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How Do I Make Sure That Home Health Care Is Quality Care?

In looking for a home health care agency, the following 20 questions can be used:

How long has the agency been serving this community? Does the agency have any printed brochures describing the services it offers and how much they cost? If so, get one. Is the agency an approved Medicare provider? Is the quality of care certified by a national accrediting body such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations? Does the agency have a current license to practice? Does the agency offer seniors a “Patients’ Bill of Rights” that describes the rights and responsibilities of both the agency and the senior being cared for? Does the agency write a plan of care for the patient (with input from the patient, his or her doctor and family), and update the plan as necessary? Does the care plan outline the patient’s course of treatment, describing the specific tasks to be performed by each caregiver? How closely do supervisors oversee care to ensure quality? Will agency caregivers keep family members informed about the kind of care their loved one is getting? Are agency staff members available around the clock, seven days a week, if necessary? Does the agency have a nursing supervisor available to provide on-call assistance 24 hours a day? How does the agency ensure patient confidentiality? How are agency caregivers hired and trained? What is the procedure for resolving problems when they occur, and who can I call with questions or complaints? How does the agency handle billing? Is there a sliding fee schedule based on ability to pay, and is financial assistance available to pay for services? Will the agency provide a list of references for its caregivers? Who does the agency call if the home health care worker cannot come when scheduled? What type of employee screening is done?

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