My Mom/Dad Needs an Aide, Caregiver, Nurse, HHA, CNA, Companion???

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Seeking help for an elderly or aging relative can be very confusing. What are the needs, costs, rules and the name of what my mom or dad needs? Boca Home Care Services explains away some of the inherent confusion and makes recommendations on how/what to look for.

For starters, is the need medical or non-medical? If there is a wound, treatment, monitoring of a medical condition, need for occupational, physical or speech therapy then, you loved one needs a Registered Nurse and/or the other Skilled therapists. The good news is, these professionals will make home visits to your parent and Medicare covers it at 100%.

If the need is non-medical and more of need with personal care and household chores then you are looking for a trained, certified assistant who has experience with older adults or seniors. This Assistant is likely to be either a Home Health Aide (HHA) or a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). Both will have some training and have a certificate. The Home Health Aide is required to take 40 hours of training with an option to go up to 75 hours, with specific emphasis on Alzheimer’s or Dementia care in order to earn their certification. The CNA- Certified Nurse Assistant has a minimum of 120 hours of training and is licensed by the state. They can check blood pressure and other vitals.

Both levels of training enable the Aide to be a caregiver, sitter, or companion. In the state of Florida, the Aide is permitted to “touch” the person and therefore can assist with personal care – bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding or walking/transferring. This is not the case in some Northern States where the Aide cannot physically assist the client.

In addition to the personal care, the Aide or Caregiver will also prepare meals, provide transportation, go shopping, do the laundry, provide some companionship, do very light housekeeping – kitchen, bathroom and bedroom for the most part. They will give medication prompts, provide information to the family members, provide respite time to the caregiver spouse, assist with exercises, go walking with the client and so forth.

When the right match is made, it is MAGIC.

Although Medicare does not cover “custodial care” which is more than in & out visits – many people have Long Term Care Insurance or pay privately.  Shifts are usually 4 hours but can go up to live in 24 hour care. Most companies will charge a bit more for a shift under 4 hours as it is harder to staff with a good caregiver. They usually require at least 3 days a week for the continuity of the same caregiver so that a mutual fondness can actually develop. Care can be either short term or long term – depending on the situation and needs (Falls, Illnees, Disease or Dementia).

You can most certainly have private help and Medicare home health at the same time.

Many people in South Florida where so many Seniors live in gated communities or condos usually know someone who has an aide – especially if they are home from a hospital and/or Rehab center.

If you hire privately, then you are responsible for some things that a company would normally do: screening, paying of salary, taxes, Workman’s Comp, insurance, filing the ongoing paperwork with your Long Term Care provider.

At the very least, make sure the person has insurance, some training or a license. Find out what their back up plan is if they cannot make it to your Mom’s house.

The advantages of going with a LICENSED Home Care Company are many: they do for you what the private person does not; there is always back up care, there is transparency and someone who is also  monitoring and tweaking the situation as needs dictate. Some Insurances require  an aide from a licensed company. You are not locked in and dependent on a single person who can always take another job or leave. There is someone with whom to discuss other services, benefits and needs. With Boca Home Care Services you can also work directly with their Medicare side – Boca Home Care. At the end of the day, if you follow the labor laws, the price difference is very negligible between private and company hires.  When considering home care for your mom or dad, price isn’t usually the first concern. 

Trust, experience, reliability, professionalism, expert knowledge, ease of communication, ability to make responsible referrals and a willingness to make changes are what set companies apart from one another. Who is on staff, how long have they been in business and so forth are things to inquire about.

Hopefully this will have cleared up some of the confusion, answered some questions as you realize that what you are looking for is a trained, kind, screened, certified and responsible person who will take care of your loved one’s personal care needs, household tasks, help them to eat better, exercise some, raise their spirit and enrich their life while taking some of the stress out of yours.