When you choose home care for your parent, having a home care plan in place is essential to making sure your parent receives the care they need. The plan for skilled care will come from the doctor (a requirement for Medicare and insurance reimbursement). But for other care services, you and your parent will need to sit down with the home health agency or care provider to make sure everything is covered. Developing an individualized plan of care needs to be a joint effort among the doctor, your parent, and you and any other family members involved in care.
Working with a Home Health Agency
If you hire a home health agency, the agency will receive the doctor’s care instructions and send a staff member to meet with you and your parent to discuss your parent’s needs and daily routine. Things that the agency staff member typically assesses in developing a care plan include:
- Your parent’s physical status, illnesses, injuries, and cognitive status
- Your parent’s ability to perform activities of daily living
- Your parent’s ability to get around (for example, does your parent have trouble walking, need to use a cane or walker, or need to move in or out of a wheelchair?)
- Your parent’s medications and when they need to be taken
- Your parent’s need for wound dressings, supplies, or home medical equipment
- Your parent’s need for therapeutic exercises
- Family dynamics (will family members be participating in care?)
- Possible behavior problems your parent might exhibit and how best to deal with them
- The physical layout of the home and any safety issues
- Your parent’s dietary and nutritional needs
- Your parent’s likes and dislikes
Also make sure you provide any other information relevant to your parent’s care or your desire to be involved in the process.
Make sure you get a written copy of the plan and that it includes a list of specific duties, days and hours of care, the name and phone number of the supervisor of the caregiver, and what happens if a caregiver is unavailable at a scheduled time.
Once the agency assigns a caregiver, you probably want to meet with that person in your parent’s home, orient the caregiver to the home, and go over anything you consider important.
Working with an Individual Provider
If you hire an individual provider for home care, much more of the responsibility for developing a plan falls to you and your parent. Following the list above is a good way to make a plan. Work with the caregiver, and after you and the caregiver have agreed on a plan, the best way to avoid misunderstandings is to write everything down and make sure everyone involved has a copy.
Both you and your parent’s caregiver(s) want to be alert to signs of depression, grief, isolation, and anxiety that your parent might experience. You may want someone to arrange social activities for your parent. Another consideration is who will take care of your parent’s bill-paying and other finances, if they are unable to do so themselves.
As your parent’s needs change, so too will their plan of care. In addition to being alert to changes, check in frequently and ask both the caregiver and your parent how things are going.