How can I stay informed with a home healthcare professional?

It's a good idea to distinguish between skilled home health care and non-skilled home health care professionals.  Though there are caregivers involved in each, the level of care can be strikingly different.  Skilled home health care is typically provided by a Medicare certified agency and offer skilled nursing as well as any number of therapies (physical, occupational, speech, respiratory, et al) to the homebound patient.  These services are often short-term, focused on goals, and covered by health insurance.

Non-skilled home health care is provided by companions, caregivers, and certified nursing assistants and is likely more directed to helping patients with the activities of daily living---bathing, showering, eating, dressing, shopping, et al.  These services can be long-term and are often private pay, meaning they are not covered by insurance and are paid out of pocket.

In either case, however, communication to you about your loved one and his/her care and treatment is critical.  When you engage any home health care agency, make sure that you establish an easy-to-understand communication plan right away.  Who at the agency will be responsible for communicating to you? How will they communicate urgent matters?  Routine information?  What is your preference for how you will receive the information?  Calls to your cell phone, home phone?  Emails?  Some families use a basic copybook in the home where each caregiver writes important notes about the patient for all to read.  And where family can contribute with their own questions or comments, too.

The important thing is not to be shy. Regardless of how you are paying for the care, you deserve to know what is happening with your loved one. 

Shelley Webb
Your job is not over once the contract for a home healthcare professional is signed and employment has begun. The more of a presence you have in your loved one's life the better. Even if you cannot be there in person, scheduling telephone meetings can let the health care provider know that you are involved and on top of things. Ask for progress reports and find out if there are any difficulties. Since the health care provider is around your loved one the most, they can give you the best information about their physical health as well as their state of mind.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.