For many families, in-home care can be a godsend. However, it’s natural to be cautious about hiring outside help to care for someone you love. Achieving a realistic understanding of how home care works will enable you to address concerns head on and make confident care decisions for your family.
Below, we identify and debunk common concerns about in-home care and professional caregivers.
Common Misconceptions About Hiring Home Care for Elderly Loved Ones
Professional caregivers don’t care about their clients.The caregiving industry is similar to vocations like teaching, nursing, social work, and mental health care in that it tends to attract people who, by nature, care about the welfare of others. Michael Fleming, senior vice president of growth, support and development at LHC Group, a national home health care provider, explains that nurses, therapists and home health aides are hired, first and foremost, to provide in-home treatment based on a senior’s individual needs. While meeting those care needs, a professional caregiver should establish rapport, make the client feel at ease, understand their hesitations and make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Family members are often concerned that professional caregivers are not invested in caring for their loved ones because they are strangers. However, many families find that a genuinely caring relationship blossoms over time. The best way to ensure a strong bond between care providers and care recipients is to take an active role in hiring a home care company and interviewing individual caregivers. A quality company will match a senior’s clinical needs and personality with a professional caregiver who has the appropriate training and attitude. When interviewing, look for caregivers who are not only knowledgeable but also demonstrate compassion and warmth.
Read: 5 Qualities to Look for in a Caregiver
Professional caregivers abuse and steal from seniors.Many of us have heard stories about older adults who were mistreated or victims of theft. For those reasons, some families refuse to hire any professional elder care services. The threat of elder abuse is real, but that doesn’t mean valuable resources like in-home care should be ruled out. There are preventative measures that can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of any wrongdoing.
Fleming believes that most of these kinds of crimes are committed by unskilled, independent caregivers or sitters who are not hired through a reputable company. The best way to protect your loved one is to perform your own due diligence when selecting a home care company. Inquire about potential providers’ methods for hiring and screening employees, and ensure they are licensed, bonded, and insured. Confirm that the company provides regular supervision of its employees and has a meticulous process for responding to and investigating client complaints. Knowing that a company thoroughly vets its caregivers and takes steps to insure against any issues will give you added peace of mind.
Read: How to Choose a Home Care Agency
In-home care is only for people who are very sick.It is true that seniors who have chronic health conditions or are recovering from an illness or operation may receive skilled nursing care at their homes. Medically necessary home health care covers a wide range of skilled services, such as wound care, physical therapy, IV therapy and injections.
However, non-medical in-home care is available for seniors who just need some extra help with personal care and household chores. For example, a relatively healthy individual with arthritis could use assistance getting around the house, cooking healthy meals and doing laundry. Non-medical care often revolves around assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, dressing and bathing. Depending on the situation, a senior may benefit from a combination of both types of in-home services.
Read: The Difference Between Home Health Care and Non-Medical Home Care Services
I have no control over who comes into the home.It can be a little unsettling welcoming a professional caregiver into your home, but consumers ultimately control who will be caring for their loved ones. Hiring a reputable company that allows families to interview individual caregivers before services begin is the best way to ensure a comfortable match.
Finding the right fit requires some up-front work on the company’s part as well. Staff should analyze the senior’s needs and select a caregiver (or two) who is suited to meet them. If at any point you are unhappy or uncomfortable, call the company immediately. They should be willing and able to work with you to find a better fit.
The quality of care in the home is inferior to care provided in senior living facilities.In-home care is a viable solution for preventing or delaying placement in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, but it is not intended to replace residential long-term care. Both skilled caregivers and unskilled caregivers receive extensive training in their respective fields before they ever enter a person’s home. If you’re concerned about the quality of care your loved one will receive, ask the home care company about the scope of services they provide, their care planning policies, training processes and continuing education requirements, and how they evaluate caregiver performance. Also, consider the fact that a companion or home health aide provides one-on-one care and supervision in a private home whereas each staff member in senior living settings is typically responsible for multiple residents.
If a senior only needs help with personal care, they don’t qualify for home care.One of the best aspects of home care is that there is no level of service that is too basic. In fact, many home care companies offer short, specialized visits simply to provide a senior with bathing assistance. These companies provide care on a spectrum, from companionship services and bath visits to skilled nursing and occupational therapy sessions. Be sure to ask prospective providers what level(s) of care they specialize in and inquire about any minimum hourly requirements.
If a senior needs around-the-clock care, home care isn’t an option.Many companies do provide 24/7 care and live-in care. With around-the-clock care, a company will coordinate a team of caregivers to be awake and able to provide care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Read: Hiring a Live In Caregiver: Pros and Cons
Home care is not affordable.Peter Ross, CEO and co-founder of the Senior Helpers home care franchise, says there are actually many ways for seniors to afford quality care in their own homes. “With options like reverse mortgages, VA benefits, long-term care insurance, and access to state and local programs such as Medicaid, many more families are able to afford quality care for their loved ones at home,” he explains.
One of the many benefits of home care services is that they are offered on an hourly basis and easily customizable to fill specific holes in your schedule and care plan. According to the annual Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, the national median hourly rate for home health care is $24 in 2020. For comparison, Genworth reported that the national median cost of a one-bedroom residence in an assisted living community is $141 per day, totaling around $4,300 per month.
While there is some overlap in the services that home care and assisted living provide, most people do not use home care as a 24/7 solution for a prolonged period. Even if you were to hire 40 hours of in-home care per week (totaling $4,160 per month), it would still cost less than a month of assisted living. For many seniors and their family caregivers, a few hours of in-home services each week is the perfect fit for their needs and budget.
Read: How to Pay for In-Home Care
I am the primary caregiver, so I don’t need additional help.According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, “As a caregiver, you should neither expect—nor try—to be on-call 24 hours a day.” When family caregivers take it upon themselves to meet all their loved ones’ needs personally, it seriously affects their physical and mental health and often results in caregiver burnout. Everyone—nurses, doctors and family caregivers—needs respite and relief. With home care services, a professional can provide valuable breaks from the rigors of full-time caregiving.
Read: Respite Resources for Family Caregivers