10 Benefits of Agency-Based Home Care

When trying to decide the best home care solution for your aging loved one, it helps to explore all your options. The information provided can help you explore the benefits of agency-based home care, answer some of your commonly asked questions, and help you understand what to ask when deciding on an agency for your care needs.

10 advantages of agency-based home care

  1. Caregiver background checks, reference checks and ongoing drug screening
  2. Liability insurance for accidents and wrongdoing, workers compensation insurance for caregiver injuries
  3. Backup caregivers allow for continuity of care, no breaks in service, and having family/friend to manage
  4. Access to RN’s, Case Managers, & schedulers
  5. Continuing education and training of your caregivers on latest industry techniques
  6. Industry and Department of Human Services oversight on best practices,
  7. Quality assurance programs to ensure the standard of care
  8. Access to long-term care insurance for those with policy in place
  9. Access and assistance with obtaining Veterans Aid and; Attendance pension for home care
  10. Peace of mind

Cost of agency-based home care versus private home care

If cost is a consideration for you, then you should know that agency-based home care does tend to have a higher average cost at about $38/hr while private home care may only cost, on average, $22/hr.

Commonly asked questions about agency-based care

Are “Home Health” and “In-Home Care” the same thing?
Home Health is a medical service for people who are homebound which includes skilled nursing, at-home physical therapy, pain and prescription management, and wound care. Home Care is classified as non-medical assistance with daily activities including personal care, meal preparation, light housekeeping, ambulatory assistance, medication administration, and nurse delegated care. Although agencies can manage medications and some minor wound care, they are limited in their medical services.

Will my Medicare or Health Insurance pay for my services?
No, both are medical insurances. The entire home care industry is non-medical. The only insurance that ensures a benefit for home care is Long Term Care insurance.

What questions should you ask an agency when deciding on care and why

Do you pay your caregivers as employees or as contract employees?
It is a State law that all agencies must employ their caregivers as employees.

Will I have the same caregiver every shift?
Any case that is 5 or fewer days per week and less than 8 hours and one shift per day, should be scheduled with one caregiver. Caregiver availability is a rising challenge so you may need a second caregiver, but you should see the same caregiver(s) on a weekly basis.

If I am unsatisfied with my caregiver what can I do?
You should have the ultimate choice in your caregiver. It is wise to try and work out issues, as caregivers want to please you and are willing to adapt, but if you don’t have a choice, look elsewhere.

Top 10 Estate Planning Issues

As an Elder Law attorney, I am often asked “What is the biggest estate planning problem?”.  My answer, “Failing to start”.  The following is a list of issues to think about when preparing your estate plans.  Almost all issues can be taken care of with a little thoughtful consideration, but the same issue can also create major problems if not dealt with in advance.

1. Probate – Court supervised administration of your estate is never a pleasant journey. Despite the helpful court personnel, there are still filing fees, lack of privacy issues, and long waiting periods before distribution. And that’s if all goes well.

2. Asset Protection – Many people do not take advantage of the asset protection opportunities that can be achieved with relatively basic estate planning. Creating trusts for spouses and children with the right provisions means your assets can be protected from claims of creditors and predators for years to come. While we hope that our children would not fall victim to divorce, this is one asset protection conversation that must be planned for.

3. Tax Planning – This is never an easy issue as the various tax systems don’t always line up with each other. Consider the tension between gift planning, (giving away some of your assets) to shelter appreciation by moving them outside of your estate, and loss of basis for capital gains purposes. While not easy, this issue can really cost you money if not properly handled.

4. Family Disharmony – Estate planning is a way for you to say you care about your loved ones. But selection of your personal representative or trustee can also stir the pot and create issue issues for those not chosen. Sometimes it is best to name a non-family member to be in charge of your estate. Giving thought to how to help resolve these conflicts or at least, not make them worse, can help to avoid family conflicts.

5. Attorney’s Fees – The best way to control legal fees is to incur them while you are alive and able to oversee the planning process. Failure to plan is likely to increase the total amount of fees paid. Especially if family members decide that fighting is the best way to resolve disputes after you’re gone.

6. Successor Fiduciaries – Make sure that you name back up personal representatives and trustees, or provide the beneficiaries with a way to fill a vacant role, so that a court proceeding is not required.

7. Contingent Beneficiaries – Make plans for your estate in the event that your immediate family members die and are unable to inherit your estate. Pick a charity or a group of more distant relatives or close friends.

8. Updating Beneficiary Designations – Life insurance and retirement accounts are controlled by the beneficiary designations you make when you purchase the life insurance or open a retirement account. They are most notably the small boxes you checked at the end of your application. Make sure these stay updated. We have seen more than once a policy which still names a client’s first wife or husband many years after a divorce and remarriage.

9. Joint Accounts – Often used as a convenience during life and a will substitute at death. Because these accounts go to the survivor, make sure that this lines up with your overall plan of passing assets to your heirs. Leaving money in a joint account for one child with the idea that they will spread the wealth around after your death can be a recipe for disaster.

10. Failing to start – Procrastination is probably the leading cause of problems in estate planning. Once a disability or death occurs, planning becomes very difficult and lots more expensive, if possible at all.