Finding the perfect solution for caring for a loved one in the home is a challenging scenario for most of us. It requires finding a team of reliable, compassionate and trustworthy people you can count on to be there on an ongoing basis.
Many people who are facing this prospect often weigh whether to hire an agency to manage this, hire caregivers directly or provide care themselves. The cost of home care is considerable commitment and often, in an effort to save money or have more control over care, the family will try to assemble a network of individuals they find on their own. Looking at the big picture early in the process it is vital in making that decision. There are aspects to home care you may have never considered.
Locating the right people is the first task. While many people may agree to perform caretaking, they may change their minds after actually doing the work, especially if it is their first time. They may lack confidence in their own ability to deal with a person who has medical issues, or find the work not to their liking. It takes a special kind of person to do this amazing work, one with a mixture of compassion, positive attitude, education and experience.
Also, some untrained individuals are may not have the skills and experience necessary to assist with personal care of a patient such as toileting, bathing or helping a patient transfer from bed to wheel chair especially if the patient has complex medical issues. In addition, you will need several caregivers with somewhat flexible schedules. Part of managing caregivers directly would be creating weekly schedules and filling in the gaps when caretakers get ill or cancel dates. An agency can handle all the scheduling and draw from a pool of employees to cover extra hours or days needed.
Experience and training make a big difference in the quality of care your loved one will experience. When utilizing the services of an agency such as Care Advantage, you get employees who are trained and certified as Patient Care Assistants or Certified Nursing Assistants. CNAs and PCAs usually complete a 75 to 150-hour training program and receive classroom and field-based continuing education with their agency.
CNAs and PCAs are ready and able to handle the varying degrees of need of home bound individuals. They know how to deal with the day-to-day needs of a client or patient as well the correct process in the case of emergencies. They are experienced in bathing, toileting, feeding, dressing and grooming patients. They can remind clients about taking medications, take vital signs including temperature, blood pressure and pulse and report to a medical professional. They can also assist with the tasks of preparing simple meals, laundry and maintaining a clean, orderly bedroom, bathroom and kitchen environment.
Beyond these core care related issues, there are less obvious concerns that many people are unaware of.
First, there are taxes. if you pay someone more than $1,500 a year for services performed for you, you may be considered their employer and be required to pay employment taxes. If you have ever been an employer you know this is a complex, expensive and time-consuming task. Other guidelines for employer status include whether or not you provide equipment and supplies (gloves, cleaning and other miscellaneous items) needed for home care and if you provide instruction on how and when to provide the service, including a schedule and the job details. If a home health care agency is providing you with workers, then payroll taxes, worker’s compensation and any other benefits are their responsibility.
A second concern is liability. If a visitor or occasional worker is accidentally injured in your home, then homeowner’s insurance may provide coverage. But, if you employ people to perform certain duties on a regular basis, they can be considered employees, as is mentioned above. If they are injured while lifting, walking or bathing a patient or in some other way, like tripping on steps, homeowner’s insurance may not cover that. If you are hiring direct and a caretaker has an accident or injury while in your loved one’s home, you could be held liable for that. You might contact your insurance company and determine your risk and the cost of specific coverage for that type of occurrence. Home health care agencies, on the other hand, provide insurance that covers their employees while in your home.