Our Clearwater home health agency mission is to create an environment where we set our team members up for success empowering them to provide the best in home care to the community.
EasyLiving Home Health Services Blog
Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
How to Select the Best Home Caregiver for an Elderly Relative
When you are preparing to hire a home caregiver to assist your loved one with managing at home, it is important to identify qualities of an effective caregiver. Sometimes when we interview or first get to know someone, personal biases affect our hiring decisions, ultimately leading to the wrong choice in picking the best home caregiver.
Behavioral interviewing is one of the most proven techniques to determine if someone really has the skills and qualities necessary for a job. It helps overcome the issue of being told what you want to hear, which is compounded by your biases. For example, as you chat with an interviewee, you learn they grew up near you or have a similar interest and veer off topic. You might end up with a “sense” that this is the best candidate, due to your comfort level and the person’s “likability”.
EasyLiving, Inc. uses specific techniques to select home caregivers for our team as follows:
- We start with a screening process in which we select home health aides with only top scores on their home health examinations (in addition to the state requirements, background checks, etc.).
- Then, we use behavioral interviewing to find out how caregivers will handle key home care situations, how they have worked in the past providing senior care or might apply previous knowledge to work as a home caregiver.
- We put each caregiver through our own comprehensive orientation and ongoing training program.
How do you conduct a home caregiver interview?
Behavioral interview questions typically begin with phrases such as… “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of when you had to…”, allowing home caregivers to demonstrate how they have handled certain situations and how they put ethics and skills in to practice when caregiving.
A behavioral interview for a home caregiver can be focused toward the specific situation of your aging parent. For example, ask the home care aide to describe a time when they have had a client who is not happy for them to be there and how they dealt with that. Or, find out about a time when they were working with a person with dementia who was asking to go home or anxious and wanting to leave. Rather than asking, “Are you generally on time?” you could ask, “Tell me about a time when you had an emergency with one client that caused you to be late for another client. How did you handle that (or would you handle that)?/What would you do first?”.
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Monday, January 9th, 2012
In our senior care experience, we have worked with many families to help determine ways their loved ones can stay safely and comfortably in their own homes. In our most recent blog series, we are covering some of the technologies and home care products to help seniors age in place (here is our first post, covering medication management and other home care technologies). Some additional categories of home health products include:
Durable Medical Equipment
There exists a wide variety of equipment for home safety, from shower chairs to specialty beds, mobility devices and more. Some items are covered by Medicare but rules are very specific for gaining coverage and how often items can be replaced. Medicare has a tool on their website to locate Medicare suppliers, for medical equipment, orthotics and more.
Most seniors’ homes are not built with universal design principals, unless perhaps they have moved in to a retirement community. Thus, making modifications to the home can often be useful for additional safety and practicality. Minor modifications are often an important part of falls prevention. This begins with small changes such as removing throw rugs, adding non-stick appliques in the bath/shower, reoranizing storage to put items within reach, etc.
Other important modifications include adding proper grab bars in the bathroom, lighting in stairs and the path to the bathroom at night, and possibly adding ramps or removing curbs. If a home has a bath/shower combo, it may be wise to change this to a shower stall or change out (or cut) the tub so it has an entry “door”. Download our free falls prevention home safety checklist to identify potential changes needed in the home to prevent unnecessary falls.
We have already covered home monitoring systems, which can be considered communications tools, especially those that send vital information to caregivers or doctors. However, there are a wide variety of communication tools that may enhance quality of life. Standard communication tools, from the basic mobile phone to computers with Skype/video calling and email capabilities as well as online support groups and communities can enhance socialization and access to information. A number of companies have developed communications tools geared specifically to seniors or individuals with vision or hearing impairments. Many technologies used by people every day are being adapted to health and care related needs, such as apps designed to track health or manage personal records.
A big category within communications technology is Electronic Medical Records or Personal Health Records. Aging Wisely’s blog contains a detailed review of these systems, including some important factors to analyze when considering setting up an electronic personal health record. The benefits of these systems are improving continuity of care via communicating accurate and timely information and assisting caregivers to better access and manage information. You may choose a system that helps your family members communicate updates and saves time for primary caregivers.
Senior Care Companies Using Technology to Provide Better, More Affordable Care
Within many eldercare companies, such technologies are helping improve customers’ experiences. For example, at EasyLiving, we invested in technology to enable our caregivers to access necessary information about clients, better manage scheduling and maximize our accountability to clients. Our personal client care plans are loaded in to our secure online system with tasks and key information communicated to any caregiver working with a client. Our caregivers check in and out of a client’s home via telephone, which immediately sends data to our system so we know about any problems quickly. Because our scheduling and billing is tied in with this, families and other responsible parties are assured of the accuracy of records.
Have a home care product or aging-in-place technology that you recommend or would like for us to review? Contact us.
Need immediate senior care help or caregiver advice? Call us any time at 727-448-0900.
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012
We often get asked about home health products, such as medical equipment, personal emergency response systems, medication dispensers and medical supplies. With our years of working with seniors in Pinellas County and Tampa Bay, we have a lot of experience with what works and what doesn’t. We also stay up to date on new trends and products to assist seniors to age in place safely. During 2012 and beyond, we will be dedicating a series of posts to this topic as well as reviewing aging in place technologies and products on our Easy Living and Aging Wisely blogs.
If you are a senior or a concerned family member with elderly parents, you might also want to check out EasyLiving’s Aging in Place Quiz and Seven Ways to Talk to Your Aging Parent about Getting Help at Home. Starting the conversation is often the toughest step. There are actually a lot of resources for seniors, but it can be complex to navigate through them and it is easy to be sold on choices that aren’t best for your loved one. When you face this scenario, a geriatric care manager’s assessment or consultation can be a valuable tool for your family.
As an introduction to home health products and aging in place technology, here is an overview of some of the categories of products available:
Personal Emergency Response Systems
Made popular by the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials many years ago, these systems now come in a wide variety of forms and with varying options. A basic push-button system (usually worn as a pendant or on the wrist) typically costs between $25-45/month for the monitoring/response service. There may be an installation fee, but often if you work through eldercare professionals like our EasyLiving team you can get that fee waived. Local aging agencies may also have discounted programs or fee help for low income seniors. System add-ons include check-in service (a call/check daily or more often), medication reminders, health monitoring (i.e. technology to take blood pressure, weight, blood sugar to track and send results to caregivers), and fall detection systems (i.e. a system that can detect a fall even if the person is unable to press the button).
Home Monitoring Systems
This category is tied to the personal emergency response systems, but involves a more complex set of options to monitor behavior, health, etc. on a more active basis. These may include sensors which monitor activity (i.e. has someone gotten up from bed, been in the bathroom, not moved about in a while) and may also include medication dispensing/monitoring and health monitoring as mentioned above. Some seniors do not like the idea of these systems due to feeling “watched” so it is important to introduce these the right way and involve your loved one in the decision process. Sometimes these systems can be very useful in combination with the human resources of caregivers. The monthly fees and installation on these systems are greater, but can reduce costs compared to moving to assisted living for example.
Medication Assistance Systems
The options here vary from as low tech as a simple pill box to electronic systems with locked medications which are dispensed with a reminder and may even notify a caregiver if medications are not taken in a timely fashion. There are also different packaging options for medication available at certain pharmacies, which can essentially help package the medications much like a pill box.
Our next post will go in to more depth about durable medical equipment for the home, communications tools, and home modifications/universal design.
EasyLiving, Inc. provides home health care and senior companion services to seniors in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. We make it our mission to help seniors age in place and be proactive in their health and care, as well as to educate and assist family caregivers. Contact us at 727-448-0900 for questions, concerns or senior care help today.
Wednesday, December 28th, 2011
This year we have produced a lot of content designed to help family caregivers and seniors. We hope our readers have found it useful as they embark on or continue their caregiving journey or seek to become more proactive with their healthcare and aging. We would love to hear from you about any topics and information you would like to see covered and how you prefer to get content. Contact us any time or complete our brief survey here.
Here are our 10 most popular eldercare blog posts from 2011:
EasyLiving, Inc. provides senior home care in Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida. With many years advocating for the rights of seniors and offering comprehensive eldercare services to families, we also make it our mission to educate, inform and be a resource to families as they care for aging parents and other relatives. Contact us at 727-448-0900 if you have an immediate question or concern.
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Planning a trip with someone who has limited mobility, requires a walker or wheelchair? Is Mom coming for a visit to see family, but doesn’t get around quite the same as before?
Here are our tips for a safe, smooth trip for someone who has limited mobility or health concerns:
- Know the rules and regulations. As the TSA changes rules and screening procedures, you might come up against unexpected difficulties so learn what to expect as best you can. Older individuals, those in wheelchairs, and those with medical devices are not immune to the scrutiny of security procedures. If your loved one has not traveled in a while, he or she may not be aware of packing restrictions, the need to remove shoes and jackets, etc. Help them to anticipate these procedures. Click here for the TSA’s information page and rules.
- Plan regarding medications. Do you have a carry-on supply for medications that need to be taken during the trip and a schedule to ensure medications are not missed? Does medication need to be taken with food or water? Has your loved one packed all the medications needed? (For lengthy trips, most insurance provides for early refills for a “vacation supply”.)
- Consider comfort in planning. Think about items that might make the journey more comfortable, from an extra sweater to a neck pillow to reading material or puzzle books. Also think about comfort in general trip planning. What route will be the least difficult (least layovers, time, most on-time flights), can you travel at less crowded times, what method of travel is best (i.e. would a car ride be easier for a relatively short trip vs. a flight)?
- Be realistic. Think about how easily your loved one tires, how well he or she can get around, and how much assistance might be needed in the bathroom, getting up and down from seats, etc. You can modify plans to minimize concerns, or consider hiring a trained home health aide as a travel companion (typically this senior companion could either travel with you or assist your relative from Point A to Point B on your behalf).
- Be very cautious if your loved one has memory deficits/dementia. Plan for someone to be an escort. The complexity of travel requires complex thinking, so even early stage Alzheimer’s can affect the ability to manage the situation (and so many unforeseen things can change regarding trip plans).
If you want to plan a special family vacation for your elderly loved one, there are different options that might be easier for someone with health challenges. For example, cruises can often accommodate mobility challenges, offer a variety of activities for all interests/needs and have a doctor on board. Shorter trips and close locations can still be special without the hassle of a long journey. Or, bring a family celebration to your elder!
EasyLiving can help you with our travel concierge services, arranging for a qualified home health aide to travel with your loved one and even assisting in travel arrangements to ensure the smoothest journey. Contact us for more information online or at 727-448-0900.
EasyLiving also offers local senior transportation services in Pinellas County, Florida and senior concierge aides to attend events, assist with holiday chores and more!
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