The Trouble With Home Health Care

When Americans decide to hire home health care providers, they genuinely believe that it is the right thing to do. After all, they allow their parents to remain in the comfort of their homes while ensuring their safety. It is seen as the ideal solution for elderly people unable to take care of themselves. Children who have parents suffering from debilitating illnesses such as Alzheimer’s feel as if they have no choice. The trouble is, home health care involves allowing strangers into your parent’s home. You can conduct background checks but there is always the danger that certain people slip through the net.

What Is The Problem?
The life expectancy of the average American is increasing but this doesn’t mean an improved quality of life. Many elderly people are struck down by strokes or conditions such as dementia and are virtually helpless. This is where the home health care industry steps in. Even the US Government are encouraging the rise of this industry in order to cut down on hospital and nursing home care which is far more expensive. Medicare spending on home health care in the last 10 years has increased at a faster rate than any other healthcare service.

One of the problems is that agencies are diversifying but focusing on care management while the task of recruiting, supervising and training staff is being subcontracted which is lowering the standards of those who are hired as carers. Home-based healthcare aides are not bound by federal standards while state regulations are weak at best. The result is that agencies do a haphazard job of conducting background checks and they allow fraudsters and other assorted criminals free access to the home of a disabled or ill elderly individual.

Improvements
It isn’t all doom and gloom as the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act of 2007 has helped reduce the instances of elderly patients being maltreated by home health care providers. Another issue is that the job does not pay particularly well and the work can be challenging and difficult at times. Many employees become healthcare aides without knowing what to expect and discover that they don’t like the job. There are certain aspects of home health care that are unpalatable such as dealing with patients with incontinence for example. It is important for the entire industry to be professionalized so that only the most dedicated carers are chosen.

There have been calls to greatly improve the wages on offer to attract the best and brightest candidates but this will prove difficult. After all, home health care is seen as a cheaper alternative to a nursing home and consumers don’t want to pay a small fortune for the convenience of the service. Then there is the small matter of agencies taking a large slice of the pie which reduces the wages given to the employees.

Until such a time as the industry is completely regulated, it is up to you to be diligent and perform your own background checks instead of relying on an agency. Always meet the provider in person and get all guarantees down in writing. Remember, you are allowing a stranger into your loved one’s home so take all the necessary precautions to ensure the right person is chosen.

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