When I was offered to write for this column I jumped at the opportunity. Why? Because it is a great opportunity to educate the General public about our health care system. Our health care system is changing rapidly, and it is extremely confusing on any given day let alone when you are elderly and have to balance multiple benefits programs such as Medicare part A, B, C, and or D. Trying to Figure out what you are covered for, what’s not covered, what your deductible is and what exactly your choices are in times of need? I want to be an advocate for our seniors who need to know the most up to date and current relative information on any health care issue that pertains to this age group. We need to do a better job in educating the consumer.
On that note let’s talk about Home Care. Home care is mostly used and required when a person is discharged from the hospital. I wrote an article about this a few month ago stating that by law all hospitals can only discharge to licensed Illinois department of public health agencies. That was legislation that I was personally involved in implementing with Senator Bill Cunningham and the Home Care Association of America, with the intent to protect consumers more especially our frail elderly from Illegal Unlicensed Agencies upon discharge for our hospitals.
Being the owner of a home care agency, I would like to explain that we must abide by all the laws in protecting both our clients and our caregivers. The nature of what we do can be misleading because it takes place in the home or wherever the senior calls Home. Many folks think that what we do is casual in nature and that the consumer can direct the selection of caregivers in the home however let me explain a little further why this is not possible.
Service plans are written between the agency and the client for their service needs and clients enter into a contractual agreement with the home care agencies to provide non-medical care to their loved one being discharged home. When using and hiring a full-service licensed home service agency, you as the consumer may NOT request or ask personal details regarding the caregiver being sent to your home. Care givers are scheduled to the home base on their skill set and capabilities to handle your needs. All caregivers are background checked across no less than 7 registries, in addition to being screened, Drug tested, Reference checked, Trained, supervised and continually monitored during their employ with these licensed agencies. When caregivers are hired to work in agencies, we must follow the same hiring procedures as any hospital, or other licensed state business. Therefor consumers cannot dictate the nationality, gender, nor race of their caregiver providing care. We are in the business of sending the most qualified caregiver and unfortunately, we don’t have endless caregivers to swap in and out when families say “I don’t want that caregiver “. We are dealing with humans’ here.
Here is some food for thought. When a patient is in a hospital and multiple services enter the room throughout the day does the patient get to select the race, gender, and nationality of those they encounter as part of their health care team? Doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, phlebotomists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, housekeeping and or janitors? Do all these entities have the same personalities? Absolutely not. Do they all talk the same, no they do not. Do they all do their jobs differently? Yes somewhat. Are all these employees trained to the hospitals standards and policies and procedures for compliance to the law? Yes, is the answer.
The reality is that you as the patient don’t get to select any of the employee’s providing care as you have entrusted the hospital hiring department to have done a good job.
Well Home care is the same, sometimes our caregivers do a stellar job, sometimes they do a mediocre job and sadly sometimes they don’t do such a good job. The same is true of the staff in any business. We are all dealing with humans and there are many variables here.
These are the challenges all licensed business owners face. We hire to the best of our ability following the laws in selecting from the pool of applicants that apply for health care positions in home health, home care and hospitals. We are all trying to meet the demand in our health care system currently. We are also experiencing a massive shortage of manpower with 10, 000 seniors turning 65 daily.
Just some things to consider when entering into a contract with licenses home care agencies. If you have any questions regarding the above, we are happy to assist you and help you understand the requirements that dictate what businesses here in Illinois must abide by for employee and consumer protection.