September 27, 2018
How to Choose a Home Health Agency
What is Home Health Care?
Home health care is a broad term that describes a variety of medical and assistive services provided in the home. About four million Americans require the services of a home health provider to help keep them living independently. Forty percent of these are under the age of 65. It’s less expensive and more convenient to receive at-home care than it is to receive care in a medical setting.
If you or a loved one are living with chronic illness or disability, you might be wondering about how to best choose a home health agency. Here are three steps to choosing a home health agency that will meet your needs.
Step 1: Define your Home Health Care Needs
Before you shop for home health care services, define your needs. Defining your needs will help you find a provider that can meet these needs.
The first step is knowing if you need skilled care, unskilled care, or both.
Skilled Care Versus Non-skilled Care
Do you need skilled, non-skilled care, or both? Skilled services are generally referred to as “home health” and refer to those services provided by skilled providers. Skilled providers are caregivers such as professional nurses, social services providers, and occupational or physical therapists.
Non-skilled services are generally referred to as “home care,” and are services that require less professional training on the part of the caregiver. Home care involves services such as help with activities of daily living (ADL’s). These can be things such as help with getting dressed, medication reminders, or meal preparation.
If you are unsure exactly which types of services will benefit you, call The Independence Center at 719-471-8181 and ask to speak to the Home Health Office Administrator.
Our administrator will be happy to set an initial consultation with you to discuss your needs. Assessments are done at a later date by our HCBS Coordinators once we get an “official” referral.
In the event you only need non-skilled care, your needs are just as important as if you needed skilled care. Non-skilled home care can be just what is needed to keep you independent, in your home and enjoying quality of life.
When shopping for a home health provider, make sure the provider offers the level of care you need.
Step 2: Assess Your Resources to pay for Home Health Care
Home health care can be paid for by various sources. Such sources include private pay, private health insurance, and government benefits.
Medicare is available if you require at least one of the following skilled care types: skilled nursing, physical therapy, or speech-language pathology. Thus, “home health” may be covered by Medicare.
Your home health care needs will not qualify for Medicare coverage if you only need non-skilled care (i.e. home care personal, homemaker, or health maintenance care). Click here to learn more about how Medicare pays for home health.
If you qualify for Medicaid, you may receive coverage for both skilled and unskilled care.
Unsure which government resources you may be eligible for? Contact The Independence Center Home Health Office Administrator at 719-471-8181. The Independence Center can help identify resources and benefit programs available locally. To see if you are within the counties we serve, click here for a list of service areas.
Step 3: Research Your Available Home Health Agency Options
When researching local home health agencies, here are three essential questions to ask.
- How long have you been in business? As with most business types, the longer an agency has been in business, the better it is. Agencies with a substantial history in the community will have developed a track record that will be easy for you to investigate.
- Do you use providers that are EMPLOYEES or CONTRACTORS? Generally, an agency that uses employees will have tighter oversight and control over their employees than an agency with independent contractors as providers.
- Is your agency certified by the Federal government? In order to qualify to receive Medicare and Medicaid payments, agencies must be certified by the Federal government. Even if you don’t utilize Medicare or Medicaid benefits, hiring an agency that is qualified to receive Medicare payments will ensure that the agency you use meets Federal government regulations and standards for quality of care and reporting.
The Independence Center (The IC) has been serving people with disabilities of all ages with home health services since 1987. As southern Colorado’s disability resource center, The IC can point you in the right direction. Click here for more helpful tips about how to select a home health care agency
Now that you know how to choose a home health agency, stay tuned to this blog for tips on maintaining a great relationship with your provider and agency.