What to look for in a home care agency


By Angela Rocheleau

There is a great interest in home-health services these days as the boomer population begins turning 65. With so many options available it has become a more intense process than ever before to search for the right home health agency. An educated consumer needs to have a sense of guidelines: what do you look for? How do you know what match will be right for your loved one? What is the standard of care you can expect?

We receive these kind of inquiry calls a lot these days. Families are trying to learn all they can so they can make the right decision for their loved ones. Here are a few examples of recent questions with my responses.

Q: My great uncle, who lives a distance from me, needs home health care. How can I be certain that I am hiring trustworthy, knowledgeable help with the best training and ethics?

A: You are right to be concerned. There are many choices and it can be confusing. Be sure to do your due diligence and look for agencies that have a strong history of ensuring a consistency of service and a company culture of excellence. Agencies that create quality expectations and guidelines for their office staff as well as their field staff will reflect that level of standard and integrity with their clients. Look for agencies that have been recognized in the community with high standards and show a strong commitment to quality service. Meet with nurse supervisers and learn how they conduct a plan of care. If your uncle has special needs, the agency should offer aides with the specific training to meet that need. Then stay involved with your uncle’s care and be sure the agency communicates to you on a regular basis with reports and updates.

Q: My elderly mother has always been very independent but lately seems very confused. She doesn’t seem to remember anything, and when I arrive at her home, I even need to remind her who I am. The place is a mess and she is not taking care of herself anymore. I am really concerned and am trying to get her to a doctor, but she refuses.

A: Your mother may have Alzheimer’s disease. It is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 and older. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes. It is critical that she be diagnosed and gets the proper care immediately.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) developed Excellence in Care to partner with care settings in the establishment of a nationwide standard of excellence in care for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Once your mother’s care plan is established, be sure to look for a private home heath agency that has aides certified in Alzheimer’s care. A trained dementia care aide who has undergone comprehensive training, specifically for this, will be able to provide the best possible care for her and peace of mind for you.

Angela Rocheleau has 25 years of experience in the home health care industry focusing on leadership roles for the past two decades. She serves on the Better Business Bureau board of Central New England and the Executive Board of the Mass Council for Home Care Aides.