Friday, October 10, 2014

Hiring a home health care worker--not easy

Kurt Kazanowski, a hospice, home care, health system expert and author of 7 Pillars of Growth for Hospice and Home Care, says exploitation of the elderly in their homes is a growing problem.

My sister and I cared for our mother for 18 years after her memory faltered. She was in two large assisted care places, and two accredited private homes with a couple of "memory" residents living with a family. She could not stay with either of us because we had pets and she hated animals.

Before this, our father had a stroke and was wheelchair-bound for 10 years, cared for in his home by home health care aides. He had one aide during the day, a second to manage bathing him, and then he was tucked in for the night--then the aide came again in the morning.

My mother was not able to manage these tasks. In fact, the aides also catered to her.

The aides ranged in ability and honesty. For instance, some valuables "walked." Another aide tried to sue for a hurt back. Some came from agencies, some from ads we placed.

Kazanowski recommends using an agency--ask if they do a national criminal background check, as well as a motor vehicle review every six months.

See if the agency does regular quality checks--this is an unannounced spot check.

Ask to meet the caregiver before he or she comes to your home. Speak to the families of other patients.

And--this is crucial, we found--do your own spot checks--we called them pop-ins. Is your loved one clean, groomed, clean clothes, even makeup in the case of women. We took Mom for weekly hair appts and out to lunch once a week as well. We sometimes ate with her at her place, too.

Still, we had issues over the 18 years. Even if you live in town with your loved one, this is not easy. You really can't turn this over to anyone.

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