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
Monday, February 24th, 2014
Often when families are considering hiring help at home, they think “this should be simple, we just need someone who can do laundry and cook one meal/day (or…)”. The next thought may be to post a quick ad, or maybe even ask a student to do these tasks in exchange for room and board. But, what if it doesn’t turn out to be so simple?
In our quest to help families through various aspects of eldercare, we make education a priority. You can read a number of articles we have written to explain costs of home care, home health agency regulations and our “home care questions” series. Today we will address some of the unasked questions and considerations you should think about before jumping in to hiring a home caregiver.
When considering the scenario above, ask yourself:
- What protections do we have? If there is one “purchase” you should be most cautious about, it is hiring care for your loved ones. Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong and this is not an area to take lightly. What if the hired caregiver hurts herself on the job? What if he steals from Mom (or you aren’t sure if this is a result of Mom’s increasing paranoia from her dementia)?
- Am I prepared to be the boss, HR manager and more? In the hiring process, you will need to do your due diligence, whether hiring someone privately or through an agency. The big difference is that if you find an agency you can trust, they can then handle a lot of tasks for you and be accountable for all issues that arise (which by no means negates that you will be closely involved). Some of the tasks involved in managing a home caregiver include: hiring/screening, payroll and taxes, ensuring protections like worker’s compensation insurance and liability coverage, dealing with absences/finding substitute care, training and care planning, monitoring care and safety and troubleshooting problems. People often don’t think about how stressful it can be to deal with the many issues that arise. This is all made 100 times harder to do from a distance.
- What kind of quality do you expect for your aging parent? You may first think the tasks and needs are simple, but do you really want an untrained, unqualified person helping? OR…do you want a person who has been trained in lifting techniques and safety? Someone who has learned tips on helping with hygiene and how to give a “dignified” bath? Someone who has completed training on issues like elder nutrition and dementia care? What about someone who chose a career with elders because they truly enjoy it and who has gained a lot of experience helping other elders/families?
With an agency like EasyLiving, you get a team approach to home care. What does that mean and how does your family benefit?
- Our team works closely with your family, handling all of the issues mentioned above so you can focus on being family. We take responsibility for concerns, and proactively monitor and address them (for example, by having a Client Care and Safety Supervisor, who makes field visits).
- You get all the protections of a licensed home health agency (background screening, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, state regulations/reviews) along with our steps to go above and beyond (extra hiring screening and test requirements, paid comprehensive staff training, quality assurance through an independent agency and our in-house supervisor/coaching sessions). We do things like using a telephone-based clock-in system, so we know within a few minutes if a caregiver does not show up for a shift and have computerized records of all shifts. Our Senior Care Consultant talks with and visits all families considering our services to go over how we can help and offer solutions and input. Our Client Care and Safety Coordinator conducts field visits to coach caregivers on ways to improve care and safety. We offer ongoing, paid caregiver training and do regular coaching/review sessions with each caregiver.
- You aren’t relying on only one person. As good as that person may be, things happen. The caregiver may get sick or need some leave to deal with an ill family member. Your loved one may need more care than one person can handle (or special skills that this person does not have). At EasyLiving, we create a detailed care plan that lets other caregivers step in when needed and we typically have a couple (or more, depending on the number of hours of care) people who meet the client and assist over time so that more than one caregiver knows your Mom or Dad.
- You get a professional team who understands coordinating with all involved parties (family members, care managers, medical and other care providers). We understand our roles (as well as our boundaries) and how we can help the overall care team bring better results to your loved one. Everyone that should be kept in the loop is and we can adjust our care plan as needs change (adding medication management if the doctor feels help is needed now, changing hours to better coordinate with appointments or Medicare Home Health visits, taking suggestions from family and care managers).
We don’t like to sound negative, but we know it’s much worse not to be prepared. When you first have that thought about getting Mom or Dad some help, it might sound simple. But, do yourself a favor and think about all aspects of the situation (and what could change or go wrong). Too often we hear from people who didn’t and regret it.
Contact Susan Talbott, EasyLiving’s Senior Care Consultant, today at 727-448-0900 to discuss your eldercare needs and how we can help. Sue can provide a complimentary visit to discuss your situation in person and offer you invaluable advice.
Monday, February 17th, 2014
Medical treatment is generally given in relative isolation. A patient is seen by a doctor in the office or hospital and various interventions are done or prescribed. The physician often has to rely on the patient for history and reporting, along with the use of diagnostic tools and techniques.
For geriatric care, in particular, this presents a number of challenges. Patients of all ages (and for a variety of reasons) can be poor reporters; elderly patients with memory problems or cognitive impairment may be especially inaccurate in their reporting as well as compliance. Additionally, elders may have many aspects of their lives influencing their ability to be compliant or negatively effecting their healing.
Here are a few example stories of how geriatric care carried out in this traditional manner can be problematic:
Mrs. Smith takes several medications. Her doctor starts her on new eye drops at her most recent visit. She fills the prescription right away and takes the eye drops home, but a couple days later she confuses the new drops with her old drops and discards them. She continues taking the drops on the schedule the doctor wrote down for her (after discovering last time that she seemed confused by when and how she was supposed to take them), but unfortunately she is taking the old drops. For this reason, her lab tests do not appear to be improving on the next visit and the doctor is puzzled. She is also having trouble remembering to take one medication, which is the only one she takes as mid-day. When she realizes she hasn’t taken it she usually just takes it along with the evening dose. She has gotten sick to her stomach several times from this, but has reported to her daughter that she had a “stomach bug”.
Mr. Jones is a cardiac patient. He is on a good regimen for his heart issues as well as blood pressure medication. His doctor advises a low sodium diet and gave him some literature on it. Mr. Jones’ wife died about 6 months ago and she did all the cooking. Since she died, he appears to be coping well but he has stopped going to church activities (their main activity outside the house) and is sleeping a lot. He usually has a pot of coffee for breakfast, a can of soup and some saltines for lunch and either a frozen meal or Chinese delivery for dinner.
Mr. and Mrs. Yates have been married for over 50 years and live alone in a home on the beach. Mr. Yates has early Alzheimer’s, which Mrs. Yates is having a hard time accepting. She gets irritated with him for repeating things and has started to yell at him a lot. Their daughter convinced them to visit a memory clinic, where he was given a diagnosis and started on medication which can slow the progress and improve functioning. They also recommended a driving assessment be scheduled. Mrs. Yates lets Mr. Yates handle his own medicines and his daughter doesn’t think he’s taking the new medication. He does not take anything else right now, but he also seems to be having difficulty managing his hygiene. Mrs. Yates has also refused the driving assessment, as she states they mainly go places together or he goes to familiar places (though he has already gotten lost two times, fortunately only for a short time). Mrs. Yates has diabetes and blood pressure problems and her health seems to be worsening under the stress. She has also passed out two times, but has not said anything to anyone (her daughter is noting more bruises and that Mom appears to be losing weight).
Medicare home healthcare offers some in-home services to support medical treatment for elders, with short-term interventions. Because many of the lifestyle factors involved in the stories above are ongoing/non-medical issues, a private duty home care company like EasyLiving can help elders improve their outcomes. Some of the primary services that support an effective treatment plan include:
- Nutrition support (shopping, meal prep, meal planning for special diets and likes/dislikes)
- Medication management (R.N. supervision and set-up, reminders from trained home health aides, monitoring and reporting)
- Help with daily care (hygiene, gentle reminders, safety support, stress relief for caregivers)
- Companionship/helping clients stay active and engaged
- Assistance with errands, appointments and senior transportation
- Home safety and aging-in-place support (monitoring any concerns, helping with transfers and fall prevention, serving as an extra set of “eyes and ears”)
- Care management through our Aging Wisely advocacy team: assessments to gain a better understanding of the underlying issues, tailored recommendations and care coordination
If you see similar issues in your aging parent or work with patients who you know could use lifestyle interventions to support their well-being, give us a call today at 727-448-0900. We’re here to help!
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
We’re so proud of our team, especially for a number of recent awards and acknowledgments. Last week, EasyLiving was named Clearwater’s Medium Sized Business of the Year. This award means a lot to our team as we are highly dedicated to the local Clearwater community and proud of the supportive business community here. One of our biggest accomplishments as a team is being able to employ so many local residents and help them succeed and improve in their careers. That’s why we were especially happy again this year to be chosen as one of the Best of Home Care Employers of Choice. We continue to seek out new ways we can better support our team to succeed.
Because of these efforts, EasyLiving was also recently featured in an Inc. Magazine article about how focusing on your employees can lead to success. This article gives some insight in to the day-to-day process of creating that success.
We think the secret to providing quality home care (or any service, for that matter) is simple…it’s all in the team! Hiring the best, training the best, and doing all the little things that help the team succeed on a daily basis. When we make a mistake, we see it as a great learning experience. What can we do better next time? What process or tool was missing that caused a glitch? What do we need to add to training so those types of mistakes don’t happen?
Of course, when we say the secret is simple, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take hard work and commitment. We always have to go back to our mission to ensure what we are doing centers around setting our team up for success. It’s easy for any business to stray from their mission. And, what may seem like a brilliant idea to help or reward your team may not turn out to really work for them. Or, it may take time to develop. A great example is our iCaRewards™ program, in which employees earn points for many positive behaviors (such as attending trainings/events, taking an extra shift, getting kudos from a client, or referring a friend) which they redeem for gift cards/prizes. Our employees always thought this was a great idea, but it took a little while for the enthusiasm to catch on and the excitement to build. This initiative goes hand-in-hand with our other employee initiatives, and the complete package shows our employees how much they are really valued.
There will also be people who just don’t fit with your team. In a business like home health care, it is tempting to hire/keep anyone who is qualified, because the need for service often outpaces the available workforce. We know this is a big mistake. EasyLiving’s policy requires our home health aides to score above 90% on their test to be considered for employment, so we know they’re all “A students”. But, our process goes beyond this as we use a profile that helps ensure potential team members also share the work ethic and ideals we know are keys to this work. The next step after hiring is a specially-designed orientation process, which is the first in a line of many training and development opportunities for our employees. When we first entered our industry, we were surprised to learn that many companies expected employees to attend training on their own time. We decided from the start that we’d offer a comprehensive program and pay our employees to attend (and now get reward points too).
As time has gone on, we continue to find ways we need to improve. Within the last year, we added a Client Care Supervisor position because we realized how vital it is that we get out in the field with our caregivers consistently. This position focuses on safety training and mentoring. Our initial intake process and this ongoing field supervision also help us create (and update) our clients’ care plans in a very personalized way. How can we expect our caregivers to give the best service to clients if they don’t know the specifics of what a client wants (and his/her background, needs, etc.)? We know the little things matter to clients, so we get the information to enable our caregivers to succeed. Does Mrs. Brown prefer a late breakfast which always consists of oatmeal and black coffee? Does Mr. Jones prefer his bed be made up immediately upon waking? And, what does Mr. Smith like to do and enjoy talking about? Our care plans are about a lot more than “Give a bath.” They’re about all the little things that will help our caregivers provide what the client really wants.
Do you have a story to share about quality home care? What do you think makes a good employer or is key to a company succeeding in service? Feel free to share your comments on our Facebook page or contact us.
Does EasyLiving sound like a place you’d like to work? Check out our Home Care Careers page.
Contact us at 727-448-0900 for help with high quality home care services in Pinellas and Pasco counties. We can help with everything from senior transportation to hospital after-care and daily assistance at home…all with the best service tailored to meet your needs.
Monday, January 27th, 2014
Our EasyLiving team is serious about quality assurance and continual improvement in home healthcare. We work closely with an independent quality assurance company, Home Care Pulse, to monitor how we are doing on key measures. Once again this year, EasyLiving has been named a Best of Home Care agency. Home Care Pulse surveys our clients and caregivers to get specific feedback on how we are doing in various areas, such as how our management staff supports our caregivers and how our caregivers serve our clients in terms of everything from knowledge to timeliness and appropriateness of dress. This continual feedback allows us to spot areas for improvement immediately. Our team reviews this feedback every month and makes changes as needed.
We are particularly pleased to have achieved the Best of Home Care Employer of Choice award for 2014. Our mission is to create environment where we set our team members up for success empowering them to provide the best in home care to the community. This mission dictates our every day decisions, as we focus on how we can set up our caregivers for success. It is good to see that we are achieving this mission, though we consider it to be a work-in-progress. By providing the best support to our caregivers, they then achieve the best quality care for clients, as reflected in our Best of Home Care Provider of Choice award.
The process we use to achieve our mission is to hire, train and support our caregivers in the best ways possible. We start with a stringent hiring process (in addition to the usual background checks, we require a 90% or better score on the home health test and use an assessment to ensure a good fit for our team and this type of work). After finding a caregiver who has great potential, they become part of the EasyLiving team through our unique orientation process. This is also the time when we get to know our new team members and their specific skills and strengths. Here’s one of the fun photos we take at orientation, where caregivers show off some of the diverse things they bring to our clients:
Unfortunately, in the senior care industry, support often fizzles out after that. We decided from the start that we would do things differently. For example, we provide a regular schedule of in-house training and we pay our caregivers for time to attend. We also give them special reward points for attending training sessions (and other positive qualities/behaviors, like helping out with an extra shift, getting great feedback from a client or referring a friend to EasyLiving for employment). Because our mission revolves around our human resources, we put a lot of time and effort in to developing our people. We have a Human Resources Recruiter as well as a Client Care and Safety Coordinator (who conducts field visits) in addition to our Staffing Director and Director of Operations who are focused on developing and supporting the best team. Read more about our caregiver team support.
If you would like to know more about our mission and the ways we work to achieve it, check out our Executive Director, Alex Chamberlain sharing a message about our home health mission.
You can also check out our previous article on our Home Health Quality Assurance measures, in which we share why we collect this feedback, what we do with it and questions you should ask when hiring a home health agency.
To experience our top quality home care for yourself, give us a call at 727-448-0900 (our Senior Care Consultant will come out to visit with you and your family, free of charge, to advise you on options and help create a home care plan that’s right for you) or visit our Home Health Careers page for job opportunities.
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014
Physical activity is a necessary component of good health at all ages. In particular, as we age, we are at increased risk for falls due to a tendency to lose muscle mass and decrease physical activity (in addition to other issues like medications and poor vision). Exercise can help us combat some of these issues and make gains in muscle mass and build better strength and balance.
It is important to talk to your doctor about what exercise is appropriate. You may even benefit from some physical therapy if you have had major changes. Your physical therapist can then work with you to create a routine for ongoing maintenance. We also work with a great group of personal trainers at In Home Fitness. They specialize in seniors and medical rehabilitation, so they are attuned to your conditions and personalized needs. They also make exercise fun!
Our home caregivers help many clients maintain their exercise routines. We can assist with your daily routine at home or accompany you on walks. Our senior transportation services provide rides to gyms, senior centers, the YMCA/local pool, or the beach for exercise in a wide array of settings.
There are a great many resources you can access at home. If you are a caregiver who wants to help the person you care for to stay fit, we’ll offer various tips and resources in our blog series so keep checking back!
Start with this video on YouTube, which demonstrates some great exercises for your vestibular system, to help with balance. Mary Ann Wilson, who leads the exercises, does a half hour series on PBS called Sit and Be Fit, which is designed for older adults. Her program’s been airing for more than 22 years on many local PBS stations, so it’s likely you can tune right in from your home. You can read more about Sit and Be Fit on their website and also purchase DVDs, audio, and accessories to complement your routine.
EasyLiving’s team is completely focused on quality of life for our clients and the broader community. As part of this, we encourage active aging and educate about falls prevention. You can check out our top tips for fall prevention in the elderly and our free falls prevention checklist.
Contact us for help with senior home care, active aging support, senior transportation and more–we’re here to help you keep your body in the best condition possible!
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