Selecting a Home Care Agency? – Use This 5 Factor Checklist

Pros and Cons ChecklistThere comes a time when your mom, dad, or another loved one will need help with their daily lives. And hiring help to care for them at home is one of the best options for them and you for many reasons. Whether your family has already decided to go down this path or you are just researching your options, one of the most important questions that come to mind is how to select the right home care agency for your loved ones.

Let us share with you our recommendation based on almost 30 years of experience. This practical and straightforward checklist includes 5 factors you should focus your research on. It will help you ask the right questions and form a very informed opinion on your home care agency of choice:

#1. EXPERIENCE
  • Look for companies that have been in business for a longer period of time and at the same location.  This shows stability and most likely a favorable reputation.  Equally important is how long the management team has been in place.  Years of experience speak volumes regarding satisfied customers.

Example – Why North Oakland Caregivers agency might qualify: Our company has been providing home care for almost 30 years since 1992, and it’s still run by the original family of founders, from the original location.

#2. REPUTATION
  • Reviews can reveal the true reputation of the company among clients. The company website is an obvious place to go to first but make sure you also check Google and Facebook as the next best places to find such information. Besides the ratings look for details of the reviews which might show if their relationship with the company was personable and warm or simply matter-of-fact.

Example – Why North Oakland Caregivers agency might qualify: We are honored and humbled by the trust our clients put in us by giving our services their highest ratings over and over again.

#3. CLARITY
  • The planning stage of setting up your home care services is the critical part of the process, and you should look for whether the company makes all the necessary steps to ensure success? For example, does it include the client or their family members in developing the plan of care? Do they explain clearly all available options and recommend a scenario, including its financial aspect, that would fit your particular situation? Do they take into consideration the compatibility of the client and their caregiver?

Example – Why North Oakland Caregivers agency might qualify: All our clients are offered a free consultation over the phone or in person. Then our team will involve you in the planning discussion which will result in a meet and greet package handover, with each detail documented and agreed on.

#4. FLEXIBILITY
  • Some companies have a one size fits all plan or a few choices. Try to find the company that will match your exact needs with a customizable plan.
  • And while it is a good idea to have a plan of care in place for the client and caregivers for the first two weeks, it is also good to know that plan can be flexible enough to accommodate the “ebbs and flows” of a very fluid care process.

Example – Why North Oakland Caregivers agency might qualify: We are known for offering help in situations where little help could be found via a cookie-cutter approach. We stand by our clients and adapt our care program as their needs change.

#5. RELIABILITY
  • It’s important to understand how reliable the caregiver services are going to be. For example, is the company insured?  Is the client protected in their own home? Are all of the personal belongings protected in the home? Is there a backup plan if a caregiver calls in sick?
  • Finally, when it is all said and done, look for a “team” of people that genuinely care for your loved one, just as your own team of family members does. You can tell when you talk to them.

Example – Why North Oakland Caregivers agency might qualify: From the technical point of view, all our caregivers are screened and our company is fully insured to provide you with peace of mind when it comes to your loved ones. What is equally important is we have a team of people who are fully committed to serving each family as their own.

When you search for a home care agency using this guide, consider giving us a call, too. It would be a pleasure to speak with you regarding your situation and see if we can be the right fit for you.

3 Advantages of Home Care in Times of Pandemic

A caregiver and a senior woman image for the article "Advantages of home care services for seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic"We have been living through devastating events brought by the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now. It disrupted the flow of our ordinary lives, but it also taught us valuable lessons. Here we share 3 lessons we learned at North Oakland Caregivers, and they showcased the advantages of our home care services for our clients during the pandemic.

I.  A dedicated caregiver provided required support while limiting the risk of COVID-19 exposure. Having one caregiver in the home to help with the client’s needs combined the best of both worlds – it limited the client’s exposure to potential virus carriers and made sure the client received the help they needed. It goes without saying that all our caregivers were following daily protocol to keep everyone safe.

II. Social interaction with a trusted caregiver helped relieve the pandemic side effects of anxiety and isolation. In an environment of social distancing limited social contact provided a safe haven for our senior and immune-compromised clients.  However, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety were a cause of concern and a potential situation for both physical and mental decline for many of them. Looking forward to their caregiver on a scheduled, weekly basis brought great relief to our clients in those times. It was their time for a much-needed social interaction, an opportunity to distract themselves from grim news in the media and enjoy some smiles and positive energy. Besides the immediate benefits described here, simple social interaction is known to be the most important factor of longevity as we wrote in our blog earlier.

III. Our caregivers helped fill in where family primary caregivers could not manage their pandemic-driven workload of working from home and looking after their children. Families providing care for their elderly family members were all of a sudden finding new demands on their time. Many experienced added responsibilities with children at home with virtual schooling and many were working more hours from home in their professional careers. We received many inquiries for help to relieve the family caregiver because of these increased demands on their time, and our schedulers made sure the transition of care from a family member to our caregivers was done quickly and efficiently. It was the ultimate example of our motto – providing relief and bringing peace of mind to the family that their loved one had someone to take care of them.

These are just three out of many advantages of home care we witnessed during the pandemic.  Let us know how our home care services can help you and your loved ones in similar situations – or in situations different from what we described but still created by the pressures of the pandemic – we’d love to help and we are just a phone call away!

3 Reasons to Choose Home Care for Your Loved Ones

A senior woman and a female caregiver in each other's companyAs our mom and dad age, living on their own becomes increasingly difficult. Yet, they might be doing anything they can to stay independent, even if it means letting go of the quality of life they are used to.

Their motivation is understandable – they probably do not want to become a “burden” for the family and have the family members facing pressure of finding time in their busy schedules to become their caregivers. Or – if the family support system is far away – they simply want to avoid having to go to a nursing home as this would mean a disruption of their lives they are so used to.

With home care services the stress for both the aging parents and the rest of the family can be avoided. The home care option might be the best solution for your seniors for many reasons. Here we will highlight the main three.

#1. THE SAFEST OPTION:

Why important: Staying at their own home is a sign to our seniors that they are still independent and doing well. Once they lose that, they are likely to lose this mental reassurance as well and feeling defeated might lead to prematurely feeling frail. Additionally, in the times of the pandemic and concerning news about nursing homes’ higher rates of COVID-19, it’s advisable to look at other options.

How can home care help: With a caregiver around, your mom or dad can stay in the comfort and familiarity of their own home safely, both with regards to their positive mental outlook and avoidance of unnecessary exposure to the virus in big groups. It goes without saying that our caregivers have to pass all the required health and safety procedures daily.

#2. DEDICATED ONE-ON-ONE CARE:

Why important: We all want to be treated the way we deserve. Without a dedicated caregiver it’s hard to juggle other responsibilities that a family member or a long-term care facility staff might have.

How can home care help: A dedicated caregiver’s level of care is the best – their client is their one and only responsibility. So, your mom or dad will be getting a reliable quality service every time that is immediate and fully focused on their needs. And the family will have peace of mind that their loved ones are taken care of.

#3. THE BEST REMEDY FOR LONELINESS:

Why important: Daily social interaction has been proven the key to longevity. So, even though feeling lonely might seem intangible, it needs to be taken as seriously as any medical diagnosis at an older age.

How can home care help: A one-on-one interaction with a dedicated caregiver is one of the key reasons home care is becoming so popular. The senior and the caregiver develop a bond that provides a variety of positive emotions, from a simple pleasure of human interaction to joy and anticipation of seeing the other person to do things together, things that your mom or dad would not do on their own.

We think these three reasons of why home care might be the best option for seniors in your life are good food for thought for the families that are still looking into different options. If you are one of them, please give us a call, and we will be happy to share with you how it might work for your loved ones.

What to Do If Your Elderly Parents Need Care but Want to Stay at Home?

Smiling caregiverMany of us with elderly parents know how fiercely they protect their ability to live independently, even if their health is declining. According to a research report by the National Conference of State Legislatures and the AARP Public Policy Institute, up to 90% of people over age 65 want to stay living in their home as long as it is possible.

Families support this desire of their elderly loved ones.  Staying in their home and feeling connected to their community helps them maintain a positive outlook and live longer. But at some point it becomes challenging for the family members to support the growing needs of their aging loved ones. And everyone dreads the discussion of a nursing home or assistant living facility. After all, it often implies an emotionally heavy time period and a sense of loss on the part of the aging parents. It’s something that one can never fully adjust to.

Many families do not know that this can be avoided and that they have a better option in their arsenal – a 24/7 home care assistance where 1 or 2 caregivers would support the elderly parent still in the familiarity of their home. This option removes the unnecessary stress of changing the environment for the parents and, on top of that, gives them a better one-on-one care than many facilities can provide.

We at the North Oakland Caregivers see how the 24/7 home care option becomes a welcome choice for many families who have not even thought of it at the beginning. We see how our elderly clients bond with the caregivers and their families gain peace of mind that their parents will be taken care of around the clock. We have given this kind of experience to many of our clients and we are happy to help your family too. Call us to start the conversation. We are happy to answer any of your questions to help you explore your options!

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Home Care Service for Your Loved Ones

Family disagreement over starting home care serviceWe at North Oakland Caregivers have been providing senior home care for 26 years, and during this time we have seen a lot of difficult situations families went through when time had come for them to decide how to care for their loved one.  However, we know that many of those situations could have been avoided if the families knew what to expect. Here we describe 3 common mistakes we see over and over in our practice and suggest ideas how to avoid them.

#1 Siblings disagree

This afflicts at least 50% of our cases.  When one sibling makes a unilateral decision with regards to their mom or dad’s home care, the rest often cannot agree and gain a consensus on how, when or where mom or dad should be taken care of. This becomes a classic case of “paralysis by analysis” – meaning nothing gets decided or important decisions get delayed. The person who suffers most in this situation is the very person who the family wanted to help – not only their care is being delayed, they also often feel guilty and upset believing they were the cause for siblings’ disagreement.

Solution:  Involve everyone in the discussion before making any further steps. When everyone starts together, there is more free will and openness allowed in the discussion, and it’s easier to get the whole family on the same page. This will make the senior home care experience for your mom or dad comforting, not upsetting.

#2 Mom or dad don’t want a “stranger” in the house

This is the most common reason the families decide NOT to get senior home care for their elderly member. Not because the family does not want it – they want and need care, and everyone is on board. Except mom or dad.  They are hesitant about letting someone into their house that they don’t know.  They don’t understand how it will all work. They simply do not want to change anything. This is understandable.

Solution:  Small steps are always less intimidating. Start the process of getting help for your loved one by starting early and on a limited basis if possible.  North Oakland Caregivers starts out each case with a “Meet and Greet” with the family, the caregiver and a member of our management team, in the client’s home.  This has been a great way for clients to start the process of familiarity.  We often recommend, where possible, that a caregiver start out 1 or 2 days a week, so the client can gain a comfort level before more days need to be added. When this process is followed, inevitably the client ends up looking forward to each and every visit, and adding more days or hours becomes seamless.

#3 Family delays asking for help until an “event” occurs

This is a common mistake because it is very hard to see small changes as your loved one’s health starts to give. Still, simply having a heightened awareness of how your loved one is feeling, moving, or tending to activities of daily living may go a long way.  You may notice a diminished ability or difficulties in accomplishing what used to be commonly performed tasks.  Moreover, you may see forgetfulness. It may seem just an odd situation to you at the time.

Solution:  Don’t wait until you have to face a much more serious accident. Make a phone call to discuss your situation.   We at North Oakland Caregivers understand you are facing an unfamiliar issue, and you do not need to go through it alone. We offer an informative meeting to help you become aware of many available options and always strive to find a solution for your specific situation. The key is to come up with an early plan to provide care, so that everyone stays ahead of any and all possibilities.