Home Care Is Not a Plan
Is it time to hire a home care aide? Here’s what home care can do — and what it can’t.
Many people who are living with a chronic illness or experiencing age-related issues would rather stay at home or “age in place” than move to a nursing home or assisted-living facility, and home care can help make that possible.
A home care aide can provide assistance with daily activities such as bathing, eating, using the bathroom, grocery shopping, laundry, and other light household tasks. Home care aides monitor the patient’s physical and mental health, and provide companionship to people who live alone.
If a loved one needs additional support, home care can be useful — but it's not a solution. It's just one part of the plan.
Home care doesn't equal healthcare.
Home care is a healthcare tool, but it’s not a comprehensive one. Here are a few things that home care doesn’t cover:
- Arranging doctors' appointments. The patient may need assistance determining which providers to see, scheduling appointments, and communicating key information. If the patient has mobility issues, it may be necessary to arrange for transportation by ambulette, make sure the patient is set up for a telemedicine visit, or find a doctor who does home visits.
- Managing medications. A patient who is on several medications may need a nurse to come by weekly to sort out meds for the week. A home care aide can remind the client when to take medication, point to the meds, and watch the client take them, but a nurse is needed for anything else related to medication.
- Making the home as safe as possible. To protect a patient from falls, companies like Jukebox offer home assessments that identify potential safety hazards, recommend upgrades like safety bars and improved lighting, and arrange for installation.
- Handling emergencies. If a patient falls, most home care aides can't pick them up off the floor. It's important to have an emergency plan in place so the aide knows what to do if the patient is injured or something else goes seriously wrong.
Home care patients often have complex healthcare needs.
An expert health advisor offers services that home care can’t. Health advisors offer ongoing guidance and insights with every aspect of the patient’s care. This includes not only the items on the list above, but also:
- Working with you and your doctors to determine if home care would make the patient’s life (and family members’ lives) easier
- Evaluating home care agencies and private aides, and making objective, unbiased recommendations to help you find dependable care
- Managing the patient’s health care, including communicating directly with the aide and the patient’s medical team
- Finding providers who will come to the patient’s home (for example, if they need physical therapy)
- Building redundancies into the care plan, such as having a backup aide on call
- 24/7 availability for emergency support
Families often delay hiring a home care aide, because they think it’s too soon — or because they think it’s only necessary after an aging relative suffers a fall or other health issue.
A health advisor can help you decide if home care is the right option for your particular situation and the best time to get started. If you have questions about home care, or about how to navigate other aspects of the healthcare system, Better Health Advisors can help.