take advantage of their vulnerable charges.
If you are hiring independently, do a background check on the person you’re looking at. Make sure the firm you engage, if you pursue that route, has done their due diligence.
However, you may want to consider hiring a quality firm with a solid reputation that can conduct these in-depth due diligence checks for you.
Keep good records. Make sure that payments are made on time and recorded. You might want to consider direct deposit if you’re hiring independently.
Remove the valuables. You also don’t want your loved one to give family heirlooms away.
Consider installing “nanny cams” in the house. Even if you don’t have them constantly running, knowing that monitoring can happen will ensure your loved one receives the correct care and is treated with consideration and affection. Many camera systems can be linked to smartphones.
What They Do
Your home health caregiver can be expected to do just about everything you need for your loved one. While the specifics depend on your situation, home health caregivers can:
• Give medication reminders—and some may be able to administer medications, depending upon qualifications.
• Check vital signs.
• Accompany your loved one to medical appointments and social events.
• Shop for food and cook the meals.
• Give any needed personal care for the activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing and transferring.
• They can also complete other tasks as indicated or required.
Your loved one should have a plan of care for the home health care. That plan will be formulated by you, your loved one, the nurse and the home health agency or caregiver.
Remaining in the home may be the best thing for your loved one. If it seems advisable, being careful about your choices and actions will ensure they remain safe and healthy.