Anyone who has considered home health care for an aging loved one will undoubtedly remember how daunting the process can be. From the foreign terminology to the overall structure of an individual care plan, enrolling a loved one in a home care program may cause a great deal of frustration for families experiencing this process for the first time. Having recently assisted my own family through the process of enrolling a loved one in a home care program, I am intimately aware of the complexities the process poses. Therefore, I offer the following five (5) tips when considering home care for a loved one:
- If financially feasible, seek out the guidance of a geriatric care manager to assist with matching your loved one with an appropriate home care agency. If finances prohibit or if you prefer to explore options independent of an agency or broker, do not be shy about asking friends and family members about their experiences with home care agencies. No online review should ever replace the recommendations of friends and family who have personally navigated these waters in the past.
- When interviewing prospective home care agencies, don’t forget to ask about their professional and general liability insurance, as well as bonding. This is especially important for those who prefer not to use a broker or agency when searching for a home care provider.
- Determine who the home care provider’s legal employer is as this will dictate several important business-related aspects of the engagement. For example, your family member may unknowingly bear responsibility for filing and paying payroll taxes if they are the provider’s legal employer. Consult with an attorney and tax professional. The upfront costs of knowledgeable counsel may save you and/or your loved one from incurring significant fees and penalties if taxes are not paid. You should research the agency and/or provider on www.njconsumeraffairs/ocp/agency.gov for licensing information.
- If theft of your loved one’s personal property is of concern, be sure to ask the agency/individual provider for proof of bonding. Be aware – not all bonds are created equal. Surety bonds do not always cover theft by a home care provider. If you are unsure, ask about whether the specific surety bond covers theft; as most often than not, a surety bond will only protect the individual if the agency files for bankruptcy or where there is a breach of contract. Home care providers may purchase a commercial crime bond which would cover theft. The individual or family may also contact a bonding company to obtain a commercial crime bond.
- A senior transitioning from living independently to receiving services in their home will notice a remarkable change of pace, so be sure to acknowledge it! Seniors facing this transition may fear the loss of their independence and/or feel a certain level of discomfort with having strangers in their home. You may decide that the best way to approach your anxious loved one is to remind them that the home care provider is stepping in to alleviate the stresses on family members who are directly involved in providing care. You may also try to alleviate your loved one’s concerns by emphasizing the fact that the caregiver’s assistance will preserve the senior’s independence in other areas of their life. You can always fall back on the advice of medical professionals who agree that home care is necessary. Patience is key, so don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a huge transition for your loved one.
These five tips provide a good starting point for families considering long-term care options. If you are considering home care for a loved one, be sure to contact the Elder Law Department at Mandelbaum Barrett PC to discuss these issues and more!
Special thanks to Blake Hamilton for his contributions.
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