Over 2 million U.S. workers provider in-home health services to those in need. Whether fighting a short-term illness, in the midst of a long-term battle or looking to find comfort in the last stages of life these medical professionals can provide needed healthcare while helping the patient remain within their home instead of in a hospital or nursing facility.
However, a great deal of trust comes when hiring a home healthcare provider. These people are coming into our homes and have access to our most personal spaces. They are in close contact with loved ones, often unsupervised. How can we ensure we find a person who is not only well-qualified, but also kind and compassionate?
Those looking to hire this type of professional generally have two options: hire using a health agency or directly hire an independent contractor. It is important to conduct interviews, whichever route you choose. Medicare’s Home Health Compare can serve as a valuable tool while narrowing down the search. Ask for and contact references before making a hiring decision, and once the decision is made stop in regularly to see how things are going.
What if I suspect abuse?
Abuse comes in many forms. It is important to act whether you suspect physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. Neglect, failing to provide adequate care, is also of concern. You can help by taking the following steps:
- Contact authorities. If the danger is immediate, call 911. If you are concerned there may be danger, it is helpful to reach out to the Adult Protective Services agency in the state. In Florida, it is generally appropriate to contact the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. This can help to safely remove the loved one from a potentially dangerous situation and may lead to criminal charges against the healthcare provider.
- Hold the caregiver accountable for their wrongdoing. In addition to criminal charges, civil charges may also be available. This can lead to compensation to help cover the expenses that result from the abuse, as well as a means to further hold the guilty party accountable for their wrongdoing.
Moving forward with civil charges can also help make the community a safer place for the elderly as it sends a message to others that they will be held accountable if they do not take their roles as healthcare providers seriously.