How To Choose A Home Care Provider: Interview with Senior Helpers

justin_harr

August 11, 2014

An in home caregiver comforts an elderly patient.

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jenny Lind, Owner of Senior Helpers – Concord, one of the major In-Home Care Providers for senior citizens. Senior Helpers offers many different in-home care services including companion care, Alzheimer’s & dementia care, housekeeping, and personal care.

CLICK PLAY to hear from Jenny about how to choose a good home care provider, how to deal with family caregiving issues, and how her business uses medical alert systems to supplement the care they provide.

JUSTIN: Hi this is Justin, Community Outreach and Account Representative for Bay Alarm Medical. Today we’re talking to Jenny Lind, the Owner at Senior Helpers, one of the major home care providers for senior citizens.

The topics we’ll be covering today are Tips and Advice for Caregivers, How To Select A Good In-Home Care Provider, and about How Medical Alarm Systems Are Being Used By Home Care Businesses.

OK Jenny, what made you want to get into the business?

JENNY: You know, I was looking for something to do in the next chapter of my life, and thinking a lot about my grandfather who used to go visit my uncle in an Alzheimers facility.

He hated going there and he would always tell us as children that he never wanted to be in a facility or have to go into a hospital. So when I found Senior Helpers, I thought that it was the perfect match for me.


He hated going there and he would always tell us as children that he never wanted to be in a facility or have to go into a hospital.


JUSTIN: Awesome, awesome. Now, what are some of your favorite parts of the job?

JENNY: My favorite part of the job is going out to visit the clients, and seeing the caregivers in the homes with the clients working together.

JUSTIN: What would be one of your best memories on the job?

JENNY: You know, recently I went to visit a client. She’s 101 and she’s really independent. I think she has your system, Bay Alarm Medical Alert System.

We assigned a personal trainer to go out and do exercise with her. And when I go over and see them working together, it’s the happiest she’s ever been because she’s getting some nice attention and feeling good about her movement and what she’s doing. To have, you know, an extra visitor come see her besides the caregiver and her family.

JUSTIN: Wow, 101, that’s pretty amazing!

JENNY: She’s awesome! Yeah!

JUSTIN: Ok, so what are some indicators to watch for – either health-wise or mobility-wise – for seniors that indicate in-home care is needed for them?

JENNY: Things to watch for, so if you’re a family member, a daughter or son going to visit mom and dad or grandma and grandpa, you might see something like expired foods in the refrigerator. They’re not being used or cleaned out because cooking is becoming a little more difficult, even reheating.

Of course, if someone falls that’s an indicator that they may need a little bit of assistance. They’re trying to do too much maybe.


[Indicators] to watch for if you’re a family member…you might see something like expired foods in the refrigerator. They’re not being used or cleaned out because cooking is becoming a little more difficult, even reheating.


Usually we start to help people in their 80s. So if you have a combination of the 80s and some other health diagnosis like Alzheimers Disease, or COPD, they’re falling, they’re not cooking, or asking for help, or they’re calling a lot, or needing to go to doctor’s appointments and it’s hard for them to find rides.

JUSTIN: Ok, now for the home care: How do you train, supervise, and monitor your caregivers?

JENNY: Ok so, I think our company has a really great training program. I’m really proud of our training program.

We have, I’m gonna say, 100 hours of training that’s available to our caregivers. They can do self-study training that we hand out. They can come in the office and we do training usually 3-4 times a month as group training, classroom training in the office.

We also ask other vendors to come in and do training. Like CPR vendors, fall prevention, the county, and things like that.

In terms of monitoring the caregivers, I do go by and stop in to visit quite often. I do surprise visits. We see our caregivers typically once a week. They come in the office to get their paychecks. We talk to them, we update care plans, and we talk to them about those updated care plans.

There’s a lot of different ways that we can reach out and communicate with caregivers and our clients.


There’s a lot of different ways that we can reach out and communicate with caregivers and our clients.


We also have a third party vendor that calls and does a quality assurance interview with the family members. They will call and ask questions like “Are we on time?” “Does the office call back,” and things like that. So we have several ways to make sure we’re doing a good job.

JUSTIN: Awesome. So I know you guys are non-medical, are any of the services covered by health insurance or medicare?

JENNY: That’s a good question. We get that all the time.

So because we are non-medical, health insurance is designed to cover medical need so usually health insurance does not cover our services; which are cooking, cleaning, transportation, help with personal care. We help with getting up in the morning, getting dressed, bathing, showering, that kind of thing. But health insurance does not usually cover that.

Although if the services are prescribed by a doctor, medicare might kick in. So if the doctor can prescribe a home healthcare visit, that would be a home healthcare provider that would come out parallel to our services.

There is one more thing, long-term care insurance. If the family has purchased long-term care insurance that will cover the non-medical aspect of care in the home.

JUSTIN: Ok, do you have any tips or advice for families on how to choose a good in-home care provider?

JENNY: Yeah, I think it’s important when you’re shopping for a home care provider to interview 2 or 3 different agencies. There are different business models out there.


It’s important when you’re shopping for a home care provider to interview 2 or 3 different agencies.


My agency I would say is an employment agency. Our caregivers are employed by us. We do W-2s, we pay into medicare and benefits. They are employees so they are covered under all of our insurance policies.

So you want to make sure you ask about worker’s comp insurance, liability insurance, are the caregivers bonded. So I carry all of those insurances.

There’s another model out there where the agency has caregivers that are great caregivers, but they are not employed. Meaning that they are contractors, not employees, so the insurance typically won’t cover that. You have to watch out for some other supervisory issues I think in that model. So you just want to interview more than one.

I know that a lot of times when people are in this situation they’re in a rush to make a decision, but it’s important to create a good relationship with a home care agency and be able to work together going forward.

JUSTIN: Ok, now how can medical alert systems supplement in-home care? Or better worded, how are they most useful to you?

JENNY: Medical alert systems are our best partner because we can suggest getting a medical alert system if someone doesn’t want to hire a caregiver to hang around all the time.


Medical alert systems are our best partner because we can suggest getting a medical alert system if someone doesn’t want to hire a caregiver to hang around all the time.


If someone has a medical alert system, it’s like having somebody there 24/7 because they can push that button if they fall, or there’s an indicator of that, and they can get help right away. We know a lot of families are under tight budgets, fixed incomes, things like that, so we do offer our service anywhere from just a couple hours a week all the way to 24/7.

A medical alert system is a great way to help the family save money so they don’t need a caregiver all the time.

JUSTIN: Awesome. Do you have any general tips for family caregivers? Things that can make it easier to care for a loved one?

JENNY: My biggest tip for family caregivers is to be patient and go slowly. I know it’s really tough to do that. We have a lot to do, a lot to get done during the day as people in general.

When you’re caring for a family member, you really have to step back and take a deep breath and have patience with yourself and have patience with them to get things done.

You have to hold up someone else’s dignity and allow them to do as much as they can. Really allow them to do as much as they can, don’t try to step in and take over everything. That patience is just I think the most important.


You have to hold up someone else’s dignity and allow them to do as much as they can. Really allow them to do as much as they can, don’t try to step in and take over everything.


JUSTIN: Yes, most definitely. Are there any helpful resources that you’d like to share for those interested in these kinds of services?

JENNY: Yeah, I think in addition to having Senior Helpers come into the home and having Bay Alarm Medical as an alert system, we’re lucky that we live in Contra Costa County. There’s a Contra Costa County Fall Prevention Program.

And also Meals on Wheels, which is another way to save money if you don’t need a caregiver to cook 3 meals a day. Finding out about Meals on Wheels is another great option. Their phone number is 925-937-8311.

Also, if you’re dealing with someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a great resource.

They have social workers you can call. There’s educational information that they provide. We are an affiliate office of the Alzheimer’s Foundation so we have their education materials here in our office. But you can also call them at 866-232-8484 or visit them on the web at alzfdn.org.

And my number if anyone is interested in home care is 925-677-2150.

JUSTIN: Ok, I’d just like to wrap that up for today. I would like to thank you, Jenny, again for joining us on today’s interview. I can’t wait to share your great advice with our community of seniors and their families.

If you would like to get more information about Senior Helpers you can find them online at www.seniorhelpers.com, or give them a call at 800-760-6389.

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