It’s 4pm and your mother who lives with you just fell and injured herself and will not be able to take care of herself and you can’t take off the month it will require for her to be independent again; what do you do? Or, your elderly mother is worn out and cannot physically take care of your father whose health is quickly deteriorating and requires constant attention, what do you do? These are typical situations I address every day from distraught and distressed family members. No one really thinks about home care until they face the necessity of it.
Senior Home Care Options
But what’s a person to do? With the myriad of medical and non-medical care options available to seniors today, it’s no wonder their eyes glaze over when trying to narrow down their options relating to the types and level of in home or out of home care they need. Some of the options available today are nursing homes, assisted living facilities, independent living communities, home health care, hospice, non-medical home care, personal assistance services, sitter services, private duty caregivers, and we are even seeing a resurgence of doctors that make house calls. To add to the confusion some services are covered by health care insurance, some are covered by Medicare or Medicaid, some are covered by long term care insurance, some are covered by state or local assistance programs and some must be paid by the consumer themselves. Because this topic encompasses such a large volume of information, I will be narrowing the scope of this article down to non-medical, in home senior care.
Non-medical home care primarily includes the broad categories of personal care, homemaking and companionship. Some of the most common needs that clients have are with activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation or toileting. The purpose of enlisting in home care is usually to allow clients to remain safe and comfortable in their own homes; however, we are also seeing in home care becoming a more popular alternative to nursing homes, assisted living communities and other types of facilities. Moreover, lately we are seeing an increase in clients that are looking for senior home care agencies to provide service in various types of facilities as well.
Licensed vs Unlicensed Home Care Agencies
Within the non-medical home care community there are usually two sub-types of agencies. One type of agency is licensed by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission as a personal assistance service (PAS) agency and can typically provide all three broad categories of care: personal care, homemaking and companionship. The PAS licensed agency can provide routine ongoing care or services required by an individual in a residence or independent living environment that enable the individual to engage in the activities of daily living or to perform the physical functions required for independent living, including respite services. The types of services that fall under personal care are bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, exercising, toileting, positioning, assisting with self-administered medications, routine hair and skin care and transfer or ambulation.
The other type of non-medical home care agency is one that is not licensed by Texas HHSC and can only legally provide service in the categories of homemaking and companionship. There is a very distinct difference in the two types of agencies and some unlicensed agencies may use word games to confuse consumers into thinking they can do personal care that only licensed agencies can do. Their literature may say they can provide “personalized care” and the uninformed may not realize this agency may not be able to provide the personal care their family member really needs by a licensed agency.
As you can easily see, it’s a consumer jungle out there and for the novice it can easily get confusing. Your best bet is to engage the services of a trusted senior home care company.