nurse with a patient

When Caregiving Becomes Too Much to Handle Alone

When managing care for a loved one becomes too overwhelming for you to do alone, it is time to consider assistance from outside sources. There are several options available to you and some key things to consider when choosing the best one:  

  • Home Health Agencies There are so many local and national Home Health Agencies, it is almost overwhelming. With the demographic of individuals over 65 on the rise, it seems a new agency is popping up every day. Home Health Agencies can be a great option and are widely used. Some important things to consider when choosing the best fit are:
  • What is the turnover rate of staff. A high number of staff coming and going isn’t a good sign. It is best if clients are able to build relationships with home care providers as most often, they are in a vulnerable position or in the midst of a major life transition. Consistency is crucial.
  • Are they able and willing to share references from current clients? Positive feedback from current, preferably long standing clients is a very good sign that a high level of service will be provided.
  • How many licensed medical professionals are on staff?  The importance of this may depend on your actual needs. If you are requiring primarily companion services rather than skilled nursing services, you can choose an organization that has a nurse on staff to review cases as needed or required for the facilities licensure. If you have more defined medical needs, you will want to know how many skilled and licensed professionals are available.
  • Do they have the proper licensure and credentials?  Each state has different regulations for Home Health Agencies and Skilled Nursing Agencies. Find out what your state’s requirements are and ask any agency you are considering to provide a copy of their license.
  • What are their fees?  How do they compare to other agencies from a cost perspective? Home health services can be quite expensive and are most often not covered by Medicare unless they are ordered or prescribed by a physician. It is very likely at least some portion of these costs will be paid out of pocket so knowing what the costs will be can be an important consideration when choosing a provider.
  • How do they communicate with family and other members of the care team? Keeping informed of how your loved one is doing day to day is an important thing to consider when choosing an outside source for care. You should be informed of anything out of the ordinary that could be concerning or even day to day things that are important for you and your loved ones to know about. Ask them how they provide regular communication. Will they fax or email you notes? Do they prefer telephone calls when you are requesting updates? How is HIPAA compliance considered in their communication? This is a very important component that often goes overlooked.

Private Duty Nurses. It is an option to hire a private nurse to assist your loved one when they have medical needs that are beyond your abilities. The benefit of hiring on your own is the consistency of having one or two hand selected professionals providing care. The downside is, if something happens and this individual isn’t available, you may be stuck without care. This is also a very costly alternative. If you choose to go the route of hiring your own health professional do a thorough background check, ask for references and check them and of course, ask them to provide proof of licensure from the appropriate medical board in your state.

Personal Companions. If your loved one primarily needs someone to provide housekeeping, meal preparation, grocery shopping and medication reminders or supervision, you can hire a personal companion. Again, doing a thorough background check and checking references is very important. This can be a good alternative to a large agency in the respect that your loved one can build a relationship with one or two people rather than have 5-7 different individuals coming in and out of their home. Another thing to consider is that you can often find more qualified individuals as you will be paying them directly an hourly amount that is probably considerably more than they would be paid if they worked for an agency but your cost would actually be the same or even lower. The drawback is lack of back up if the companion you hire becomes unable to fulfill their duties and you will have to handle issues of payment and should consult an accountant to make sure you are following all tax laws. If you feel this is too much of a hassle, it is probably a better fit for you to go with a reputable agency.

Professional Patient Advocates. A professional patient advocate is someone who understands the healthcare system and will help personally guide you through all your options and considerations. It is like having an experienced healthcare professional in the family. Advocates will look at the big picture and make recommendations on what the best plan of action is and guide you every step of the way from managing care transitions to the details of hospice care. Make sure you ask any Professional Patient Advocate if they are a medical professional or what their healthcare experience is. There are Professional Advocates who do not have a medical background and offer care navigation services that are very valuable but this is very different than someone who understands how healthcare teams and healthcare systems work and can offer guidance in a health crisis situation. alska now offers one on one Professional Patient Advocacy sessions who can help you in a very personal way in addition to virtual caregiver support groups and our “Ask and Advocate” helpline.

Talk to friends who have gone through a similar situation to find out what worked well for them or get referrals for great agencies or individuals who can help. Keeping a strong network of fellow caregivers is a necessary resource. The alska secure caregiving solution is a key factor in reducing stress and making the process of caregiving more effective no matter what your care team looks like. Start you free 30 trial today