Caring with Caregivers Tips
Did your doctor tell you that it is time to start home health? Maybe you’ve had a home health aide for some time but don’t feel like it’s working out. There are many tips on what to look for in an agency or a caregiver, but here are some tips to help with any caregiver situation. When using an agency, they may try to send the same caregiver every day, but it might not be possible. Here are some tips to help:
- When you set up services, tell them everything you want and need. There have been many times that the first caregiver on site was surprised because the family may have been too embarrassed to ask for what they needed. These are the professionals, they are not embarrassed by your needs, and they are bound to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy laws. The more information they have, the better suited they can be to take care of you.
- It takes time to match the best caregiver to a new client. Half of the difficulty of home health is matching the right caregiver to the right client. Agencies do not employ caregivers who are not good for the clients, but not everyone will match on personality, habits, beliefs, and communication.
- Be prepared to have a stranger in your home helping you. This is one of the hardest aspects in home health for the client and their family. It usually helps to have a list of things you want done before the caregiver shows up. Don’t be afraid to have specific instructions for any tasks you want done. If you want the trash taken out, write the instructions for someone who has never been in your house in a way that they could complete the task without anyone being home to ask questions. This is extremely helpful for the caregiver and the majority of the time; it is also appreciated by the caregiver. Remember, this is just as awkward for them as it is for you at first. They are used to it and can show confidence, but it really is still awkward.
- Stay in touch with the caregiver and agency. Agencies have a 24/7 number for you to contact them for urgent and emergency reasons. If something is important but not necessarily urgent, contact them during business hours. Agencies like it when family members are proactive and help to make sure everyone is informed.
- Keep a notebook. Agencies will usually keep a notebook in your house for caregivers to chart and communicate with each other. Don’t hesitate to add instructions, reminders, or additional notes you want the caregivers to read. For regulation reasons, it’s best to not put those notes mixed in with theirs, but sticky notes or additional paper is fine. They are required to keep those notes for state inspections, so anything you want to remain in the notebook should be on its own paper. Use MedsMinder to track meds usages.
- If there is a problem, mention it. Caregivers are coming into your home to take care of you or your family. If there is a problem with a caregiver, it is best to mention it. Usually it is an easy fix. Maybe the caregiver didn’t know you disliked something they did. It happens. If it is a problem that can’t be resolved, then they will bring in another caregiver. If the problem is with the agency, you are able to change to a different agency. Do realize that many agencies have a non-competition contract which means if you cancel the agency, there are fees for trying to hire their caregivers privately.
In the end, you have options if the situation is not working. In most cases, all that is needed is a slight adjustment and the only way that will happen is if the problem is known. Communication is key in a successful home health situation.