How to Care for Your Aging Parents from a Distance

How to Care for Your Aging Parents from a Distance

Being a long-distance caregiver can seem impossible but it can be done. Long distance caregivers are just as important as caregivers that are in the home providing the physical care.  As our family member ages, the caregiving that a family member can offer from a distance is vital. 

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Questions to Ask When Hiring Homecare Services

Providing care for a loved one can be stressful. Hiring homecare services should help relieve stress, not add to it. We made the following list to help make hiring a homecare service easier. 

Things to consider:

1.  Reputation:  Ask around. Ask your hospital discharge planner about any agency you are considering.  Rehabs or Nursing homes will usually provide you a list of agencies to consider. Senior centers and government services such as Service Link in New Hampshire are also great place to get information. Ask specifically about more than one agency for comparison purposes. 

2. Check out their website: The agency’s website should be thorough, informative and professional.

3. Ask to have a free in-home assessment. Any reputable agency should be willing and able to provide an assessment of your loved one’s needs. This meeting should be one that is not only for admission purposes, but also to answer the family’s questions or concerns. The homecare representative should be willing and able to answer and help guide the family toward the options they have, without pressure. They should be willing to be a resource for you whether you use their services or not. 

Questions to ask an agency:

1. Is your agency licensed by the state?

The states of Maine and New Hampshire require homecare agencies to be state licensed. New Hampshire also requires a state license for independent caregivers. If your family is considering hiring privately for care for your loved one please read our article on this topic "Use Caution When Hiring Independent Caregivers".

2. Will you take care of all required payroll paperwork for my loved one’s caregiver? Are your caregivers all employed by the agency?

The states of Maine and New Hampshire consider you an employer if you independently hire someone to work in your home. There is a large amount of paperwork involved in being an employer. This paperwork covers such matters as taxes, Social Security, workers compensation, disability, and liability insurance. One benefit of hiring an agency is that the agency normally does this for you. Even so, it is good to ask, as some agencies do use independent contractors as caregivers.

3. What kind of training do you provide for your caregivers?

To expect experienced and trained caregivers to work in homecare should be the minimum. However, it is important to ask if the hiring agency is training the caregiver themselves in addition to any formal training or schooling which the caregiver has had. What do they require for continuing education? Abundant Blessings Homecare’s new hire training and continuing education exceeds the state requirements in every area. Our RN is continuously adding and improving our training. We believe providing the very best training and continuing education will assure that our caregivers are the very best caregivers!

4. Do you conduct drug testing on your caregivers?

The states of Maine and New Hampshire do not require drug testing for home healthcare workers. Many homes in which home healthcare services are provided contain controlled substances, therefore we believe drug testing should be a vital part of the hiring process for any home care agency.

5. What kind of background check do you conduct on your caregivers?

Having peace of mind that your loved ones are in good hands is vital when hiring homecare services. The state of NH requires that homecare agencies in New Hampshire conduct only a State of New Hampshire criminal background check, not a Federal background check. They also do not require a motor vehicle driving record check. At Abundant Blessings Homecare we believe that State, Federal and Motor vehicle record checks are all essential when hiring homecare for a loved one. We run all three checks on all our caregivers. These additional checks are an added expense during the hiring process but we feel they are essential for peace of mind for your family. It is possible for someone to have a criminal record in another state which would show up on a Federal check and yet their New Hampshire background check would return "clear". We also believe motor vehicle background checks are imperative because often times home healthcare workers provide transportation for their clients.

6. Are your employees insured and bonded? 

The state of New Hampshire requires insurance of homecare agencies, but not bonding. However, insurance does not cover theft; bonding does. Also, not all liability insurance is the same. You could ask the agency for a copy of their policy or ask what their liability insurance covers. 

7. If at any time my loved one needs more hours of care (eg: 24 hour a day), or if a caregiver should call in sick, do you have the staff for coverage? 

Any agency you hire should have enough staff to cover these situations should they arise.

8. What is your policy regarding sending a caregiver to my loved one’s home whom my loved one has never met?  

It is not safe for an elderly person to be answering the door to total strangers. An agency should have a policy in place regarding the meeting of new caregivers. Abundant Blessings Homecare never sends new caregivers to a home blindly; we always conduct a “meet and greet”.

9. What kind of supervision do you provide? 

Once a caregiver is placed in the home of your loved one, ongoing supervision of that caregiver needs to be provided. How often can you expect a Care Manager/Supervisor to be available? Your family is assigned a Care Manager who you will get to know and trust as your go to person. At Abundant Blessings Homecare our phone number is always answered 24/7 by a real person and if your Care Manager is off when you call, you will be connected with whomever is providing coverage. In addition, we conduct drop in visits just to see how things are going on a regular basis. 

10. What kind of service agreement is required? What are your minimum number of hours?

All agencies have different policies. Find out what is required to be sure it will work for the needs of your loved one.

11. What is your method for tracking a caregiver’s arrival and departure from a clients home?

The agency should have a system in place for this that works for you and your family.

12. What are your hours of operation, and how are phone calls handled during odd hours? 

Abundant Blessings Homecare is available by phone 24/7, and is always answered by a real person!

13. Do you provide a written plan of care which clearly describes any rates and fees?

The state of New Hampshire has requirements which must be on the plan of care. The plan of care should be thorough and well    explained to your family.

14. How soon can you start services?

Your family may need homecare right away, yet the homecare agency may be too busy or too small to handle a quick start. They may need time to schedule services. This is a very important question to ask.

Home Safety Month - Home Fall Prevention for Older Adults

Because June is Home Safety Month, we though it might be a good time to make available our Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults. This document is something which we provide to our home care clients and we thought it would be a helpful resource for family caregivers.  Click here if you would like to download a PDF version of the following article. It is also available in the "Home Care Resource Library"

If you would like more information and resources on Home Safety Month visit the website for the Home Safety Council.

Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults

KEY SAFETY TIPS:

  • · Keep emergency numbers in large print near each phone

  • · Put a phone near the floor in case you fall and can’t get up

  • · Think about wearing an alarm device that will bring help in case you fall and can’t get up

FLOORS:  Look at the floor in each room.

1.  When you walk in a room, do you have to walk around furniture?  If yes, ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.

2.  Do you have throw rugs on the floor?  If yes, remove the rugs or use double-sided tape or non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.

3.  Are papers, magazines, books, shoes, boxes, blankets, towels, or other objects on the floor? If yes, pick up things that are on the floor and keep objects off the floor.

4.  Do you have to walk over or around cords or wires (cords from lamps, phone, or extension)?  If yes, roll up or tape cords/wires next to a wall so you can’t trip over them.  Consider having an electrician put in another electrical outlet.

      STAIRS & STEPS:  Look at the stairs you use both inside and outside your home.

1.  Are papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs or steps?   Pick up things on the stairs, and keep objects off the stairs.

2.  Are some steps broken or uneven?  Fix the loose or uneven steps.

3.  Are you missing a light over the stairway?   Have a handyman or electrician install an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.

4.  Has the stairway light burned out?  Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.

5.  Is there only one light switch for your stairs (either top or bottom)?  Have a handyman or electrician install a light switch where it is needed.  Consider a switch that glows in the dark.

6.  Are the handrails loose or broken?  Is there a handrail on only one side of the stairs?  Fix loose handrails or put in new ones so they are on both sides of the stairs and as long as the stairs.

7. Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn?  Make sure carpet is attached to every step or remove carpet and put in non-slip rubber treads on stairs.

       KITCHEN:  Look at your kitchen and eating area.

 1. Are the things you use on high shelves?   Ask friends or family to place things on lower shelves or cabinets (about   waist high).

  2.  Is your step stool unsteady?  Get a stool with a bar to hold on to, not a chair.

BEDROOMS:  Look at all your bedrooms.

 1.  Is the light near the bed hard to reach?  Place a lamp close to the bed.

 2.  Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?  Put a night-light so you can see where you’re walking. Consider night-lights that go on by themselves after dark.

       BATHROOMS:  Look at all your bathrooms.

1.  Is the floor in your tub or shower slippery?  Put in a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips.

 2.  Do you have some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet?  Have a handyman put in grab bars next to and inside the tub, and by the toilet.

 OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO TO PREVENT FALLS

1.  Regular exercise makes you stronger and improves balance and coordination.

2.  Have your doctor/pharmacist look at all your medicines, even over the counter medicines. Some medicines can make   you sleepy or dizzy and some should not be mixed with others.

3. Have your vision checked at least once an year.  Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

4. Get up slowly after you sit or lie down.  Some medicines/conditions can make you feel lightheaded or dizzy with quick position changes.

5. Wear sturdy shoes with non-slip soles and avoid slippers and athletic shoes with thick soles.

6. Paint a contrasting color on the top front edge of all steps, so you can see the stairs better.

7. Improve the lighting in your home by using brighter bulbs.  Use lamp shades to reduce glare.

8. It is safest to have uniform lighting in a room.  Add lighting to dark areas.  Hang light weight curtains to reduce glare from bright windows and doors.

 

Abundant Blessings Homecare provides home care for NH and home care for Maine

 

Family and Friends, Familiar Smells, Nana's Apple Pie....

...The Blessings of Home.

Founded on a belief in old fashioned values, Abundant Blessings Homecare can help you or your aging loved one be blessed by remaining in the safety and comfort of home.

Watch for our "Blessings of Home" apple spice cards with a packet of apple pie spice mix inside. When you receive the card and packet of spice mix, why not bake up an apple pie and bring it to a senior in your life and take the time to reminisce with them about the "blessings of home".

If you would like to receive a free apple spice card and information about Abundant Blessings Homecare, call or email us today.

(603) 473 - 2510 

info@abundantblessingshomecare.com