State Port Pilot Article

Author: Joie Mahler, RN CSA, Coastal Companion Care LLC
Former Agency Director, Certified Senior Adviser

Most of us would agree that there is "no place like home." The word "home" is one of the most emotionally charged words we can speak. Our homes hold our hearts, our possessions, and our memories and give us a sense of belonging, comfort and security. For anyone searching for in-home care for themselves or a loved one, this important place called home may have just become even more central to our identity; for inviting someone to come into your home is a very significant event. The AARP's recent study reflects our desire to continue living in our own sweet abode; showing us that 90 percent of individuals over the age of 60, desire to continue to live as they age, in their home.

Gradually, or sometimes suddenly, it happens to our loved one or ourselves… that household chores become more challenging, that vision, mental or mobility impairment limit our ability to drive or cook safely. Sometimes falls begin to occur that can lead to serious injuries. And it begins; a nagging fear, that we or our loved one is losing independence. In fact, loss of independence is the biggest fear among seniors, as is leaving their home. So what is the typical senior response? Of course, to carry on; to keep going at home; just now, with a little help. Unfortunately, many times children live away and have their own families and full time jobs. Well meaning loved ones many times have commitments that prevent them from assuming the primary caregiver role. This is when it becomes necessary to plan a new strategy to allow us or our loved one to continue to live at home; a strategy that involves some very important choices.

Typically seniors and their loved ones seek in-home care from two very different avenues; they seek and hire someone privately; a caregiver that they solely obtain themselves without the help of an in-home care company, or they seek help from an in-home care company. These companies provide activities of daily living assistance to seniors in their homes. Hal Mahler, Former CEO of Coastal Companion Care, states; "Caregivers that are not employed by an in-home care company are usually less expensive, however, the senior and their family assume risk involved in hiring and employing them directly. All factors should be taken into consideration, not just the cost of the care."

Whichever avenue is decided upon to obtain in-home care, there is no mistaking this choice… it is a very important decision for the senior and their family. There are basic, important questions that should be asked by seniors and their families, whether they choose to obtain a caregiver privately or obtain the assistance of an in-home senior care company to assist them to providing care.

Mr. Mahler states, "This is not a time to shortcut the investigative process, but to make sure that the background work is done either by the family, if they are hiring the caregiver privately or with the assistance of an in-home care company, chosen by the individual and/or their family." Whichever avenue the individual and family choose, they need to stay actively involved in their choice of in-home care. All factors should be taken into consideration, not just the cost of the care. "Fully trusting those that care for our seniors is essential to the well-being of each family and the well-being of each individual" and key to a senior safely and happily living in the comfort of their own home," states Mr. Mahler. In-home care companies are professionally trained to perform the extensive background work that needs to be successfully completed before a caregiver can be placed in a home with an individual.

Listed below are some extremely important considerations and questions that should be asked by families that are privately obtaining caregivers or the chosen in-home companion care company providing in-home senior care:

Have criminal and DMV background checks been completed?

Is the in-home care company licensed, bonded and insured?

Does the caregiver or the in-home care company have liability insurance?

Has the caregiver ever been convicted of a crime or had a moving violation?

Have 5 previous client/employment references and 5 personal references been checked and approved?

What is the caregiver's experience/background in the area of in-home senior care?

Is there supervision and ongoing training and support for the caregiver?

Does the caregiver have any certificates or specialized training?

Has the caregiver worked with (Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, cancer, etc)?

What is the emergency protocol?

How much notice will be given if the caregiver can not work? Is there a back-up plan in place?

If the individual and/or family is obtaining a caregiver without the assistance of an in-home care company the following additional questions should be addressed:

Who will arrange, coordinate and plan the on-going schedule for the caregiver(s)?

Who is responsible for a replacement if the caregiver is absent?

Who will be responsible for withholding payroll taxes, and providing state mandated worker's compensation coverage?

Can they arrange their own substitute if they are unable to come to work?

Because of the growing complexities of obtaining, hiring and retaining quality in-home caregivers, more and more individuals and families are seeking the assistance of in-home care companies to assist their loved one the opportunity to live as independently as possible in their own home. These companies provide a wide range of services including assistance with activities of daily living, bathing and personal care, light housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry, daily recreation activities and exercises, transportation and outings, shopping & errands, medication reminders, other in-home care coordination, monitoring safety and companionship. These one-on-one services can continue even if it becomes necessary for the senior to leave their home and move into an assisted living or even a nursing facility or hospital. There are certain added benefits to choosing an in-home companion care company, such as: .

Professional screening and supervision with on-going training of caregivers

Coordination of care with physicians, therapist and other care providers

Service is customized for the needs of each client and family.

Extensive hours are available with personalized scheduling

In-home care company is responsible for all employee payroll, taxes, liability insurance, workers compensation and bonding

In-home care company is responsible for providing all scheduling, coordination and necessary caregiver replacements.

This service is more expensive than independent caregivers, however, the right in-home companion care company will provide the most customized, trustworthy, reliable, worry free, in- home service available.

Most of us in the future will face the need for some extra help at home, for ourselves or a loved one. And the truth remains, most of us will want the comforts and security of our home. Choosing an in-home caregiver that is compassionate, trustworthy and professional is always worth the time, money and effort upfront; because our homes really do hold our hearts.

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