The Home Care Guide: Quality Care
How to manage and evaluate your home care aide
It's a relief to have finally arranged for home care for your parent or spouse.
But that's only half the battle.
Now, you need to make sure that all parties involved -- you, your parent and your home care aide -- are happy with the arrangement, that it's a reliable one, and that you're getting the quality of care you expect. By setting up a clear plan for managing and evaluating your care needs at the outset of the relationship, you'll get the best outcome and positive experience -- even if you have to make adjustments along the way.
Start Your Home Care Relationship Off on a Trial Basis.
One month is a good length for a trial, since your parent or spouse will need more than a week to adjust to the new routine and new person. Only after the adjustment period will you be able to tell if your parent is thriving in the arrangement.
Establish a Clear Process for Communication.
Do you prefer to communicate in person or by phone? Or a mix of both? What are your home care aide's preferences for how to be contacted? These are all questions and answers you should bring up at the outset of your relationship rather than on an as-needed basis. Emergency protocol and a backup plan (and a backup to the backup plan) are crucial elements of any good relationship between provider and employer.
Set Expectations on Updates.
Be sure to establish a plan and frequency for exchanging information.
Discuss Cancellations and Last-minute Changes in Advance.
Make sure you and the care provider are clear about these expectations.
Show up Unannounced for a Surprise Check-in.
Interviewing a provider is one thing, but actually observing the way the provider and your parent interact when they aren't expecting you can give you crucial information about how the relationship is evolving.
Don't be Afraid to Ask "Dumb Questions."
Many employers are afraid to ask the obvious, and therefore open themselves up to surprises or ambiguity about their home care reality. Ask, ask, and ask again! If you want to know if the home care aide washes her hands before helping your mother with her medication, ask. Your home care aide will most likely be more than forthcoming with the information, but may not think to automatically fill you in on the details -- or assume that you want to know. Don't be shy -- if she's professional, she'll be more than happy to help set your mind at ease.
The Bottom Line
You'll want to feel free to ask any questions you may have about the aide's care of your parent. After all, your parent is vulnerable and you want to be sure that she is receiving the best and most kindly given care available. Asking your questions will help keep the care provider on her toes in addition to reassuring and informing you.
Ronnie Friedland is an editor at Care.com. She has co-edited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.
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