Selecting the Best Home Care Agency in Baltimore
REFINING YOUR SEARCH
The first step to finding the best home care in Baltimore is understanding what level of care is needed. There are three main types of in-home healthcare services:
- Skilled Home Health. Skilled home health services provide for medical needs, physical and other therapy, and skilled nursing. It is generally provided on a short-term basis after a hospitalization,
- Home Care. These services include assistance with the activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and toileting. They can also include supportive services such as housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation and the like-or companionship.
- Transitional Services. Provides short-term assistance with a discharge from a hospital or rehab facility, stabilization at home, assimilating the client back to home life, and supportive services such as grocery shopping, medication pick up, etc.
Different agencies provide different services. This article will primarily cover longer term, home care services. These services are designed to allow clients to remain safe and independent at home for as long as possible. There are many choices for these services in the Greater Baltimore area and the more you know, the more satisfied you will be with your choice.
PAYING FOR HOME CARE
After you have determined the type of agency required, the second step is determining what resources are available to pay for the home care. In general, home care services are charged on an hourly basis. These hourly charges may be paid with private funds, through a government assistance program like Medicaid, or increasingly through long term care insurance. Click here for resources on paying for home care.
QUESTIONS TO ASK HOME CARE AGENCIES
Once you have determined the type of home care services your loved one needs, how you can pay for these services, and have a list of appropriate agencies, it’s a good idea to interview the agencies to compare them. Use this checklist to help you choose the right home care agency.
- What home care services does the agency provide?
- Does the home care provider supply literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources? Many agencies furnish care recipients with a detailed “Patient Bill of Rights” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the providers, care recipients, and caregivers alike. Ask for these materials.
- How long has this agency been providing home care services?
- Is the agency licensed by the state as a Residential Service Agency (“RSA”)?
- What is the minimum hourly shift the home care agency will provide. Many agencies in Frederick have high minimums for its hourly shifts.
- Does the agency participate with Maryland Medicaid and can it assist with the eligibility process? The agency should have an established track record and be able to provide references.
- Do they offer the specific services you need (e.g. transitional services, medication reminders or administration, RN assessments and oversight, etc.)?
- Can they meet any special needs you may have (e.g. language or cultural preferences)?
- Is the staff employed by the agency or just independent contractors? Many agencies in Baltimore use a registry model with independent contractors. This model does not allow caregivers and other staff to be trained and managed.
- How does this agency recruit, select, and train its employees?
- Does it perform background checks on staff?
- Does the agency require CPR and First Aid certification?
- Does it have written personnel policies, benefits packages, and malpractice insurance? You’re more likely to get a committed and dedicated aide when the company selects its staff carefully and supports them with the proper policies, protections, and incentives.
- Are nurses required to evaluate your loved one’s home care needs? If not, that agency likely can only provide companion services and very light supportive services.
- Does this agency include the client and family members in developing the plan of care?
- Are they involved in making care plan changes?
- Is the client’s care documented, detailing the specific tasks to be carried out by each caregiver?
- Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care that clients are receiving in their homes? If so, how often do these individuals make visits?
- Who can the client and family members call with questions or complaints?
- How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems? This helps ensure the caregivers are performing the services correctly and responding to the client’s changing needs.
- What are the financial procedures of the agency? Will it provide invoices explaining the costs and payment plan options associated its services?
- What procedures does the provider have in place to handle emergencies and after-hours situations?
- Are caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Not all Baltimore home care agencies are available around the clock or guarantee replacement coverage if the assigned aide is unable to come.
Ask for a list of references, such as clients, clients’ family members, doctors, discharge planners, and other community leaders who are familiar with the agency. Ask about the agencies and what they know about the agencies’ reputations. Ask whether the reference has a financial relationship with the agency. Finally, ask whether they would recommend the agency or use it for their family members. HomeCentris has a variety of referral sources and other references in the Baltimore area we would be happy to supply. If we can be of any assistance in helping you through this process as you review agencies in Baltimore, please call our office at 410-486-5330, email us at [email protected], or view our website.