A recent report by the British Columbia Senior’s Advocate states that provincial government care for seniors is “short-staffed.”
According to the Senior’s Advocate, In one Metro Vancouver community, none of the publicly-subsidized seniors care homes meet provincial guidelines for staffing of nurses and support workers.
Critics point out the problem exists province-wide, including on Vancouver Island. Only 10 per cent of all public care homes in the province meet the guideline of 3.36 hours of staff time per patient per day for direct care like bathing and hygiene or help with eating and social interaction.
Luckily, private home-care providers can provide some relief for a straining public system. About 70 per cent of long-term residential care for seniors in British Columbia is delivered by non-government care providers.
The challenge for many families, however, is to determine how to choose the right private homecare provider.
10 Questions to Ask a Homecare Provider
There are at least 300 residential care, assisted living, home care, home support and home care providers across British Columbia. Which one is right for you?
To help you make the right decision we have come up with a list of 10 questions you can use to assess a homecare provider:
1. What services does your agency provide?
Some agencies provide very limited home care services. Other agencies provide a full range of services, including:
- Meal preparation
- Medication management
- Bathing and dressing
- Personal grooming
Some agencies also provide full-time home care for a chronic condition, personalized rehabilitation, as well as palliative nursing care.
Make Time for the Moments That Matter
Another benefit of working with an agency is that they will handle hiring, scheduling, and payroll.
This means you and your loved one can focus on getting the care you need.
2. How long have you been in business?
Choose an agency with a proven track record that can provide references and testimonials. Take time to check the references thoroughly. Ask for referrals from clients, doctors, and other medical professionals.
3. Is there a waiting list?
There is a senior care shortage in BC and other parts of Canada, so sometimes it can be hard to find a spot with a trustworthy private care provider.
However, you or your loved one might be in need of care in a sudden emergency. So, obviously it makes sense to choose an agency that doesn’t have a waiting list and can provide services immediately.
4. Will you create a personal care plan?
Try to find an agency that will send a nurse to meet with you, your family and your family doctor or gerontologist to create an individualized home health care plan.
A private home care agency should create a personal care plan that includes details about:
- specific care needs
- medical equipment
- input from your family doctor
The private care provider should also commit to updating the plan frequently.
5. Do licensed nurses plan and supervise care?
Ideally, a licensed Nursing Supervisor should evaluate the quality of your home care. A reputable agency will also ensure all caregivers should be supervised by nurses.
6. What qualifications do the caregivers have?
Make sure you are comfortable with the level of training and experience of the actual caregiver who will be in your home, taking care of you or your loved one.
A good agency will screen, interview and train their caregivers. To determine how they screen their caregivers, you can ask:
- How does the agency hire and train health care workers?
- Does the agency provide continuing education?
- What type of screening is done?
References and criminal records should always be checked by the agency prior to hiring.
7. Are your caregivers bonded and insured?
To protect you, caregivers, and the agency, a home care agency must only send caregivers who are bonded and insured to your home.
8. Do you provide 24/7 care?
Depending on your health need, you may require 24-hour care or to arrange care with very little notice. Make sure the agency you choose can accommodate your needs with flexibility and great service.
9. Is your agency inspected by an outside organization?
Accreditation Canada is a non-profit, independent group that provides health organizations with an external peer review to assess the quality of their services based on standards of excellence. If an agency is accredited, ask to see the results of the most recent survey.
10. What happens if we’re not happy?
Your loved one needs to be comfortable–and happy–with their caregiver. If you are dissatisfied, a reputable agency should be able to provide you with a different caregiver.