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Home Care for the Elderly - Who Do You Trust?

by Jonathan Brickman


Approximately 7.6 million people in the US require some form of home health care. Responding to this growing need there are now more than 20,000 home health care companies registered throughout the United States. (Source: National Association for Home Care)

Each state's criteria vary for home care companies. Some states have no standards or requirements. Think about that last statement for a minute. Who are you trusting to provide care and companionship for your elderly loved one and on what basis do you determine that trust?

While researching for this article, we asked a number of private pay home care agencies, "How do you ensure that your clients receive excellent care?" The most popular answer to this question referenced the home care agency's commitment to hiring quality aides and companions. In fact, not to sound rude, but this answer was given so often it seemed that each were reading from the same script.

"We interviewed 4 different agencies before hiring one to provide care for mom. Each promised the basic same things to us ... in the end, in all honesty, we simply went with our gut feelings," Mary Beth W. of Rocky River Ohio.

Mary Beth went on to explain that she 'wished' there was some outside entity that she could turn to that would validate the promises and claims of these agencies. She is not alone in this fact. Recent consumer surveys show that most families would prefer an unbiased reporting system on the history of quality care prior to contracting with a home care agency. (Survey source: Certified Quality Elder Care)

Only two of the companies we interviewed were able to provide a method to verify their claims. Carefree/Homecare Companion Services, Inc and the Florida office of a franchised Visiting Angels offered the following statements,

"We are a Certified Senior Approved Service. As part of our overall commitment to quality service for our seniors, we contracted with this independent survey company. If you like, you may phone Senior Approved Services to verify our customer satisfaction survey results at toll free 877-620-6448."

This was a powerful statement to hear and we did follow up with their offer. By contacting Senior Approved Services we were able to validate the claims made by Bob Hebert of Carefree/Homecare Companion Service, Inc., located in Phoenix Arizona who described how his service ensures quality and safe practices.

Mr. Hebert stated, "Excellent care starts with hiring excellent caregivers. We tend to hire older caregivers (we average 49-years old) that are more mature, reliable and compassionate. We also conduct hands on training in a controlled environment and observe the new employees before they are sent out to work alone. The last part of ensuring excellent caregivers is to have a Case Manager visit our clients un-announced at least once a month." (http://www.carefreehomecare.com)

We were also assured of the validity of the statements made by Phyllis Rosen, owner the Florida Visiting Angels office, when she offered, "We never just assign the next available Caregiver to any patient.... We strive to create relationships...not just a robot caregiver doing chores... Every member of our team must approve anyone applying for a position as caregiver. We select only the best... Without the best caregivers, we have no business...they're our lifeblood and we let them know that. (http://www.visitingangelsfl.com)

It seemed odd that only two home care companies (we spoke with 42 agencies across the US) were able to point towards third party validation. Many boasted certifications however; contacting the associations that issue or award the certifications was a disappointment. We were not able to find any that would validate the businesses that they certified. In fact, disclaimers removing the liability of referring to one company over another was common.

It is clear that the number of families in search of quality elder care will continue to grow. The number of home care agencies will increase in direct response. Perhaps it is time that all home care companies allow an unbiased outside service to verify its claims. At this point, it appears that Senior Approved Services is the only company that does offer unbiased third party validations. If our research is incorrect (or incomplete) and you offer a method to verify the claims of home care companies please send an email to [email protected]

Resources:

Free: Seniors and family can contact Senior Approved Services by visiting http://www.seniorapprovedservices.com

Home care companies can apply for Senior Approved Certification by visiting http://www.qualityeldercare.com

About the Author

Free Lance Writer for Health and Elder Care Industry [email protected]


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