Selecting a Home Care or Hospice Agency
If you've decided it's time for a home care or hospice agency, you've probably looked in the phone book or typed "home care agencies" into a web search engine. You came up with hundreds of choices serving the area where your loved one lives. It's overwhelming. But you can take steps to narrow down your search.
First, just like shopping for anything else, ask your family and trusted friends for recommendations. If you are a member of a faith community, the leadership may be familiar with agencies. Your physician certainly knows of good, high-quality agencies in the area. Family members and friends may have been patients of an agency. Find out who all these people recommend and why.
If you're online already, go to the Visiting Nurse Associations of America website at VNAA.org, click on "About VNAA," and you'll see a menu including "Find a VNA." That will help you locate a Visiting Nurse Association near you. You also can search agencies through the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization at nhpco.org.
Here are a few questions you should ask all prospective home care agencies:
- How long has the agency been in existence and how long it has served your community?
- How does the agency protects its worker? Do they have written policies and benefit packages? Do they require criminal background checks and communicable disease screening of employees? Do supervisors oversee care to ensure quality? Agencies that do so often attract the best employees.
- Does the agency offer printed material describing services and costs?
- Is the agency an approved Medicare provider? Is it accredited? That means their quality of care has been surveyed and approved by an outside accrediting organization.
- Is there a written plan of care for the patient's treatment? Do the patient, physician and family develop this? Is the plan frequently updated as the patient progresses?
- Is someone from the agency available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays? Is a nursing supervisor on call and available 24 hours a day?
- Who can you call with questions or complaints?
- How is billing handled?
When it comes to the health of a loved one, you want the best home care service. So choose the Visiting Nurse Association of America that’s committed to delivering extraordinary care and compassion.
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