Selecting the Best Home Health Care Agency in 7 Easy Steps
Nobody ever wants to take chances when it comes to their own health or that of a loved one. That’s why when your health or that of a loved one is compromised, many of the treatment options can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, the solution to this problem is in-home care. Regardless of the situation, many patients may find that they prefer to stay in familiar surroundings. Whether it is 24/7 clinical care or just light assistance with a few things around the home, a home health care agency can be a big help.
Home care services are also an excellent option for people who require medical attention or non-medical assistance with daily activities but would instead want to receive the care at home. Home health care can help coordinate home medical equipment, chronic illness, perform personal care routines and attend to disabilities. You can also hire a caregiver on an as-needed basis, with no time constraints. These services are helpful when either a family caregiver, usually a member of the family, is unable to or is not available to assist.
Patients need to put in the time and effort to choose a health care provider. The highest quality care requires that you choose a qualified and experienced professional. Ideally, someone who has experience working with people who are suffering from a similar condition. Fortunately, by choosing the right agency, you’re 90% there; that’s why we’ll go into 7 ways to choose the right agency.
Choose A Certified Home Health Care Agency
Medicaid and Medicare tend to cover home health care costs for eligible patients. However, care has to be provided by a certified home healthcare agency. When an agency is certified, it signals that the home healthcare agency meets the needed federal and state requirements of providing quality health care.
You will still want to ask the agency if they are certified by Medicaid or Medicare. If they are not certified, the costs may not be covered.
Specialized Health Care Services
We know from experience that many health care agencies will provide clients with a myriad of services like skilled nurses, occupational therapy, physical therapy, medical social work, speech therapy, and even assist with regular activities. Many providers also have what’s called home health care speciality programs like COPD programs, heart failure programs etc. However, you always want to ensure that the home health care agency provides the services you require. Make sure to ask if it isn’t clear.
You will also want to ask if the agency can make arrangements for necessary medical equipment. Also if there are any limits to the services offered by the agency? Knowing these will put you in a better position to decide if this is the right home health care agency for you.
The home healthcare team you choose should include multiple professionals who are licensed and certified. After all team members will be caring for you or a loved one at home, which is why it pays to ensure that their backgrounds have been checked and that they have been trained. Not only will this ensure good healthcare but also your safety at home.
You will always want to ask the home healthcare agency about their qualifications. Also, if the agency runs background checks and offers special training. A yes to both of these questions means that you proceed with shortlisting the agency.
History and Reputation
It is almost obvious that you want to choose a health care agency or provider that has an excellent reputation in addition to a history of providing quality care. A good start would also be a recommendation from a friend, or a family member, after which you can do a bit of research to determine if the place has a good reputation.
While trying to determine if the health care agency has a good history and reputation, find out how long they have been in business. Also, find out if the agency is inspected by a third-party organization, and if that’s the case, when was the last inspection. Ideally, the last inspection would have been no more than a few months earlier.
You will also want to ask the home health care agency for references. Usually, this can be tricky because of confidentiality issues, but they could point you in the direction of clients you may know that have used the home health care agency.
The Quality Score
You will want to check the quality score of the home health care agency with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The CMS monitors and reports on the overall quality of home health care agencies via Care Compare. You will want to find a provider with a quality score of three and above, which is an indicator of a provider you can trust.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outline how they measure quality which you should read. However, you can also email them to find out exactly what they are looking for in an agency. Also, how does the quality score for the agency compare with the national average?
Check Patient Scores
CMS makes it a point to also measure and report on the personal experience of people who have received home health care from agencies. Patient satisfaction is a star rating that indicates how good of an experience they have had. The ratings are based on the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey. It mainly looks at important aspects of care like safety, and communication amongst a few other factors.
Ideally, you will want to choose a home healthcare agency with the best patient satisfaction score. That way, you know that the odds of yourself or a loved one having a great experience are high.
Availability of the Service
When in the process of choosing a home health care agency, you will want to find out if the staff works 24/7. In other words, the staff should be on call 24/7 and 7 days a week, including holidays, nights etc. Around the clock, availability is essential because it helps you avoid having to visit the hospital, and your access to care when needed during an emergency is enhanced.
You will also want to ask the home health care agency about their response time. Faster response times are obviously better.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Home Health Care Agency
Apart from all of the above, you will also want to check the accreditation of the home health care agency. Ideally, they should be accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC) and the Joint Commission or the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP). The accreditation mainly shows that the agency is seriously committed to adhering to rigorous standards of quality and excellence for its patients.
However, we need to highlight the fact that accreditation isn’t mandatory for home health agencies, but it helps agencies demonstrate their commitment and dedication to providing high-level performance. A third-party accreditation will also put your mind at ease since it tells you what to expect in the way of patient care, response time, and training quality for those in charge of taking care of you or a loved one at home.