Selecting a Home Health Agency

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Selecting the right home health care agency starts with a conversation with your physician, nurse, hospital social worker or hospital discharge planner. These professionals can recommend several reputable agencies based on the services you or a loved one needs.

But before deciding on a home health care agency, there are several questions to ask to put your mind at ease that the agency you select is the right fit for you. Visiting Health Services has compiled a list of questions to help you get started.

  • How long has the agency been in business in your community?
  • Is the agency certified by Medicare? If so, that means it meets federal requirements for health and safety.
  • Does the agency have a current license by the state? Not all states require a license.
  • Is the agency certified by a national accrediting body, such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations?
  • Are the caregivers bonded and insured?
  • Does the agency employ registered nurses and licensed practical nurses?
  • Are home health aides certified?
  • Does the agency conduct a thorough screening of its employees—criminal background check, drug testing, and skills validation?
  • Does the agency provide brochures that describe their services and fees?
  • Who will be in your home? Who supervises that person?
  • Does the agency provide a written plan that details the services to be provided, financial arrangements, what is covered by insurance and what is not? Does the patient, physician, and family have input into the plan?
  • Does the care plan outline the patient's course of treatment, describing the tasks to be performed by each caregiver?
  • How does the agency ensure quality services are provided?
  • Do caregivers keep family members informed about the care received by their loved one? Is it a written document or verbal? How often can you expect formal communication?
  • Does the agency have a nursing supervisor available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? How accessible is that person and how can you contact them if need be?
  • Are agency caregivers available around the clock, seven days a week?
  • What procedures are in place in case of an emergency?
  • How does the agency protect patient confidentiality?
  • What is the procedure for resolving problems? Who do you contact with questions or concerns?
  • Does the agency accept your insurance and will they bill the insurance company for you?
  • Are there resources available to assist with understanding financial responsibilities?
  • Can the agency provide a list of references to include local physicians, hospital social workers, discharge planners, and other families they have cared for in your community?