Picture this…

Mom hasn’t had an emergency in months. This after months of being a regular at the local hospital for everything from UTIs and dehydration to bowel obstructions and falls.

Your elderly Mom is not only eating well, she’s eating healthier than you do and loves her food. She has fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts for snacks. She eats a home cooked meal each night for dinner along with lighter breakfasts and lunches.

Her house looks better than it has in a while and, truthfully, Mom does too. When you see her, she’s wearing a smile (and nice–clean–clothes). She always looks neat and tidy. And, her home is definitely tidier than it has been in a while.

She’s following an exercise routine the doctor suggested, including daily short walks. She recently started going back to her old church. Mom mentioned she’s going to get her caregiver to take her to plays too. So she’ll renew her subscription at the local theater which she let lapse a few years back.

So, how did we find ourselves in this new, improved situation? It was the result of great home care services.

What Great Home Care Services Look Like

We hired home care services for Mom and everything they did in their process helped achieve these results. I’ve had friends who did not have the same experience or get the same results with their home care services. We didn’t have a completely smooth experience. Things will happen. Eldercare, especially in someone’s home, is very personal. Mom had to adjust. Caregivers occasionally made a mistake or there was a small miscommunication with the company. But, here’s what I think made the situation so successful. This is what great home care services look like to me. And, the results speak for themselves.

Setting Expectations

EasyLiving was all about thorough communication and setting expectations with us (and their caregivers). They understood this was all new to us and took into account common questions and concerns. Additionally, they realize that each new client is a new situation for their caregivers. It seems they’ve built their process with this understanding. They want to equip everyone with the information they need so things go as well as possible.

Home Care Environment

One area where they helped set expectations and share education with us was the home environment. They seemed to really care about what their caregivers were walking into. Not having done this before, we didn’t know what to expect or things to consider. Mom has a small dog, for example. They asked us about this in the intake process. And, they talked to us about carefully introducing her to the caregiver. So Mom knew to keep her in another room when the caregiver first came. And, they made sure the caregiver who came was aware there was a dog. Even though Mom’s dog has never bitten anyone, I know many people are leary of dogs. And, you never know how the dog will react to a new person.

The supervisor came out with the caregiver on the first visit. She reviewed the care plan and how things would work in the home. She checked that the environment was safe and equipped as needed. She suggested we get a couple supplies that would help. And, she guided us in orienting the caregiver. Because they were so throrough, we got a lot of questions answered right up front. Both Mom and I felt more at ease.

To learn more, read:

How to Prepare Your Home for a Senior Care Worker

Five Etiquette Rules When You Have a Professional Caregiver in Your Home

Care Planning

The other thing that EasyLiving did that put us at ease was developing the care plan. They started with a questionnaire which asked about Mom’s background, habits and preferences. Their team did what I assume is common among home care providers in finding out care needs and tasks. But, their care plan went well beyond that. When they say it’s a personalized care plan, they really mean it. They wanted to know not only what Mom needed, but wanted.

I felt the care plan not only gave the caregivers direction but focused them on improving Mom’s life. With a clear plan, they could be sure to accomplish all the basic things we’d hoped for. But, they could also add back in the quality to Mom’s life she’d been missing for too long. This all came out during the care planning process, as they were genuinely interested in Mom’s history and current situation.

Training and Refining

When I asked about caregiver training, EasyLiving shared the specific training modules their caregivers receive. It was the first time I got a transparent answer about this. When I’d been asking around, other home care services simply explained the caregivers had certain licenses or “are trained”.

Since I work in corporate training, I was especially happy with the way they also made sure the caregivers were trained on the care plan. They seemed to have a pretty good “matching” process for selecting the most appropriate caregivers. And, they visited to do on-site supervision and refine any skills or make changes if needed.

Soliciting and Using Feedback

As I mentioned, everything wasn’t perfect. But, what I appreciated most was the way they proactively solicited feedback. We got a call (and I learned later, apparently the caregiver does too) shortly after the first shift. They didn’t put the burden on us to call and complain or ask for something. We had a couple of ideas for the care plan from that first visit, and they made the changes.

We also got calls from an independent surveyor they used to ensure they’re getting honest responses. At one point, they were having some scheduling issues. It seems they took the feedback and made changes to their process along with adding another scheduler. Since then, scheduling has been smooth. With the way they emphasized feedback from the start, I would never hesitate to contact them with any concerns.

When you’re worried about your elderly parent, you want to get them help. But, sometimes that help doesn’t live up to expectations. Home care services should not only reduce your worries, but produce tangible benefits for your parent. Quality home care services can make a big difference. You might hit some bumps along the road, but they should help smooth your family’s path. Finding out how home care providers handle these various aspects of the process can guide you to the best choice.

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