By Donna Kendrick
Your parents are getting older—walking slower, becoming more forgetful, visiting the doctor more frequently. You know they need your watchful eye more than ever—but your time and availability are limited: your children demand your attention, your job is time-consuming, and the household chores never end. You just don’t have the time to do everything for your parents, but you need someone you can trust with their well-being.
A Boomer Burden
As the “sandwich generation,” baby boomers often face the twin burdens of caring for both children and aging parents—as well as juggling the challenges of career and home. Traditionally, aging relatives were cared for at home—facing their last days in familiar surroundings with their loved ones.
But today, with more households headed by single parents or where the two spouses work, balancing family responsibilities with caring for aging parents have left a lot of Boomers feeling overwhelmed. For many, the solution has been home health care, which allows aging relatives to remain in the comfort of their homes while receiving the care they need.
What is Home Health Care?
Simply put, home health care includes medical or non-medical services provided in a client’s own home. For seniors who are relatively healthy but need assistance to remain at home, home health care services might include companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, and transportation to appointments. For seniors with health problems, plan of care is developed based on the client’s specific needs. For some, help from a home health aide might be adequate for assistance with tasks such as bathing or navigating stairs. For others, skilled nursing services may be needed to help with a chronic illness, injury, or disability. With advances in modern technology, even complex high-tech tracheostomy and ventilator nursing care can be delivered in the home.
Benefits of Home Health Care
The benefits of home health care are numerous. Scientific evidence demonstrates that patients heal more quickly at home. Home health care also helps to reduce stress and extend life expectancy. In addition, because home health care is tailored to a client’s unique needs and environment, it is one of the most cost-effective forms of health care delivery. But perhaps the greatest benefit of home health care is the peace of mind it can bring. Home health care can solve many problems and reduce worries. Still, selecting a home health care provider can be difficult and confusing. Issues such as reliability, safety, and trust must be addressed—along with the inevitable financial concerns.
Choosing a Home Health Care Provider
“I’m surprised how many people focus solely on price when choosing a home health care provider—neglecting to ask basic questions about safety and supervision,” said Mark Baiada, founder and president of BAYADA Home Health Care—a national home health care agency that has been helping people live safely at home with comfort, independence, and dignity since 1975.
“BAYADA knows this is a big decision, and we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping people make this decision and feel good about it.”
When conducting your research, be sure to get details about procedures and policies. By conducting thorough research before hiring an agency, you’ll know you’ve made the best possible choice for you and your parents.
• How is staff selected?
• Are employees insured?
• Are employees subject to criminal and reference checks?
Understanding how employees are selected is critical, and reputable agencies will enforce thorough security measures. “BAYADA has stringent standards for all employees and thoroughly checks references, background, and experience before making an employment offer,”says Baiada. “If an applicant doesn’t meet our rigorous standards, we will not hire them.” Although agencies with these types of security measures may cost more, paying a few extra dollars can mean the difference between quality care and substandard care.
Agency history and accreditation
• When was the agency established?
• Is the agency accredited?
There are more than 20,000 home health care providers in the US—each offering a different array of services. Because of industry volatility due to recent changes in Medicare payment policies, many agencies do not have long track records or proven stability. BAYADA, however, is one of the nation’s oldest independent home health care providers.
You should also find out whether the agency is accredited by any independent organizations. For example, BAYADA is accredited by the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), for meeting the industry’s highest nationally recognized standards of care.
Scheduling and supervision
• How are employees supervised?
• How are scheduling problems
• What sort of training is provided
It is critical to know how an agency supervises and supports its employees—as well as the procedures for handling call-outs. Because home health care workers are always “in the field,” it is important that they receive adequate support and supervision. BAYADA is unique in that each client is assigned both a client services manager (who schedules staff and coordinates services) and a clinical manager (a registered nurse who makes home visits to assess, plan, and supervise care, in addition to the client’s assigned BAYADA caregiver). BAYADA also ensures that on-call supervisors respond to after-hours calls so that clients and employees are fully supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
When looking into care for your parents, it’s also important to find out how employees are oriented to cases and how their skills and certifications are kept up-to-date at various agencies. At BAYADA, each employee undergoes a general orientation upon hire and a specific orientation for each case. Employees also attend ongoing training and continuing education programs and must maintain all professional certifications.
• How is the care plan determined?
• How will we be introduced
to the care team?
• How is the level of care
Home health care agencies must work closely with a client’s care team and payer/insurance company to determine a care plan. It is important to know that agencies are legally mandated to follow physicians’ orders on all skilled cases and can provide no unordered skilled procedures. Agencies must also coordinate services with a client’s payer/insurance company, which authorizes the level and amount of care allowed. Once these factors are determined, the agency should work closely with you and your parents to explain the care plan and how it will be implemented, monitored, and updated.
At BAYADA, a clinical manager visits a client’s home to explain the care plan and introduce the home care team. At that time, clients receive a binder containing the care plan and all related information. This binder is continuously updated and monitored to ensure that appropriate care is being provided.
Cost and payment
• What types of insurance are
• How is insurance billing
Lastly, understand ahead of time how insurance payments and billing will be handled so there are no surprises. For example, BAYADA accepts private pay, health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and other governmental programs. To ensure that services comply with a client’s insurance coverage, BAYADA contacts the insurance company to determine the maximum level of home health coverage and bills the company directly. BAYADA also has service offices dedicated to handling claims, payments, and any related issues.
Home health care may be the ideal way to preserve your parents’ independence and your own peace of mind. Although the idea of having strangers care for your parents may be difficult to imagine, most home health care recipients eventually come to view their caregivers as “members of the family.” By conducting thorough research before hiring an agency, you’ll feel better about this important decision.
If you would like to learn more about home health care, or to receive a free nursing assessment from BAYADA, contact Donna Kendrick at
About the Author
Donna Kendrick, RN, director of the BAYADA Home Health Care office that serves adults in Lewisburg, has been with the company for five-and-a-half years. Prior to being director, she worked as a BAYADA clinical manager for the Lewisburg office and as a BAYADA clinical liaison for the Hershey Medical Center.
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