Home Services for Senior Citizens: Keep them Accountable
Entrusting the care of your loved one to someone else can be a hard and potentially nerve wracking decision to make. Here, we’re going to take you through some ways you can ensure you’re employing accountable home caregivers who are going to provide the highest level of care. It’s an incredibly important — and rapidly growing — job.
As such, home services for senior citizens need to stay ahead of accountability concerns. From the caregivers to the agencies and the services themselves, we’ve got lots of factors for you to keep in mind.
If you have a loved one that needs home services for senior citizens, then you probably have a lot of questions about how to get them the best possible care. The goal of this post is to get you familiar with all of the safeguards you can have in place to make it a comfortable choice for your loved one and your family.
Why is accountability important in home services for senior citizens?
We already addressed this point a little bit in the introduction, but we’ll delve into deeper detail here. It’s a no-brainer that you want trustworthy people working in home services for senior citizens. These types of jobs are highly important and require lots of integrity, patience, and sensitivity.
Most people are aware of some horror stories where caregivers take advantage of the elderly folks they’re supposed to be watching out for. Those instances are rare, but even one story is enough to make you a little nervous about home services for senior citizens. Making sure it’s accountable home care is one way to assuage those fears.
In this field, ensuring accountability means oversight. Someone (or, more often, multiple people) needs to be checking to make sure everything is going well for all parties. No oversight can lead to bad situations for your elderly loved ones. Obviously, if you’re dependent on a caregiver for your basic daily tasks, you need to trust them completely. Accountable home care makes that possible.
Preventing Elder Abuse
Now, we’re not including this section to scare you off of pursuing home services for senior citizens. They’re vital to the health and wellbeing of so many people, and there’s no shame in calling in professional help if you’re struggling to keep up with all of your loved one’s needs as they progress. The point of addressing elder abuse here is to shed light on the subject and hopefully make you more comfortable with your choices regarding the care of your elderly loved one.
There are several different forms of elder abuse, and there are different warning signs for each one. One of the most common forms of elder abuse is financial exploitation. It’s easy for some people to take advantage of an elderly person’s money through scams or just as a result of malicious intent. Watch out for unpaid bills, changes to wills, and unusual changes in spending patterns. Physical abuse will have more obvious signs (like injuries), while emotional abuse can be detected with signs like increased anxiety, changes in behavior and sleep, and increased social isolation.
Again, most home caregivers are qualified professionals who do a great job at keeping their clients comfortable in their own homes for as long as possible. According to the National Council on Aging, almost 60 percent of elder abuse or neglect cases are perpetrated by a family member. So, accountable home care is not just relevant for outside caregivers you’re hiring to help out. Make sure everyone in your family is on the same page.
Now that we’ve got the doom and gloom out of the way, let’s look at how home care service providers stay accountable and ensure that the care they provide lives up to the highest of standards.
What makes for accountable home care?
That’s the central question we’re trying to answer here, but there’s not one easy answer. Lots of different factors play into how accountable home services are. We’ve listed a few of them here, and we discuss them in some detail so that you can come to a better understanding of what you’re looking for in home services for senior citizens.
There are a wide variety of services available to your elderly loved ones, and as such, accountability looks a little different in each circumstance. Nevertheless, there are plenty of factors you can consider when determining whether your home services for senior citizens are trustworthy. Here are some of them.
Answering to licensing bodies
This is a comparatively simple form of accountable home care, given how easy it is for you to find the answers you need. Check to see what kind of accreditations and licenses your caregiver has. And make sure to look into the credentials of the agency you’re using, if you’ve decided to go that route for home services for senior citizens. This is the bare minimum step.
Professionals who need to maintain licenses are held to the standards of the industry-recognized organizations that grant those licenses. They’re held accountable by those organizations. They serve as proof that the caregiver has had the appropriate training, experience, and knowledge to do their job well. Continuing education is often a part of these qualifications, which means they’ll be staying up-to-date on the best practices to keep your elderly loved one happy and healthy in their own home.
Larger businesses are likewise held accountable by similar associations. Accountable home care often comes from agencies that are members of organizations like the Better Business Bureau and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.
Responsive to your concerns
Hopefully, you won’t ever have to bring up concerns with your home services for senior citizens. Your caregivers should be fully equipped to do their job well. However, in the event of an issue, you want to be sure there’s a process in place to address them promptly and appropriately.
A related aspect of accountable home care is making sure you have a clear line of communication in place. After all, how are they supposed to respond to potential problems if you don’t have a clear way of notifying them? Not only should it be easy to get in touch with the individual caregiver if you need to, but their managers should also be readily accessible.
A true advocate for your loved one
The best accountable home care is accountable to you in all ways. You want a caregiver that will advocate for your loved one in appropriate settings. You want to feel that they have the best interests of your family member at heart.
Sometimes, a home caregiver will accompany senior citizens to their doctors appointments. This can give them an opportunity to use their expertise and experience with your loved one to give the doctor more pertinent information. Making sure they participate fully is part of keeping them accountable in some cases.
Committed to a services agreement
Part of that accountability is having an agreement beforehand that all parties have to stick to. If you have something in writing, then you can reference those agreed upon services in the event of a dispute. And of course, as we’ve reiterated a few times, most experiences with caregivers are not going to run into situations where you have to hold them accountable to their agreement, but it’s good to have as a safeguard.
Agreements like these should be put into place whether you choose to hire home services for senior citizens through an agency or independently. You can set down all of your expectations in terms of hours, services, and compensation.
You can’t really have accountable home care if all parties don’t agree to the standards to which they’re being held. A well-crafted agreement makes sure everyone’s on the same page.
Like we said at the outset, it can be scary to let a stranger into your home. That’s why caregivers wearing clear identification is an important safety feature of any accountable home care service.
Here at Seniors Home Care, our employees wear uniforms that clearly display our logo, so you can always be positive they’re who they say they are. This is one way that we strive to provide the best home services for senior citizens in an attempt to make everyone involved feel as comfortable as possible.
This is a pretty small point compared to most of the others on this list. However, it can still make you or your loved one feel safer. You should also know the names of all the people providing home services for elderly citizens in your family. If you go through an agency, they will likely send multiple people at various points depending on the type of services your loved one needs. Reporting anything to that agency and maintaining accountable home care is much easier if you’re familiar with the caregiver.
Individual vs Agency: Which is more accountable?
Like we said in an earlier section, agencies often offer a second level of accountable home care. There’s an extra layer of peace of mind when you know that your caregiver has been vetted by an agency, and that that agency’s beholden to larger organizations and governmental regulations.
This isn’t to say that individual caregivers can’t also provide a high level of home services for senior citizens. It’s fair to be a little more vigilant, since you are the employer, but as long as you go through the right steps prior to hiring an independent caregiver, you should get good results.
Background checks are an absolute must. You can accomplish this in a few different ways. After you get a signed release from the potential caregiver you’d like to do a background check on, you have a few options for avenues you can go through. A law office, a private investigator, or an online company are all possibilities. Cost is often the determining factor.
You’ll want to check into all of their references and confirm they have the degrees, certifications, or other qualifications they claim to. Of course, an agency takes care of all of this before you ever lift a finger to contact them.
Choosing to employ an independent caregiver to provide home services for senior citizens is a lot of extra work, liability, and accountability steps. Opting for an agency instead is going to take a lot of that headache off of your plate. The main reason lots of people who find an independent caregiver choose them over an agency is cost.
We’ve written about the differences in agency versus independent caregivers before, so we won’t get too deep into the details about them farther than the accountability component of the job.
Accountability is vital to good home care services for senior citizens.
Now you’re fully equipped to find the most accountable home care for your elderly loved one. Keeping them in their own home and allowing them to comfortably age in place is a great option for lots of families, and it’s what many senior citizens prefer these days. Let’s recap some of our main points.
The main thing is that you go through all the steps to ensure that you feel comfortable and safe with your chosen provider of home services for senior citizens. If you choose to go through an agency, much of that work will have already been done for you. If you choose an individual caregiver, you’ll have more steps.
Also keep in mind that if you choose to go for an individual provider of home services for senior citizens, you might have less recourse if they’re not up to your standards. That makes accountable home care a little different in those situations when compared to going through an agency.
Here at Seniors Home Care, we would be happy to have a conversation about whether our home care services would be the right fit for you and your family.
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