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What you need to know before choosing in-home care

As you know, the government has announced there will be more focus on helping seniors age at home. I’m not sure what that will mean to the person needing care, but, in my experience, caregiver help from Home and Community Care Support Services (formerly known as the Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) isn’t enough to sustain some seniors living alone. Hiring private home care may become a necessity, and many are not prepared for the cost.

Recently, I damaged the meniscus in my right knee. Losing my mobility coupled with some compounding health conditions, meant that I was unable to take care of myself. I needed to hire home care.

I contacted a home care company I had used before and they responded quickly. For several weeks, I had a revolving door of wonderful caregivers who were helpful in my daily routines. They also offered good conversation and pleasant company when I needed it. I am truly grateful to these human beings who care for others as a profession. It is a calling to be admired.

Thankfully I am now on the mend and have ended my need for support. I’ve learned a lot through this process and found that each home care company has their own policies, pricing and procedures, and these can differ widely.

It literally pays to know this before hiring a home care service to help ensure that it best fits the needs of the client. There is more to know than just the basics – such as how they do background checks, are caregivers bonded / insured and how long they’ve been in business etc.?

Six Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Company

  • What are the hourly fees, and do they have discounts for 24-hour care?

The hourly rates can range significantly from company to company. Confirm the level of expertise you are getting, ie: Personal Support Worker, Registered Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse etc., depending on your needs. Some companies offer a discounted rate if you need to hire round-the-clock care.

  • Is there a minimum number of hours / days per week you need to book?

Some require as little as two hours at a time with no minimum days per week, while others make the client book 20 hours per week. This can have a significant impact on costs incurred for hours that are not necessarily needed.

  • What are the policies for changes and cancellations to the schedule?

This can vary anywhere from four hours to seven days! It can be difficult to predict how the patient will be that far in advance. Getting locked into a schedule can be a costly mistake to make when choosing in-home care.

  • Does the company offer live-in home care?

If 24-hour care is necessary, it might be less expensive to look into companies that offer a live-in home care service. Not all do. That means that clients are charged a lesser rate to have someone (sometimes in shifts of about two days) live with the patient. The rates are cheaper because the caregivers are living in your home, eating your food and using your utilities etc.

  • Are Caregivers allowed to take clients in their cars for appointments?

While most companies cover their caregivers with the required insurance to take patients to appointments, others do not. That means clients incur the added expense of hiring taxis, UBERs etc., to get out for a simple drive or go to appointments. Those that do offer this service add mileage to the client’s bill.

  • Do they take credit cards for payment and if so, do they charge a fee?

Most will take invoice payments by check or Interact e-Transfer. But in the case of a larger bill, Interact has its confusing hourly / daily / weekly limits, which complicates things. Paying by credit card is the easiest method. While some companies have no fee, some companies charge clients a processing fee of 2.0% to 3.5%, which can add significantly to the balance.

You may want to PRINT this list for future use – should the need arise.

Some home care companies are fortunate enough to have government healthcare contracts, which supplies them guaranteed volumes of work. Other companies who do not have these in place need to find ways to stay competitive to both attract and retain high-quality staff.

While I appreciate the dilemma, clients also have options and knowing what’s out there can save a considerable amount of money during the selection process. Hiring private home care is a costly endeavor. It pays to know the right questions to ask when choosing the right company.

Our traditional medical system is overloaded and can only do so much. It’s more important than ever to advocate for ourselves or for loved ones who cannot do so. Taking a holistic approach to healing both mind and body at the same time can be most beneficial to the patient. There are many forms of therapies that can help us to heal from the inside out, and have a profound effect on our overall wellness.

I am still on the road to recovery, and I’m thankful to be helped by both Chantell Tunney at Mindpower Healing and Hypnosis www.freshstarthealth.ca and Yovanna MorĂ© at Mind’s Eye Hypnosis www.minds-eye-hypnosis.com. Both of these therapists specialize in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and Clinical Hypnosis, which help me to manage the physical and emotional impact of chronic pain.

A friend suggested I see Dr. Eric Dawtrey at the Oakville Rehab Center www.oakvillerehab.com about my knee. He had high praise for Dr. Dawtrey and his team di lui. On my first visit, Dr. Dawtrey assessed my knee and began treatment right away. After feeling some improvement immediately, I was encouraged to continue with the center for ongoing therapies.

As part of my wellness posse, I also had an osteopath / massage therapist come to my home for weekly treatments.

All of these talented healers – together with the caregivers from Nurse Next Door www.nursenextdoor.com who sat with me in the evenings out on the patio watching the strawberry moon and the night sky – helped me to heal again.

One size does not fit all when it comes to home care and health care. When one thing doesn’t work, we owe it to ourselves to find something that does.

Note: The five companies I researched were Nurse Next Door, Acclaim Health, i-Care Home Health, Home Care Assistance of Oakville and Right at Home. There are more companies out there that you can research and read online reviews to get the best option for your needs.

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