Choosing In-Home Care

The growing number of older adults nationally has contributed to significant growth in the home care industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a large growth rate in the jobs of home health and personal care aides. It seems as though employer agencies of these aides are simply everywhere you turn. This blog will focus on services known as “non-medical” such as companions, homemakers, and personal care assistants. These professionals do not do “skilled care” such as physical therapy and wound care. Skilled care services need to be ordered by a physician and are done on a temporary basis, or until the patient stabilizes.

One type of in-home care provider is a companion. These professionals help to supervise, and visit or participate with a client as they do routine tasks or recreational activities. Companions are best suited for clients who may feel isolated and in need of some one-on-one social stimulation. Another type of in-home care provider is a homemaker. Homemakers provide the same services as companions, however they also do additional work to support the independence and safety of a client. Homemakers assist with tasks such as housekeeping, meal preparation, and laundry. The last category of non-medical in-home care providers is a personal care assistant or PCA. These professionals provide assistance to clients with their activities of daily living such as dressing, grooming, walking, and bathing. Again, PCAs might also take on similar tasks as companions and homemakers in addition to assisting with personal care needs. It is important to also note that companions, homemakers, and PCAs cannot administer medications. There is always a need to further clarify the roles of professionals when you speak to their employer agencies, but most can provide medication reminders from pre-poured medication containers as prescribed by the clients’ physicians.

The Alzheimer’s Association is a wonderful resource to utilize when choosing an in-home care provider. Their fact sheet, which can be found by visiting https://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_homehealth.pdf, outlines several questions to ask of the agencies offering companion, homemaker, and PCA services in your area. This is a very helpful checklist and is an appropriate reference even if a client or loved one you are helping has not been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Take the time to understand how the agency operates in terms of how rigorously they screen their employees and the exact process that is in place to ensure effective oversight. When arranging care for a loved one, it is always worthwhile to do the necessary research instead of rushing into the hiring of an in-home care provider.

In Connecticut, all homemaker-companion agencies must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection. Their office defines companion services as “nonmedical, basic supervision services to ensure the well-being and safety of a person in such person’s home.” The office of the commissioner can be reached at 860-713-6100.

Another resource is the Connecticut Homemaker & Companion Association (CTHCA). This is a not for profit group “organized to represent, promote, assist and serve the common interest of its non-medical homemaker and companion agencies and their clients.” Their 2015 membership consists of about 50 local agencies. Leadership can update the consumer about standards and policies within this growing field. For more information on CTHCA, visit www.cthca.org.

At Weatherby & Associates, PC, we understand that your life care plan could include the use of in-home services as a means to keep you safe in your chosen environment. Our life care coordinator is able to offer suggestions for in-home care based on a variety of factors including agency reputations and our clients’ unique needs. We can work as a team with you to ensure that your care providers are truly the best fit. Please call us at 860-769-6938 if we can help you care for a loved one.

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