When arranging for home care for your parent, you and your parent are responsible for setting up the services you want. You can choose from services that range from the basic, in which an attendant visits for a few hours a day to help with personal care, to the comprehensive, in which your parent receives 24-hour a day nursing care. Your choices will be based on your parent’s individual needs and doctor’s instructions.
After your parent’s doctor has prescribed home care, and you and your parent have decided on a home health agency, a staff member will meet with you and your parent to discuss your parent’s needs and ask questions about your parent’s health. The staff member should also provide a written statement of patients’ rights.
The agency will draw up a plan of care based on doctor’s orders and any requests and preferences you and your parent may have. The agency staff will also talk to your parent’s doctor and update the doctor about your parent’s progress. You should expect the agency to maintain the confidentiality of your parent’s health information and to reply promptly to requests for service.
In addition to any specific care your parent’s doctor prescribed, such as wound care, intravenous or nutrition therapy, or injections, caregivers perform tasks that include:
- Checking blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing
- Making sure your parent is taking the correct prescriptions and other treatments
- Making sure your parent is eating and drinking properly
- Asking your parent about pain
- Checking that your parent is safe in the home
- Coordinating your parent’s care by communicating regularly with everyone involved
- Educating your parent (and you as appropriate) about the care
Agencies may also provide a medical social worker to help you and your parent find community resources to help with home care.
Personal Care Services
If you hire a home health aide, services that they typically perform include helping with activities of daily living (such as bathing or dressing), shopping for groceries and making meals, organizing your parent’s schedule and appointments, and arranging transportation for medical appointments and other outings. In some states, home health aides are allowed to administer medications under the supervision of a licensed nurse.
Aides will also usually do light housekeeping tasks (such as laundry and vacuuming), but for heavier housework, you’ll probably need to hire a homemaking service.
In general, expect that anyone who comes into your parent’s home is respectful of your parent and their possessions, follows the plan of care established, and performs tasks at a high standard. If you have complaints about a Medicare-certified agency, Medicare offers instructions on how to file a complaint. You can also contact the state agency responsible for licensing, if agencies are licensed in your state, or file a complaint with the attorney general’s office.