Posted March 24, 2016 by Cindy Struk, MSN, RN, Ph.D.
Choosing home care for your family can be very stressful as the majority of us are confronted with this decision at a time when we haven’t had much chance to think about it. You may face this decision when your family member has been recently hospitalized, or is going home following a surgery and will need follow-up care at home in order to recover.
Typically you are approached with a list of home care agencies and will be asked by the social worker, or other healthcare professional involved, what agency you want to select in order to prepare your family for discharge from the hospital.
Things you begin to think about as a consumer making this choice are the very same things you think about when making any consumer choice. Are the service providers qualified? Do they explain the services that they will provide? Will they be able to provide the services that are needed, and have others been satisfied with the service?
A great place to start is with a checklist. Some questions that you may want to consider are:
Many times these questions can be answered by the social worker or nurse who may be helping to plan the discharge.
A new help for consumers is the easy to access information the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) posts on their website, which gives you an opportunity to learn about an agency’s quality. This can help you make a decision about which home care you might chose.
CMS gathers data from all home care agencies and has developed a star rating. The tool rates the home care on a 5 star scale, with 5 stars being the highest, for both quality and patient satisfaction based on comparison with other home care agencies.
The rating is composed of measures that would be important to you for getting better, such as improvement in your pain, or if the agency is timely in starting your care. The patient satisfaction star rating is based on whether those who received care would recommend the agency to others, how the staff communicated, and if the staff discussed their medicines, pain and home safety.
If you need more information, a good place to start is home care compare at https://www.medicare.gov/homehealthcompare/search.html, which allows you to find agencies in your area and compare their ratings.
Cindy Struk, MSN, RN, Ph.D.
President, Home Care, Hospice and Palliative Services
Summa Health System