Aging in place is still the preference of the vast majority of Americans—a whopping 80 percent, according to a 2014 survey by AARP. But the reality is that a large percentage of those homesteaders are likely to eventually require help in a number of areas—from assistance with some or all of their “activities of daily living” (ADLs), such as grooming and meal preparation, to companionship and emotional support. Many families turn to a home health care aide (HHA) to fulfill many of these roles.
What is a Home Health Care Aide?
A home health care aide is trained to come into the home and perform a wide variety of caregiving duties. While state standards vary, federal regulations require that HHAs receive at least 75 hours of training, including at least 16 hours of supervised practical or clinical training, and 12 hours of continuing education per 12-month period.
What Qualities Should I Consider When Hiring a Home Health Care Aide?
Many older adults are understandably hesitant to have someone in their home, even though they realize they need the help. After all they are used to being independent, and, in fact, being caregivers themselves in many cases.
That’s why it’s imperative to find a HHA who will be a great fit, both in skills and personality.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to find the right caregiver:
- Is your loved one talkative or quiet? Many will prefer a Home Health Aide who matches their own personal personality and style.
- Can your loved one be stubborn or irritable? Will the caregiver handle different moods compassionately and patiently?
- Can your family member communicate their needs?
- Can they be depended on to provide medication reminders?
- Is transportation required?
- Does the range of assistance skew more toward personal care or medical needs, or is your loved one just needing a more general “companion” who will help with household tasks?
- Are there allergies, such as to pets, or other concerns, such as smoking, that need to be addressed?
- How flexible will the work be; i.e. could someone set your loved one up with their dinner before they leave or should the HHA be there to provide feeding assistance?
How do I Find the Right Home Health Aide?
The best place to start is through an agency that offers professional home health aide services. That’s because you can have the confidence of knowing the HHA has undergone a rigorous background check (including fingerprinting), skills testing, and is trained in safety procedures.
An agency also will:
- Make sure that the aide shows up when they should—or they will send a replacement if needed. Reliability is understandably a major concern of most families hiring HHAs.
- Accommodate flexible schedules; for example, if your loved one needs someone there overnight.
- Help find another provider if the first one is not compatible.
- Offer a variety of choice for HHAs, covering a wide range of personalities and skill sets.
Other considerations you might want to look into before selecting an agency:
- Do they offer CDPAP, a New York-specific state program that enables
patients to designate a friend or family member to be their caregiver and
access Medicaid funding to pay for their time?
- Are they reachable 24/7 in case of an emergency?
- Is the HHA under the guidance of nurse supervisors?
- Do the providers undergo a thorough background check, including personal and work references?
- Does the agency conduct skills assessments and training and do they offer patient care education for their HHAs?
These are just of the few of the criteria that can help you select an agency and a Home Health Aide that will leave you feeling confident that your loved one is being properly cared for.
Want to know more about hiring a health care aide? Reach out to the professionals at Special Touch Home Care Services who can answer your questions and help you or your loved one find the assistance that is right for them.