Would it surprise you to know nearly one million Canadians rely on some kind of in-home care today? An additional 500,000 are expected to need it before the end of this decade.
If you’ve never had to look into home care for a loved one, it’s important to know it should involve more than just picking a name or company from a “catalogue,” like you’d buy a book or a new coffee mug. Each person’s caregiving needs are unique, and no one-size-fits-all care plan works for everyone.
The process of choosing in-home care for your loved one requires some planning and different factors to consider. When choosing a homecare company, ask lots of questions. Here are a few things to ask or consider that will help you create a more sustainable in-home care plan for you or your loved one:
1. Ask for a needs assessment
Every reputable home care company should perform an independent health and needs assessment. You can also let the them know what you need help with. Start by sharing where you think your loved one needs help. They may only need a daily check-in to ensure they’re taking their medicine, a 2-hour daily visit to help with domestic tasks, or full-time medical support and care. Also, be sure to discuss any potential changes in their care needs for the future.
This needs assessment will help them assign the right caregiver, ensuring they have the skills required for the job and provide you with a care plan and quote.
During your needs assessment, be sure to ask all the right questions.
2. Consider Home Safety and Accessibility
Ask for any advice they may have to make your loved ones’ home as safe as possible. If the loved one struggles to get around, they may require someone to install railings and other safety devices around the home.
Perhaps your loved one needs special equipment (such as a medical bed or a dialysis machine). Make sure caregivers understand how to safely use it and ensure the equipment is maintained in good working order (like checking that power cords don’t become a tripping hazard).
In some cases, in-home care may not be enough for your loved one. Read more on the differences between home care vs long-term care facilities or ask your prospective in-home caregiver for their advice.
3. Have a budget
Go into any prospective home care interview with an idea of your budget for care. If they suggests a customized care plan over your budget, they can likely recommend funding sources or programs to help offset your costs. Depending on Provincial and Federal programs, you may be able to get long-term care insurance, government assistance, or borrow against your home if necessary.
If you still can’t afford it, ask about partial care plans to cover just the essential elements of caregiving you need.
4. Know what care types you need
What prompted you to seek in-home care for your loved one? This may indicate what kinds of services you need and for how long.
For example, suppose your loved one just underwent surgery and will be bed-bound at home while they heal. In that case, you may require care for two to three months that includes daytime nursing support (because a family member can support the patient overnight) and domestic assistance. If it’s for an elderly patient who is confidently mobile but has dementia, they may only need a daily check-in for companionship and to ensure they’re taking their medication and not forgetting important home safety and domestic tasks.
(Learn more about other in-home caregiver services available for your loved one)
5. Where to choose a caregiver from
You can hire a professional caregiver as an independent contractor or agency or have family members provide the care. Whomever you choose, ensure they have the knowledge and experience to provide the care needed.
For example, if your loved one requires daily injections, you may feel more comfortable with a registered nurse providing medications than a family member.
Get more tips on choosing the right caregiver for your loved one.
6. Prepare relevant legal documentation
Once you have been assigned a caregiver,, share any pertinent medical and legal information about your loved ones. The caregiver must understand their preferences for power of attorney, advanced directives and even religious beliefs (if it affects care for the patient while living or upon their death if the caregiver is present).
Talk to your lawyer for advice regarding legal matters for power of attorney documents and wills.
7. Be considerate of their quality of Life
Ask a prospective caregiver how they can help your loved one maintain a good quality of life. Providing reliable companionship can greatly benefit socially isolated seniors receiving in-home care. They come to expect the caregiver, which often boosts their mood and mental well-being.
If your loved one is still of sound mind, ask them what areas of their quality of life are most important to maintain. For example, they may be an avid cook and still want to make their meals (but they may need help reaching cooking supplies or reading cookbooks). They may desire to be as mobile as possible, so you can ask about getting extra safety equipment around the home to support this.
Learn more about how in-home care can enhance the mental well-being of seniors.
8. Plan for communication and family support
How amicable is your loved one in receiving in-home support? They may feel resistant at first, so consider how you’ll let your loved one know you think they need care. The transition can be challenging for some, so ensure clear communication between caregivers and your loved one. You could consider starting with only the most essential support and adding services later as they get more comfortable. Or you may provide some care yourself to start.
Be sure they know how to contact you in the event of any sudden changes in health or for emergencies. Share all relevant contacts and procedures you expect a caregiver to follow for emergencies.
10. Don’t forget your well-being
If you choose to be your loved one’s caregiver full- or part-time, it’s important not to forget about your own physical and mental well-being. Make sure you take time for yourself and get regular relief from caregiving duties so you can take care of the rest of your family and yourself.
Hero Home Care offers free in-home Care Consults with families. We’ll complete a needs assessment and create a personalized home care plan tailored to your loved one and family. Book your free consultation today.