Each November, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) celebrates National Home Care and National Hospice Month to honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to caring for others. With 77 million baby boomers reaching retirement age by 2011 (representing approximately 25% of the population), the time to consider health care alternatives is now. Home care services provide much-needed care for a fraction of the cost of services provided in hospital ($132 per visit vs. $5,765 per day in hospital). In this economic climate, America’s home health industry is the beacon of light, providing dependable and affordable care, while enabling millions of patients to maintain the dignity and independence they value by being in their own homes.
“Helping the elderly [while they are in poor health] to remain as comfortable and happy as possible at home is NAHC’s main goal,” says Val Halamandaris, president and founder of NAHC. “Dedicated people spend their days taking care of those who can no longer care for themselves, making them silent heroes who should be recognized and thanked this month—and year round,” he continued.
In order to help people make the difficult decision regarding who will care for their loved ones in their final days, NAHC has compiled the following advice to help family members select the best home care provider and decide on the right time to consider hospice—to ensure their loved ones are being provided for properly.
WHEN CONSIDERING HOME CARE AND HOSPICE
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Care Provider:
1. How long has your company been in business?
2. What qualifications, certifications, experience and training do you require of your workers?
3. Are your employees insured and bonded?
4. How do you supervise your workers to make sure the proper care is given?
5. Will the same caregiver oversee my case consistently?
6. Do you conduct a home visit before starting the home care service?
7. Do you work with my doctor in developing a plan of care?
8. Can you provide me with some references (from doctors, hospital personnel and social workers)?
9. Has your company been involved in any lawsuits involving customer satisfaction?
When it is Time to Consider Home Care or Hospice:
1. The patient is consistently short of breath, unable to eat, sleeping excessively, and experiencing increasing pain.
2. The patient has started to withdraw from life and/or family and friends.
3. The doctor has stated that the patient’s condition is not curable and that there are no more medical options.
4. The patient has expressed they are ready to die but the family is not ready to let go.
5. The treatment the patient is receiving seems no longer to be helping or working but prolonging the inevitable.
6. Financial issues are becoming more challenging.
7. The patient is unable to do everyday chores such as dressing themselves, going to the toilet or bathing without assistance.
8. It is becoming harder for the caregiver to take care of the patient.
About Val Halamandaris and NAHC
Val J. Halamandaris is President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. Halamandaris is an acknowledged expert on home health, hospice and aging. Since 1982, he has advocated for the ill, dying and disabled and for those who provide their home-delivered health care. Previously, he served Congress as senior counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Aging, and as associate counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Aging. NAHC,is headquartered in Washington, DC, its mission is to encourage development and delivery of the highest quality medical, social and supportive services to the nation’s frail, disabled and aged. For more information, visit www.nahc.org.
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