Family members are first in line for caregiving responsibilities, whether raising children or caring for a spouse, or aging family members. Yet, while home care has been around since 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid were established, the concept of non-medical in-home care is still relatively new.
These ten things you didn't know about home care will reduce the stress and worry associated with caring for family members. Learn the benefits of regularly scheduled in-home care visits for loved ones needing support and their caregivers.
1. Delays the need for more expensive types of care
In-home care services can delay or prevent the need for more costly care out of the home. In-home caregivers initiate medication reminders, meal preparation, personal care, light housekeeping, companionship, and other tasks.
Family caregivers may worry about the health of an elderly parent worsening. Young parents may worry about a baby's health. Single adults facing surgery may worry about managing upon a return home.
Home care workers provide peace of mind by offering supportive assistance for a fraction of the cost of a residential care home, assisted living community, or nursing home. Rates for in-home caregivers range from $20 to $45 per hour, depending on the location and type of services provided.
Compare in-home care to assisted living or a nursing home where the costs range from several thousand dollars per month to $10,000 or more. Depending on your situation, in-home care may be a more practical and affordable option.
2. Supports a wide range of services for all ages
Home care agencies serve diverse clientele from babies to older adults and everyone in the middle. While some only offer non-medical care, others offer a combination of companion and personal care services and skilled medical care. For example, companion services might encourage a loved one to participate in a hobby or provide transportation to meet friends for lunch. Personal care services can offer assistance with bathing, dressing, and grooming.
If you suspect that the needs of your loved one will be changing, it's a good idea to inquire about the menu of services available when interviewing a home care agency. In addition, ask about staff qualifications and agency standards that may include extra efforts to become accredited through organizations like The Joint Commission. (this links to the Brightstar Care page about accreditation)
3. Preserves the well-being of the family caregiver
The care that family members receive is only as good as the health and well-being of the person providing the care. When short-term care situations become permanent, caregivers who are spouses and adult children can become mentally and physically exhausted.
Hiring a non-medical in-home care agency offers family caregivers the opportunity to take time off during the week, evening, overnight, or on the weekend. Regularly scheduled breaks to enjoy activities or spend time with friends is just what the doctor ordered to support positive family relationships and the caregiver’s health.
4. Implements a plan of care to provide peace of mind
You might wonder how in-home caregivers can make life easier. At an initial meeting, a company supervisor—who may also be a nurse—asks about your family situation and discusses assistance that might be helpful.
The nurse identifies areas where consistent actions can positively impact family care. For some, this may be companionship for an elderly parent with dementia or grocery shopping and meal preparation for the week to relieve the family caregiver of this task. In-home caregivers alleviate family caregiver stress and meet the needs of care receivers, giving the family peace of mind.
5. Provides trained employees to support care needs and unexpected situations
Things you didn't know about home care or may be afraid to ask include knowing if caregivers are trained. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer's, uses medical equipment, or is nearing an end-of-life care situation, it's essential to know that the caregiver visiting your home is trained and competent.
If you hire a caregiver independently online or through someone you know, evaluating background and work experience may be challenging. Home care agencies that provide registered nursing oversight and employee training are worth their weight in gold when the unexpected happens.
A home visit from a registered nurse can identify a change in health like a fever or breathing issue that might indicate a more serious condition. Then with a call to the doctor’s office, the nurse can obtain a prescription for medication or an order for treatment to prevent unnecessary hospitalization.
6. Professional caregivers take on the task work so family caregivers can focus on relationships
Family caregivers often feel like they are the housekeeper, the repairman, the laundry person, or the cook. Instead of feeling like chores are never-ending, family caregivers can establish a relationship with a care agency to provide a wide range of services, including respite care. Respite means that family members are relieved from busy work to spend more time making memories with loved ones.
7. Allows families time to plan for the future
Care situations can arise out of crises. A parent is hospitalized and is sent home but struggles to complete daily tasks. A nursing home stay may be cut short with a parent released days or weeks before the caregiver anticipated.
When families are unsure how a loved one's abilities might improve, utilizing home care services gives families time to take a breath and evaluate the situation. In-home caregivers can provide short or long-term care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This support is vital to allow families to make thoughtful and practical decisions about the timing of next steps for a loved one's care.
8. Acts in a supervisory role so you don't have to
Ever worry about what happens if the caregiver you hire isn't right for you or doesn’t show up? Another of the things you didn't know about home care is that you don't have to be the supervisor. The care agency supervises and trains staff, hires, manages schedules, and completes background checks, payroll, insurance, and taxes.
You'll never have to feel burdened by covering a shift if your private caregiver can't show up. Nor will you feel uncomfortable about a caregiver offering too much personal information or crossing a professional boundary. If the situation doesn't feel right, all it takes is a
phone call to the agency to resolve your concern.
9. Offers backup support and resources
Let's say you're at work and you receive a call that mom is scheduled for a doctor's appointment tomorrow. You're not available. Accompanying a loved one to a medical appointment is a perfect assignment for an in-home caregiver.
Care agencies are used to dealing with the unexpected and can usually provide a caregiver for last-minute projects. In addition, if there is a request for assistance not offered by the care agency, many have a list of helpful resources that can assist with other needs.
10. Extends care services from birth to end of life
Some agencies offer a broad range of care services for newborns to supplemental caregivers when hospice care visits the home. As family caregivers know, aging family members are insistent in their desire to remain living at home. The challenge is that being a caregiver takes a toll on many areas of life. Being a caregiver can extend beyond months, years and decades.
BrightStar Care of Fairfax has been working with families since 2012. Read BrightStar Care's Home Care Planning Guide to learn more about home care or call 703-267-2380 to talk to a local home care expert.
About Pamela D. Wilson
PAMELA D WILSON MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA is a national caregiving expert, author, advocate, and speaker educating family caregivers, older adults, professionals, groups, and corporations. Since 1999, Pamela has been an entrepreneur and business owner providing direct service: in-home care, care management, and legal and financial appointments. In addition, she consults about elder care, care navigation, caregiving services, and caregiver support programs with families, health and care providers, attorneys, and financial planners.
©2022 Pamela D Wilson, All Rights Reserved