What you need to know about concierge-level home care
The word concierge has come a long way from its sole affiliation with the hotel industry. Today, it’s used to promote all kinds of services that provide a high level of personalized attention to customers’ needs.
Last month, I spoke to the nation’s largest gathering of home care providers about the concept of concierge home care services to our clients. And while the Affordable Care Act has our entire industry focused on quality and outcome-based care, linking customization to outcomes is both good business and the right thing to do.
It’s a no-brainer that each client — whether they’re recovering from surgery, suffering from dementia, have a terminal illness or simply aren’t mobile enough to cook or clean for themselves anymore — will require their own unique mix of services and levels of care.
But it’s more than just the client. His or her family, friends or other involved caregivers need the same kind of concierge-level support that can help them make the right decisions for their loved ones and get much-needed respite time.
What are the core elements of a ‘concierge’ level home care service? And what do you need to ask, understand and do before choosing the agency that can best meet your needs?
Findability. If you or a loved one needs care in the home, you need to be able to easily find a home care agency that provides services in their area. Nowadays, that search process happens online. How easily are you finding these agencies’ web sites through a search on Google, Yahoo or Bing?? How quickly do they respond to your email or call?
Inquiry Tools. Your loved one requires help with cleaning, cooking, laundry and errands. You call an agency you found online, but their web site isn’t specific about their services. During the call, you discover that the agency only offers private duty nursing, but your loved one doesn’t need that level of help. You’ve just wasted valuable time.
As you shop for an agency online, ask yourself: How do their web sites help you determine if the services offered are a good fit? Do they give you the facts you need to make an informed phone call? Do they offer a needs assessment form you can fill out in advance of a call or visit?
Detailed Assessment. Does the agency ask for an in-person meeting to really listen to your needs? Do they visit the home of the person requiring care? Do they offer to develop a plan of care as part of their services?
Condition-Specific Services. If your loved one has a terminal illness, does the agency offer Hospice? If he/she has dementia or Alzheimer’s or a brain injury, does the agency have specially trained and certified staff that can manage these conditions? If your loved one is being discharged from a hospital to their home, how will the agency manage the transition? If they have specific conditions, you need to know the agency has the right people with the right training and expertise.
Flexibility. If your loved one needs 24/7/365 support, does the agency have a deep enough bench of caregivers to provide continuity? How about one-hour-at-a-time services? If there’s an emergency or your loved one suddenly needs a higher level of care, how fast can the agency respond? Understand how the agency manages its caregivers’ schedules for both planned and unplanned visits.
Communication. How often, and by what methods, do you expect that the agency’s caregivers and management provide you with updates on your loved one? For example, if he or she falls ill or if their condition deteriorates, will the caregiver call you immediately? How often do they provide formal reports?
Costs and Payment. Does the agency help you determine what your payment options are? Connect you to government programs you may qualify for? How do they work with employee insurance plans and long-term care insurance programs?
Community Connections. How does the agency coordinate with other complimentary supports, e.g. meal services, that are available in your community?
Once a home care agency has answered the above questions to your satisfaction, it’s important to provide them with all the information they need to develop a concierge-level care plan. It’s this attention to detail, along with your frequent communication with the agency, that will help ensure your loved one’s well-being and your peace of mind.
Connect with Kevin Smith at email@example.com, (617) 773-5800×17 or @BestofCare.
This article written by Kevin Smith, Vice President, Best of Care
Professional Home Caregivers – The Most ‘Essential Personnel’
Time to brace for New England’s unpredictable weather. What’s on the meteorologic menu this season? Some predict a milder-than-normal winter. But anyone who has lived here for long knows we’ll likely get snowed in at least once.
During last February’s Winter Storm Nemo, Governor Deval Patrick took heat for imposing severe penalties to keep non-essential personnel off the road. But if you’re not able to reach the bathroom or prepare a meal without outside help, how would you have felt about the Governor’s sweeping mandate?
Here’s the problem: the usual definition of ‘essential personnel’ usually omits a huge (and growing) category of workers: those who must travel to the homes of elderly or disabled residents who are physically or mentally not able to care for themselves.
For years, the 15,000+ home health and hospice care agencies across the U.S., who employ more than 1.8 million home care workers, have taken the U.S. Postal Service slogan one better. It’s not mail they’re delivering though – it’s the safety, health, comfort and peace of mind of those who depend on their caregiver’s daily visit.
Fortunately, laws that govern emergencies are beginning to catch up with the reality that our homebound residents can’t wait for help. Last month, New York State introduced a bill to declare home care workers ‘essential personnel’ during disasters such as Superstorm Sandy. The legislation would extend their reach to vulnerable patients with services, supplies or to help with evacuation.
Winter’s almost here. If you’re with me on this issue, take action. Talk to your local and state elected representatives. Let’s adapt our crisis plans to provide home caregivers easier access to those who desperately need support.
You can also do your part to support elderly and disabled residents in your neighborhood and community. If you suspect a homebound neighbor is in trouble, don’t wait to act. Your visit, or emergency call, may save their life.
Kevin Smith is the President of Best of Care, Inc., a home health care and hospice agency that serves 115 towns in Massachusetts’, Greater Boston, South Shore, and North Shore communities.