If you have a loved one who has either a temporary need for in-home assistance due to a medical condition such as recovery from an operation or an ongoing long-term need for assistance, home care may be the best answer.

Home care enables one to stay in their home and familiar surroundings and get the type of support they need to remain at home safely and comfortably. It is important to note that while “home” might be in a person’s house, “home” might also be an apartment in a senior living community. Home care services can relieve the burden and stress on a family by taking care of certain needs, enabling family members to focus on supporting to their loved one and providing peace of mind to all concerned.

When the time comes for families to turn to home care for their loved one it can seem confusing and overwhelming. Questions come up such as “What home care services are covered by Medicare?” and “What are the options for Private Pay home care?”

Medicare covers needed skilled care such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and hospice care. An “event” like a hospitalization or a change in a person’s condition must occur before Medicare will consider covering those services. Additionally, a physician’s order is required for any Medicare covered services.

Home care agencies will hold one of two levels of license offered by the state of Minnesota. These two levels are a basic license or a comprehensive license. Agencies that hold a basic license can provide basic hands-on personal cares (there is no medication administration or help with transfers). Eligible services include such things as light housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation and transportation. Agencies with a comprehensive license can assist or provide any type of hands-on care needed. This includes transfers and medication administration as well as all the previously mentioned services the basic license allows.

Private Pay home care agencies can provide as little as one hour of care a day up to 24-hour live-in care depending upon the needs of a client. Fees for home care services vary from agency to agency. Basic home care can range from $20-$30 per hour and the range for comprehensive home care is generally $35-$45 per hour. Live-in home care services are usually charged by the day in the range of $375-$450 per day.

Families need to understand that they always have a choice — for both Medicare services or if you are going to use the services of a Private Pay home care agency. Your physician, a social worker, discharge planner, etc. may give you the name of a single agency they use as a preferred provider. However, that agency may not be the best fit for your needs or might not have the availability you need. It is recommended that you talk to at least three different home care agencies to find the one you feel would be the best fit for your loved one. Any agency should be able to provide a list of references as well as offer a no cost/no obligation assessment which will help to answer your questions.

Christine Peterson is with Home Care Solutions. She can be reached at 612-834-3379 or christine.homecaresolutions@gmail.com.

EPPIA is a networking group whose members are committed to the welfare of seniors in our community. EPPIA members meet to learn, exchange information and discuss issues in the field of aging. For more information on EPPIA and local senior resources, please visit our website at www.edenprairieaging.org.

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