Hospice volunteers are truly amazing people. Volunteers are an integral part of the interdisciplinary team of hospice professionals. Their job, once trained and ready to serve, can lead them in many different directions.
Whether you’re someone that needs hospice care, or you have an older relative that needs healthcare assistance in the home, it’s important to understand that before you look into having a qualified healthcare provider come into your home, you should know that there are a number of ways to assess just how good a service might be and what the qualifications of home health providers should be.
Aside from determining if a home health care agency is properly qualified, you need to know what to look for in a provider. There may be services that do not get the job done. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re deciding what to look for in a home health care provider.
You may hear the term “Private Caregivers” thrown around quite a bit when Home Health Care is mentioned. By all rights, you should. SO.. what are private caregivers,what is their main function, what do they cost and are they right for for my loved one?
What is a Private Caregiver?
By definition, a private caregiver (home) is a person, or sometimes a nurse that tends to someone, generally the elderly who have now reached a point where daily functionality has become an task they cannot complete, and they need assistance to handle the day to days, such as:
- Personal care – bathing / dressing, hygiene, transfers, and ambulation
- Meal prep and cleaning
- Medication reminders
- Possibly transportation needs
Private caregivers can generally be found through a local Home Health Care Service and can sometimes be covered by full coverage medical insurance or possibly if planned for, a medicare supplement insurance plan which covers home care needs in the plan.
It’s important to always find your private home caregiver from a reputable service. these caregivers have been properly trained and vetted for you and your loved ones protection. As technology has increased, it has been easy for independent caregivers, to advertise themselves to those in need. Sometimes at fairly deep discounted rates. This is a usual practice to prey on those who may not have coverage or cannot afford the current rates. Be cautious if you were to go this route, crime and theft among the aging is rampant. Mainly because the victim has no idea it’s even happening, secondly it’s due to lack of follow up by loved ones. Checking bank accounts, phone bills and grocery receipts on a regular basis is a great first step in protecting your loved one from any criminal activity in the first place, but using a fully licensed service with vetted staff reduces these possibilities greatly.
Understanding Hospice Care
Understanding hospice care can be difficult and confusing. One of the most important questions you can ask when faced with a serious or fatal illness, is how to care for that loved one. It is a question that should be taken seriously and only answered after much due diligence. One of the biggest mistakes family’s make is lack of preparation due to magnitude of the scenario. Remember, you are not alone, and there are options.
It is important to have a plan of action when dealing with a loved ones illness. How can you increase the quality of life? Who will be the primary caregiver? What are the expectant cost, and who will cover them? these are all valid questions, that should be planned for as soon as possible.
One of the first decisions, is who will be the main point of contact and speak for the loved one in care. This helps cut the confusion when others become involved and have questions themselves.
These decisions can be made more thoughtfully and with less stress if they are made when the loved one can make those decisions with you, so try to plan accordingly.
Know When Hospice Is Needed
There may or may not be a perfect time for hospice care. National averages show that hospice care is generally needed for about 20 days. Once again those 20 days are focused on quality of life.
It’s important to make the decision in a timely fashion, once you come to the conclusion the care is needed. If deciding when that time has come is difficult for you, then consider a few of these signs:
The health of the loved one is declining, symptoms of the illness are increasing thus reducing quality of life, your doctor recommends it is time for hospice.
Who To Discuss Hospice With
The first thing you will want to do is find a Hospice Specialist in Tucson or call Arista at 520-333-0333. You will walked through all of the options available to you and your loved one. Remember, not all hospice is the same, and you must always make a decision based on what’s best for your loved ones.
In-home senior care is an alternative to care in a nursing home. However, hiring a caregiver, especially if a full-time caregiver is needed, can be expensive, so paying for In Home Health Care in Arizona can be difficult. Medical insurance often does not provide for non-medical caregiver assistance. In the state of Arizona, it costs an average of $19/hr. to hire a non-medical caregiver and $22/hr. to hire a medical caregiver. This ranks Arizona as the 32nd most affordable state, adjusted for per capita median income.
State-Sponsored Programs Providing In-Home Care Assistance
Arizona Non-Medical, Home and Community-Based Services (NMHCBS) is a state-funded program intended to assist with the cost of providing non-medical services to seniors. The major criterion for eligibility is that the senior needs assistance with several aspects of daily living, such as bathing, grooming, eating, dressing, using the bathroom or mobility (like walking or getting from a wheelchair to a bed). Seniors with Alzheimer’s or severe physical disabilities often qualify for this program. The program is intended to enable seniors to receive in-home care rather than entering a nursing home.
Although there are no income or asset restrictions per se for eligibility for NMHCBS, recipients cannot be qualified to receive Medicaid services.
For more information in the Tucson area, call the helpline at the Pima Council on Aging.
If you’re a home-bound older person or you live with a disability, you may be eligible to receive meals. PCOA and its dedicated community partners will perform an in-home evaluation. For more information, visit the Pima Council on Aging, call 520-790-7262, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Medicaid-Related Program Options
Many states have Medicaid “diversion programs” to use Medicaid funds to provide eligible seniors the option of in-home care rather than entering a nursing home. Since federal Medicaid money is used for such programs, recipients are generally required to meet federal Medicaid eligibility requirements.
The AHCCCS, Arizona’s Medicaid administration unit, offers a Medicaid waiver program entitled “Arizona Long-Term Care System,” or ALTCS. The requirements are that the recipient be age 65 or older, have a disability, and require nursing home-level care. The program offers Medicaid-funded assistance to pay for in-home senior care as an alternative to a nursing home.
Paying for In Home Health Care in Arizona
There are many factors to consider when choosing in-home care for a senior. A major issue is cost, and to make the decision, it is important to know what state and federal funding help is available. Another important decision is whether in-home care or nursing home care is the best option for a given person. To discuss your home health care needs in the greater Tucson area, call our office at (520) 333-0333.
Needing Home Health Care is more common than ever. Seniors coping with a variety of health conditions use home health care. Seniors that suffer from a chronic disease that limits their ability to manage their health on their own or requires medical treatments that only a nurse can provide. Seniors that are recovering from an injury or sudden illness may also need home health care services to help them heal properly and recover some of the abilities they lost due to an injury or illness. The goal of home healthcare is to provide seniors with the immediate medical care they need while helping them gain the ability to care for themselves.
Needing Home Health Care
After a hospitalization, it is common for a senior to need a fair amount of assistance to fully recover. Seniors do not heal as fast as younger people do, and they are more susceptible to serious injuries from minor falls and accidents. They are also more prone to suffer from acute medical problems such as a stroke that can severely limit their physical abilities. In some cases, seniors may not be able to return to their home right away, but may need to stay in a rehabilitation center or nursing home during recovery to receive more intense medical care and treatments. Those seniors that are well enough to return to their home may still face significant challenges that require significant skilled nursing services or therapies.
Once a senior is well enough to return to their home a home health care agency should meet with them to fully evaluate what needs they have and recommend the services that will help them achieve as much independence as possible. This evaluation will also be based on the expected results of full recovery. A home healthcare agency will review a senior’s medical records and speak with the senior’s physician to help determine the types of services the senior can benefit from and what the realistic expectations and abilities the senior can work to regain.
Occupational Therapy for Seniors
One of the most helpful therapies seniors can receive from a home health care agency is occupational therapy. The name occupational therapy can seem a little misplaced when discussing a senior that has been retired for quite a long time, but it is really therapies to help a senior regain an ability to perform their tasks of daily living. Occupational therapists work to help seniors perform tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing, and using the toilet on their own again. There may need to be changes to a senior’s home to enable them to perform these tasks without the risk of injuring themselves. Occupational therapists also teach seniors to use assistive devices properly when necessary to compensate for lost abilities. Equipment such as walkers, adjustable toilet seats, and hospital beds may be necessary to help a senior perform daily tasks, but with the help of occupational therapists, seniors can often adapt to the needed changes.
Home health care is typically provided to seniors on a short-term basis. Medicare covers many of the home healthcare seniors often require, but there are restriction on the length of treatment by a home healthcare agency. Home healthcare agencies that participate with Medicare are well aware of the restrictions Medicare puts in place and will design their care plan with the financial aspect of the treatment in mind.
One of the most common questions in our industry is “What does Medicare cover” it’s asked daily. We at Arista, thought we would help with this by bringing you some of the answers directly from Medicare and Medicare rules on home health care.
If you qualify for the home health benefit, Medicare covers the following types of care:
- Skilled nursing services and home health services provided up to seven days a week for no more than eight hours per day and 28 hours per week (Medicare can cover up to 35 hours in unusual cases).
- Medicare pays in full for skilled nursing care, which includes services and care that can only be performed safely and effectively by a licensed nurse. Injections (and teaching patients to self-inject), tube feedings, catheter changes, observation and assessment of a patient’s condition, management and evaluation of a patient’s care plan, and wound care are examples of skilled nursing care that Medicare may cover.
- Medicare pays in full for a home health aide if you require skilled services. A home health aide provides personal care services including help with bathing, using the toilet, and dressing. If you ONLY require personal care, you do NOT qualify for the Medicare home care benefit.
- Skilled therapy services. Physical, speech and occupational therapy services that can only be performed safely by or under the supervision of a licensed therapist, and that are reasonable and necessary for treating your illness or injury. Physical therapy includes gait training and supervision of and training for exercises to regain movement and strength to a body area. Speech-language pathology services include exercises to regain and strengthen speech and language skills. Occupational therapy* helps you regain the ability to do usual daily activities by yourself, such as eating and putting on clothes. Medicare should pay for therapy services to maintain your condition and prevent you from getting worse as long as these services require the skill or supervision of a licensed therapist, regardless of your potential to improve.
- Medical social services. Medicare pays in full for services ordered by your doctor to help you with social and emotional concerns you have related to your illness. This might include counseling or help finding resources in your community.
- Medical supplies. Medicare pays in full for certain medical supplies provided by the Medicare-certified home health agency, such as wound dressings and catheters needed for your care.
- Durable medical equipment. Medicare pays 80% of its approved amount for certain pieces of medical equipment, such as a wheelchair or walker. You pay 20% coinsurance (plus up to 15% more if your home health agency does not accept “assignment”—accept the Medicare-approved amount for a service as payment in full).
One way for you to plan ahead for an older loved one’s health support is to shop around for the right long term care insurance plan. While private health insurance plans, Medicaid and Medicare may cover some related costs, these typically do not offer comprehensive coverage. Long-term care insurance supplements those programs so when you need to use it, you pay less out of pocket. AARP explains that long-term care is not considered a medical expense, which leads to coverage gaps or commonly called the doughnut hole.
Some of these additional insurance plans can also be quite pricey, however. There are many financial institutes across the country that offer these kind of programs – you should take time to research several companies and the kind of plans they offer to ensure you can comfortably pay the monthly premiums while still getting the coverage you want your loved one to have.
It’s also important to note that prices on these policies tend to increase as a person ages. If you want to invest in long-term health insurance, you shouldn’t wait until your loved one ages for several more years or develops a serious health concern. The younger and healthier someone is, the lower those premiums will be.
Theres absolutely no shortage of long term care insurers available to us. Starting with the earlier mentioned AARP, to lesser known insurers around the globe. After checking with the AALTCI, we found some interesting stats:
The average applicant for long term care insurance is 55-64, as stated before, the earlier the better.
Daily Benefit amounts range, but $99-$200 per day seems to be the average.
The highest percent claimant age group, is 80 yrs old and above.
Though these stats will vary, it still shows the importance of additional care in this age of healthier longer life. In future articles, Arista will be sharing what you should look for in home health care and hospice care.
Home Health Care cost, or long term care, can be one of the most expensive endeavors you or a loved one must manage.
While most seniors have a plan in place to handle such needs for themselves through retirement, be it through retirement or pension programs, 401(k)’s or even a personal savings account, the costs of long-term care are usually unaccounted for or not even thought of. As a result, many seniors who end up needing this specialized care don’t have the money to fund a long term plan.
If our seniors don’t have enough to cover such debt, their family and loved ones usually end up having to cover the cost. These cost can range from $1,400.00 to $7,500.00 per month depending on many different factors, such as: is it home healthcare, or private facility care.
Statistically speaking, nearly 70% of all seniors will need some sort of at home, or extended stay care once past the age of 65.
Rather than taking that risk, adults and their family’s should start to save money for these needs before the time comes. Home health care cost should never dictate quality of care, but unfortunately, it is a large factor.
Generally though, family’s don’t start thinking about these options until it’s too late or they start and there’s never enough. There are long term care insurance plans that can be purchased later in life which can cover some of theses needs. Like most insurances though, the sooner you start, the lower the premium, most premiums are for life, so don’t wait. Over the course of the year, Arista will will be adding several tips to follow to not only choose a provider but to also tackle how to prepare for it.
“Long-term care is not considered a medical expense.” See our next article for some answers to this long term dilemma.