Choosing Home Healthcare: Expert Tips

by | Apr 27, 2022 | Caregiving | 0 comments

Dr. Jeanne Porter King, featuring Dan Franklin

Last week I discussed my personal journey with choosing home healthcare as a caregiver. Dan and his company Essential Healthcare have been such a blessing as my family cares for my mom.  Dan has so much knowledge that I know you will find useful. Happy reading!

– Dr. Jeanne

I started Essential Home Healthcare because I noticed a disparity in healthcare in the African American community, Hispanic communities, and low-income communities.  My mission is to provide equal opportunity home healthcare for all people, regardless of race or income.   I am honored to have the opportunity to provide some tips on choosing home healthcare. 

The  difference between home healthcare and home caregiving

Both are vital services that can ease the load of caregiving on your family, however, it is important that you choose a service that fits the needs of your loved one.  Home healthcare is having in-home medical care that includes nurses, doctors, physical therapists, medical advice, and the ability to prescribe and administer medicine, and check vitals. This is what my company  Essential Healthcare provides.  Often this service is vital for patients who are bedridden or have mobility issues and cannot get to health care providers without great difficulty.

Home caregiving usually involves providing bathing and grooming assistance, light housework, cooking, and laundry.  This is a great resource to ease some of the day-to-day stress of caregiving by assisting you with these tasks. Home caregiving does not involve the ability to administer medical care but can be extremely critical in enabling you as the main caregiver to maintain your work schedule and even helping your loved one retain some level of independence. 

Being honest about the state of the person you are caring for will help you decide what works best for your situation. In a future blog post, we will have the owner of a Hoe Caregiving agency share more about this option. 

For now, let’s learn a little more about Home Healthcare.

What to look for in a Home Healthcare Agency 

There are several things you should look for when choosing a home healthcare agency.

Are they knowledgeable? When working with Dr. Jeanne and her family, the first task we completed was a deep analysis of medical benefits. This helped her family become clear on what was covered with current benefits, any gaps, and a plan to address them.  When choosing an agency, look for one with an agency head and staff that has deep knowledge of how the healthcare system works.

How compassionate are they? Compassion is key to home healthcare. Paying attention to things such as how easy it is to get in touch with your care coordinator and nurses, the urgency of their response, and the care they show when you present an issue. Do you feel like they are truly invested in the care of your loved one? Or do you feel like a number? These things matter. It is important that you are honest about the agency’s capacity to meet your standards with regard to compassion and care. 

Are they fiscally responsible? A little-known fact is that there is a waiting period before the agency is paid out by insurance companies. They are oftentimes absorbing an average of $20,000 in upfront costs. It can be a dire circumstance if the company cannot foot this bill upfront.  Make sure to choose an agency that has demonstrated that they can meet this standard. The best way to do this is to ask the hard questions and research any red flags that indicate financial mismanagement. 

Do your goals align? At Essential Healthcare, we make sure to address the family’s goals for their loved one in addition to day-to-day medical care. Whether this is comfort, improved health, or healthier eating habits, it is important to know your goals.  For Dr. Jeanne and her family, the goals were mobility and independence for her mother, and we worked toward that goal as a team. You are on this journey together and it is vital that your agency understands your family’s goals and is willing to put together a plan to achieve them. 

Let’s talk Cost!

I understand the reality is that home healthcare can be a financial challenge. But it is one that can be navigated with knowledgeable resources. Medicare usually covers 80% while the out-of-pocket cost is 20%. This can be costly which can cause temptation to take advantage of a cheaper option such as  Medicare Advantage. I will say this ten times over, please rethink this. Imagine working for years, to pay into Medicare and not taking full advantage of the benefits it offers?

 Medicare is a top-tier benefit that you deserve to take advantage of. With Medicare, you have more options to choose doctors and hospitals, while Medicare Advantage works much like an HMO in which your options are limited.  Please do not shortchange yourself for discounted healthcare. Let’s move from a “survival” mindset approach to paying for healthcare and really consider what is best. My advice is to consider this cost in your family’s long-term financial planning strategy. 

Income disparity is a very real issue and many families cannot afford the out-of-pocket cost. There are programs that can help with this. If you fall within the qualifying income bracket, part or all of the 20% out-of-pocket is paid for by Medicaid. Having a home healthcare agency that has the knowledge and passion to advocate for you will ensure you can take advantage of these programs.

My goal is to make home healthcare accessible to everyone, it’s what drives me to do my job every day. If you don’t know something, please ask. There are so many resources available to you including myself that are willing to advocate for you. 

You can learn more about my agency in this brief video and at https://essentialhh.org/. No matter what you choose, my desire is for you to have the knowledge to make the right healthcare decisions for your family. 

-Dan

 Continue to follow our caregiving blog series at https://www.drjeanneporterking.com/blog

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