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Using Resources to Help Choose Home Care

By Alyssa Ciancibello | 11/13/2019

A caregiver and older adult reviewing home care options online

Home health care agencies can provide care to a loved one right in his or her own home. They offer a wide range of services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and skilled nursing care. Receiving care in the home still offers the same effective care one would receive in a hospital or nursing facility, while typically being more cost-effective and convenient. Finding which home health agency to use for a loved one can be a daunting task. However, there are resources out there that can help ease the stress of finding the best home health care for a loved one. 

Medicare’s Home Health Compare

One resource to use is Medicare’s “Home Health Compare”. Home Health Compare displays general information as well as patient satisfaction information about Medicare-certified home health agencies across the country, filtered by your zip code, city or state. 

We can view Quality of Patient Care measures and see how each measure compares to state and national averages. Measures of quality patient care include how well each agency does in:

  • Managing daily activities
  • Managing pain and treating symptoms 
  • Preventing harm
  • Preventing unplanned hospital care
  • Payment and value of care 

An overall Quality of Patient Care Rating is displayed so we can see how the home health agency is rated in comparison to the state and national average. The Quality of Patient Care Rating is shown as a star rating from 1 to 5. 4 or 5 stars means the agency’s performance was above average of other agencies, while 1 or 2 stars means the agency’s performance was below average of other agencies. 

Patient Survey Results summarize what patients thought about their experiences using the home health care agency compared to the state and national averages.

Patient Survey Results shown are:

  • How often did the home health team give care in a professional way? 
  • How well did the home health team communicate with patients?
  • Did the home health team discuss medicines, pain and home safety with patients?
  • How do patients rate the overall care from the home health agency?

Would patients recommend the home health agency to friends and family?

A patient survey summary star rating is displayed to show how patients rate their overall experiences with the home health agency.

Administration for Community Living’s Eldercare Locator

Another resource is the Eldercare Locator through the Administration for Community Living (ACL). This website provides information about home health care and ways to guide our search for an agency in our community, such as talking with friends, community members and our local Area Agency on Agency. When asking questions and beginning our search for a home health agency, the website also provides questions for us to consider during our search, including: 

  • Is the agency an approved Medicare Provider?
  • Are agency staff members available around the clock? 
  • How are agency caregivers hired and trained?

For more assistance with our search, we can use the Eldercare Locator search bar to find our local Area Agency on Aging, which can help guide us on our search for a home health agency. 

Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging can also help us find home health care in our area through their WeCare care-coaching program. WeCare can connect us to community-based services and resources, including home health agencies, to support us and a loved one. 

Finding a home health agency that fits a loved one’s needs can be much simpler and stress-free if we know what tools are out there!  

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