Are You Letting Strangers Into Your Parents’ Home?

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Questions to ask your home care provider

Remember the popular phrase you taught your kids -- Stranger danger, stranger danger?  Now you’re taking care of your parents, but stop and think about it, isn’t this phrase just as applicable?  The same parents who you remember as being strong, independent, and wise in their decision-making, they’ve slipped.  The first few times you noticed things weren’t quite right you probably denied it.  After a few more times you finally said something to them, and they denied it.  Now they simply attempt to hide it from you, never telling you what they aren’t doing well, like personal hygiene, skipping meals, forgetting to take their medicine.

So when enough is enough, knowing your mom and dad can no longer properly care for each other; and you simply cannot continue to work, juggle your own family obligations, and still make time to shop, prepare their meals and do their laundry – then you know it’s time to get outside help.

But outside help comes in so many shapes and forms, and in the end how can you tell what the best approach really is, and what might put you and your parents at risk?  After all, the risks can be fairly great.  Everything from the most obvious – physical abuse, neglect, or simply receiving poor and unreliable care – to the less apparent, which is when you discover their credit card has been maxed out and the person you found on Craigslist didn’t leave a trail of bread crumbs when they left town.

My advice – seek professionals and ask these important questions:

  • Are you a legitimate home care agency or simply a referral service?
  • Are your aides W-2 employees of your company rather than contractors? (think of tax and withholding issues, as well as workers’ comp and unemployment insurance coverage)
  • Do you perform thorough background checks and drug testing?
  • Are your aides bonded and insured?
  • Do you provide training and certification?
  • Will you prepare a needs assessment, safety check and develop a care plan?
  • Will you handle all the scheduling, and send a replacement if my regular aide can’t make it? (trust me, this is a lot bigger responsibility than people think)
  • Will the owner(s) make regular visits and calls to ensure things are going well, and adjust for changing needs?
  • What type of recordkeeping and cloud-based documentation and communication resources are in place, to document care and keep communication lines open with family members?

Remember, you get what you pay for.  Protect your loved ones and yourself by contracting with a professionally-established agency.  Get your parents the care they deserve.

Authored by Clayton Birney

Clayton and his wife Paula are owners of Arista Home Care Solutions, serving families throughout the greater Toledo area, including Lucas, Wood & Fulton counties in Ohio and Monroe and Lenawee counties in Michigan.  They are an active part of our community, having raised their six children locally, while regularly volunteering their time to help seniors and others in need.  Their goal, first and foremost, is to provide a personal level of professional care for every client they serve.

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