Home is where they want to be. We hear it repeatedly from aging seniors and who can blame them? Home is familiar and comfortable, and – it seems as far as they’re concerned - it is up to us to make it safe. With private home care services, it is possible to stay home longer.
Knowing what is involved with private home care services is an important part of any aging plan for the senior who wants to stay home. This includes understanding the costs involved, how to access the correct care, and how to recognize when it's needed.
What are Private Home Care Services?
From preparing meals to coordinating doctor appointments, private home care services help keep a senior safe at home longer. While they move through the day performing essential tasks, they also subtly keep an eye out for potential trouble. What does trouble look like? Pesky throw rugs, missed medications, or scammy solicitors showing up at the front door, just to name a few.
Tasks for a Private Caregiver
Assist with bathing, grooming, dressing
Who Qualifies for Home Health Care Services?
It is important to note that private home care services are different from home health services covered by Medicare. Home health services covered by Medicare must be ordered by a physician and occur for a short period of time, among other requirements. Private home care services are paid for out-of-pocket by the senior or their family. Additionally, you have control over how many hours a day, week, or month you want a caregiver in the home.
Medicare home health services can be a support to seniors aging at home, as well. In fact, a private home caregiver may notice when physical therapy, occupational therapy, or medical equipment may be needed and communicate that to the family or physician. Both services can be used at the same time. However, the duration of Medicare home health services will be determined by the physician according to the plan of care developed on the patient’s behalf.
Did You Know?
If you have exceeded Medicare benefits for services, you can pay for services out-of-pocket. You can hire a private physical or occupational therapist or a private duty nurse to continue to provide the care you want. Additionally, you can receive mobile primary care visits from the provider of your choice and pay out-of-pocket if you wish.
Who Provides Private Home Care Services?
The ability to stay at home safely is only successful with advance planning. When the senior or family comes to the realization that additional care is needed, a conversation needs to take place. Whether or not that is a difficult conversation entirely depends on your family dynamics and if an aging plan has already been developed.
Private home care services can be expensive, so an aging plan that has considered the financial implications of home care is vital. An effective plan outlines how the services will be provided, what price point is affordable, and what is the point at which everyone agrees private home care services are no longer viable.
3 Types of Private Care
1. Schedule Family Members to Provide Care
It can take some maneuvering and compromises, but with family members who are available and willing, this can be a good option. A family that stays engaged with an aging loved one through regular visits can lengthen time in the home. When family members are providing the care, they can get involved early with smaller tasks and slowly take on more responsibilities as needs change.
When family members are providing care, it's important for everyone to stay on the same page. If one sibling or family member will be providing most of the care because they live closer or have a more flexible work schedule, be realistic about the demands of caregiving. Support that sibling with opportunities to get away and enjoy respite time, even when they insist they are doing “just fine.”
Did you know?
Family members can be compensated for providing care to aging loved ones through public benefits programs. Caregiver Assistance Programs are available in Florida for those who qualify. For veterans, there are specific programs to provide VA Caregiver Support with a monthly stipend for primary family caregivers.
2. Buyer Beware When Using Private Caregivers
For the purposes of this section, a private caregiver is a person known to you or has been introduced by family, friends, a church, or other organization other than a licensed agency. This is the friend of a friend who just likes helping seniors. When a private caregiver is introduced to you who is not employed by or under contract with a licensed agency, you’ll want to ask plenty of questions.
For example, can this caregiver provide a clean background screening? Do they have recent, local references you can call? Are they licensed, bonded, and insured? Do they have reliable transportation? What type of training have they had, and do they hold any additional certifications?
Responsibilities When Hiring a Private Caregiver
Managing your “employee”
Did You Know?
Simply put – hiring a private caregiver is risky. Essentially, you become the employer. Depending on the number of hours you need help each week, scheduling private caregivers can become your full-time job. Few private caregivers carry their own professional insurance, leaving you vulnerable to theft, fraud, property damage, and even abuse. That’s not to say all private caregivers are “bad” – just take extra care when choosing a caregiver and stay involved.
3. Licensed Private Homecare Services Offer Peace of Mind
One of the biggest advantages to using a licensed private home care agency is that they manage the caregivers. From training, credentialing, and background screening all the way to scheduling, a private duty agency handles the process for you. They even strive to match the caregiver to the personality of the client. Providing consistent care in the comfort of the senior's home is how private home care services provide peace of mind to everyone in the family.
Private duty agencies are a lifeline between seniors staying at home safely or moving to a senior living apartment or nursing home. If a caregiver quits or doesn’t show up for a shift, the agency replaces that person. If there is an accusation of theft or abuse, the agency has processes in place to communicate with authorities, suspend the caregiver, and report to the proper state agencies. When it comes to liabilities, having an agency to manage all the immediate and potential headaches is the perfect solution for a busy family.
How Much Does Private Care in the Home Cost?
Private home care costs vary depending on the type of care needed. If you are starting early, introducing your loved one to in-home assistance with meal preparation and light housekeeping services, that will cost less than hands-on care. When help is needed with bathing, grooming, dressing, and other activities of daily living, the individual providing care needs to have higher qualifications. Therefore, you can expect a higher cost.
A thoughtful aging plan considers an individual’s goals from retirement to end-of-life and prepares finances accordingly. A family that prepares together, ages well together! It is never too early to start talking to aging loved ones about what aging gracefully looks like to them. If it means staying at home until their last breath, start researching costs and options to better prepare the whole family for a successful experience.
The most important first step in considering private home care services is to pick up the phone and call. Ask questions about the costs, qualifications of caregivers, and what is required to start and stop services. A phone call isn’t a commitment, but it is often the opportunity to be empowered with knowledge, rather than fear of the unknown.
Being reliable and providing professional care are two reasons Private Duty Home Care is a Resource We Love. Learn more about the services of a private duty agency in the Resources Section of our Blog.