How safe and conscientious are home health care agencies? As one might expect, there is a huge range. From a recent report in the American Geriatrics Society Journal however, far to many such agencies have poor hiring and screening practices for their paid caregivers. Consider these facts:
- Only 16.5 percent of agencies tested potential caregivers’ basic knowledge about the job and its requirements.
- No agencies assessed potential caregivers’ “health literacy” – their ability to understand medical terms and instructions.
- Only 32 percent of agencies required drug tests of applicants for caregiver positions.
- No agencies performed criminal background checks on applicants in states other than the one in which they were operating.
- Only 15 percent of agencies provided some type of training before sending a caregiver into someone’s home.
- More than half relied on caregivers’ own assessment of their skills – their ability to administer medications, provide dementia care or transfer someone from chair to bed, for instance – without independent verification.
- Only 23 percent of agencies supervised caregivers by sending someone to the home monthly to check up on them.
These statistics are in a report from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University that studied 180 agencies in Arizona, Colorado, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.
Part of the problem is that most payment to home health agencies is private and since no federal or state agencies are involved there is no reliable source of accurate information on reputability.
Read more about this report from Judith Graham in The Old New Age Blog from the NYTimes. There you can find a list of questions to ask agencies to make sure you are hiring a quality organization. http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/19/whos-watching-mom/
and find the original report here. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22724430