As adults grow older chronic illnesses become more common. Elderly persons with chronic illnesses are unable to get around by themselves and have to be taken care of by family. If family is not available, they may have to be put into a nursing home.
There is a different option, however: home health care. Home health aides make it possible for your elderly family member to stay home in their comfortable environment. Hiring a home health aide will help take the burden off you and help your loved one with their daily activities. Your loved one may qualify for home health care if they have certain medical conditions. Ask your family member’s doctor about medical conditions for home health care.
Hiring and Supervision
A home health aide is normally first hired by a home care agency. The agency is the one to take care of the supervision of their employees. Some of the agency’s responsibilities are assuring your loved one is receiving correct and proper care, mediation relationship issues, and pointing the aide in the correct direction of the changing needs of your loved one.
If issues come up, such as religious or cultural issues, the agency supervising the aide will help to clear them up. Also, the supervising agency will make sure the home health aide is not working outside of their scope of practice. This could mean giving insulin shots or anything that a licensed nurse would do. If a problem arises with your aide and the supervising agency cannot remedy it, they will find a replacement aide for you.
Insurance and Liability
If a home health aide is injured on the job while helping your family member, you or your family member would be held liable. Liability can include medical expenses and disability payments. If some of the home health aide’s duties are lifting, bathing, or transferring your loved one, it can become a huge risk to you and your family.
Another risk of hiring a home health aide over a licensed home care agency aide is if the aide accidentally harms your loved one, you could be held responsible because you hired the home health aide and are considered their employer. A home health aide should abide by universal precautions when caring for you loved one, but this doesn’t always happen. This makes the risk of communicable diseases somewhat higher if the aide does not follow these precautions. Since home health aides work independently, there is no one to directly ensure they are following universal precautions.
Abuse and Exploitation
In home health care, as well as with nursing homes, there is potential for abuse and exploitation. Home health care is a field in which the employees work independently so there is not much supervision, and some people take advantage of this. It is a good idea to do a criminal background check and contact references of a home health applicant. By doing this, you can protect your loved one and your family from any dishonest people. Or, if you find an aide with a licensed home care agency, the agency will take care of the vetting process for you.
Most home health aides go into home health care because they like helping people and have a large desire to see your loved ones cared for while staying in their own home. There are a few aides who do go into the field just to take advantage of the elderly and cognitively impaired people. If there is suspected abuse or exploitation, Adult Protective Services usually handle those cases. For the most part, you will find home health aides eager to help and a benefit to your loved one.
Payments and Taxes
Most health aides are hired as independent contractors, and not through an agency, which make them responsible to pay their own taxes. If they are hired as independent contractors, you or your family may be required to pay Social Security, payroll taxes, and unemployment. It is important to clear this matter up before the aide is officially hired and paperwork is signed.
It is then the responsibility of you or your family to make sure the aide is paying their taxes because you are technically their employer. If they are not paying taxes like they should, you or your family member may be held responsible. This could lead to civil fines, back taxes, and maybe even criminal penalties. If you and your loved one are hiring a home health aide not through an agency, it would be a good idea to hire an attorney familiar with these laws to make sure you are following the appropriate guidelines.
If you have Medicare, you may be eligible to receive home health care at low or no cost to you and your loved one. In order to receive these advantages, your loved one must be under the care of a doctor.
Your doctor will establish a care routine which will be reviewed regularly between you, your loved one, and the doctor. The doctor must certify that your loved one must need either intermittent skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech-language services, occupational therapy, or a combination of these. Your loved one must be homebound and the doctor will have to back that up.
Depending on the amount of services your loved one needs also depends on their eligibility. If your loved one meets these requirements make sure the agency you decide to hire is approved by Medicare to take advantage of the home health care.
So Why Use A Licensed Home Care Agency?
Home health care will keep your loved one in their home where they are comfortable while taking the burden of caring for them off of you. A home health aide from a licensed home care agency will assist your loved one with their daily activities, which gives you more free time with your loved one. Home health care is available to help your loved one stay in their home once the aging process had made it so they cannot care for themselves anymore. Having your loved one cared for and in their own home will help them live more comfortably.
Updated: March 21, 2014