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Learning Center

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the right time to consider Home Care?
As people age, changes in their abilities are often gradual and subtle. That's why it is often difficult for families and care providers to know when a loved one may need help with their daily activities. Home Care might also be something to consider when a loved one is living with family and dependant on them for care. This can become difficult and drain on the family, having home care paraprofessionals help out a few times a week can ease some of the stress and decrease caregiver burnout.

There are certain signs that may indicate a person is having trouble providing their own care. If you answer yes to two or more of the following questions, it might be time to schedule a home-care evaluation for them:

  • Has the person experienced any falls?
  • Has the person lost weight? Are they experiencing a loss of appetite?
  • Does the person live alone with no local family or friends?
  • Is the person becoming increasingly forgetful? Do new situations cause them confusion and/or anxiety?
  • Does the person forget to take their medications?
  • Do you feel uneasy leaving them without supervision?
  • Has there been a change in their personal hygiene? Do they appear to be bathing less often and/or appearing unkempt?
  • Does it appear that the person is experiencing difficulties getting to appointments and/or running errands?
  • Do they need to be in a skilled nursing home but want to stay in their home?

While these are not the only signs that may suggest a person may need help caring for themselves, they are a good starting point when considering home care

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What is custodial care?

Custodial care is care that assists the person in maintaining their environment such as cooking, cleaning and laundry. This is a very important area, especially when Medicare is the insurer. Medicare will only cover the cost of home health care by a certified agency when assistance with activities of daily living such as personal care is required along with a need for skilled care.

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Are home care services covered by insurance or Medicare?
Many long-term care insurance, worker's compensation, and automobile insurance policies will reimburse for these kinds of services. Additionally, funds from Reverse Mortgages, Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts are often used to pay for home care.
Health Force will help you and your family through every step of the often confusing process involved with determining what a policy will actually cover, and we will provide the documentation your insurance company requests.

Medicare does not pay for hourly companion services.

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What is the cost for these services?
Home Care costs vary and we customize a plan of care that is unique to every client, and suitable to your budget. There are a couple of factors that help determine the exact cost- number of hours of care you receive, the level of home care services that are most suitable for you (non-medical companion, hands-on personal care, etc.), and the potential cost subsidized by insurance coverage.
Our services are typically billed on an hourly basis, which is what makes it so easy to customize a plan of care. Also, you often have the choice of multiple levels of care which assures that you are never billed an inflated rate for the services of an over-qualified caregiver.

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Who Pays for Home Care?

  • Medicaid is a state managed program that pays the cost of health care services for people with low incomes.
  • Medicare is a health insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration for which people 65 and over are eligible. It has 2 parts: hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B). Most home care services are paid out of Part A. In most cases, patients are under the care of a home health agency for a limited time, 60 days is the initial "episode". Patients sometimes become very used to having a person assist them with personal care duties and want to continue those services. However, Medicare ONLY covers services associated with the treatment of a condition. Once the patient's goals have been met, the patient is discharged from care. Patients may opt to continue receiving care at their own expense.
  • Private Insurance will usually provide home health coverage if the enrollee has a separate home healthcare rider. Veteran's benefits may also cover home care services. Check individual polices for specific coverage details. If a client requests our assistance with billing a private insurance policy (such as long-term care insurance) for our services, we are happy to help with the entire "benefits coordination" process, including the provision of appropriate documentation so you may be reimbursed by the insurance carrier.
  • Self Pay is an option with all home care services. Check with individual home care providers for services offered and rates.
  • Long Term Care Insurance many policies cover any type of home care while some cover only medically necessary care that might require assistance with activities of daily living. Be sure to check your policy.

Home care services can also be paid for directly by patients and families. Affordable payment plans can be arranged, including credit cards. Since home care benefits and eligibility requirements vary greatly from plan to plan and state to state, your home care agency will help you determine the specific coverage provisions of your plan.

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Why should I use an agency and not hire someone on my own?
Licensed home health agencies are licensed by New York State and have undergone rigorous scrutiny and adhere to strict regulations to ensure client's safety, security and health. Our staff is highly trained and have only been hired after a lengthy process to ensure the highest quality staff are retained. Licensed home health agencies monitor the staff and do the work required to ensure continual care and coverage. Licensed home health agencies carry insurance for liability or in case a worker is injured in the home. They also work in concert with your physician to ensure that optimal health is achieved.

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Do I need a physician's authorization/prescription?

Yes and No - a doctor does not need to write a prescription for services, but we will send a plan of care to the physician who will approve and oversee our care. If Medicare or Medicaid is paying the bill they will require a physician's authorization.

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How Can I Choose A Home Care Provider?

Patients and families should ask questions and make an informed decision, based on the specific needs of the patient. The patient has the right to choose the provider they prefer.

  • Physicians, Hospital Discharge Planners, and friends in the community are good resources.
  • Check to make sure the agency holds a current license. All home care agencies that provide "hands on" care must be licensed by the State. Licensure requires that agencies meet specific standards regarding the administration of the agency, staff competencies, supervision of patient care, and records. Licensed agencies are also required to do FBI criminal background checks on all employees that enter a patient's home as well as verify training, and references. The Department of Health is available to make on-site visits to follow-up any complaints received related to agency care.
  • Agencies that provide Medicare and Medicaid home health services must also be certified by the Federal Government and follow their Conditions of Participation. The Department of Health makes on-site surveys to all licensed and certified agencies to assess the quality of their services.
  • Agencies can also be accredited by nationally recognized accrediting bodies. This is a voluntary process that demonstrates they meet another set of quality standards during on- site surveys

For some additional help on choosing an agency click here.

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Is home health just for seniors?
There is no age range for clients of home health care agencies. Of course, senior citizens are the greater portion of our patients, but many people who need assistance get home health care at any age for themselves, their grandparents, or their infants. It all depends on your needs.

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I have home care from Agency A, but am not happy, what can I do?
Anyone can get home health care from nearly any home health agency (depending on the insurer). If you are not satisfied with the staff or quality of care you are receiving, you should first try contacting the Agency Administrator and voice your concerns. If you are still not satisfied, you can change agencies with a few phone calls. Contact your Doctor, check your local phone book or the internet. Get references if you can and in most cases, another agency can continue services the very next day.

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How do I know if Home Care is right for me or my loved one?
Health Force has no contracts so if you try home care and find it isn't right for you or your loved one - a simple phone call and you can discontinue services.

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Who sets standards and regulates Home Care?

Both New York State and the federal government set standards and regulate home care. Home care agencies and programs differ in the services they provide and the state agency that oversees their operation.

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) sets standards for and regulates all home care agencies that provide health or medically-related services to people in their homes.
DOH and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) jointly regulate agencies participating in the Medicare program. DOH regulations and standards require that home care providers meet the same standards relating to agency establishment, paraprofessional training, quality of care and consumer protection standards including service delivery and personnel requirements.

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My mother needs some help to remain independent in her home but she doesn't need a lot of supervision. Is Home Care right for her?
Definitely. There are many people living independently who need a little help with personal care, housekeeping, errands and other tasks. Health Force offers various types of services to help with these situations. From companion care to personal care we can help keep your mom feeling independent while easing the minds of concerned family members.

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How does Home Care impact independence?
Maintaining independence is one of the number one reasons to choose Home Care. Other alternatives can also provide some independence such as assisted living or a nursing home. However, Home Care is the only option that allows a client to stay in the comfort of their home while empowering them to continue making everyday decisions. They still direct their own care and make the decisions as to what they want to do and when they do it. They are in charge of their care and give direction to the home care worker and our team. Health Force has been assessing clients since 1985 and understands the needs and requirements to ensure the health and safety of the client while being sensitive to securing their independence. We will assist the client, family and physician in developing a level of care and a amount of care that will not threaten a clients' independence but will also provide them the optimal care for what they need.

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How do I determine what level of service my family member needs? What if circumstances change? How can I be sure the services will remain appropriate?
Our home care professionals work as a team, providing a multi-disciplinary approach to each client's care. An RN performs the initial in-home assessment and consults with your loved one's physician to learn about their medical history and current needs. She continues ongoing supervision during the course of care, overseeing the services of home health aides and coordinating the care plan with social workers, providing seamless transitions to new levels of care as needed. These continual assessments ensure that hours and services are appropriately adjusted over time.

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My family member has special needs. Can you provide special services?

Our specially trained and licensed personnel are professionally trained and experienced in helping people with a variety of special needs, including Alzheimer's and other dementia-related illnesses, HIV/AIDS protocols, and special nutritional requirements. Spanish speaking aides are also available.

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If a hospital system has its own home health care agency, how can I receive services from another provider like Health Force?
All patients have the right to choose. Hospitals are governed by laws that protect the patient's right to select the home care agency of their choice, provided the agency is a qualified home care agency and is approved to provide home care services in the patient's county of residence. Hospitals must provide a listing of qualified home care agencies to patients in need of services prior to discharge from the hospital. Patients can request a home care agency at any time during their hospitalization.

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I live too far away from my parents to manage their care and arrange services. What can Health Force do to help me?

We hear this often, and we can do a lot to help. Our nurses perform a comprehensive assessment of each person's needs in the home, evaluating health, social, emotional, environmental and other factors. With instructions from their primary physician, a customized plan of care is discussed with the family prior to beginning service. Our Nurses serve as case manager, assuring coordination of everything the person needs at home, and promotes close communication with the family so that they know what is being provided and the progress of each person.

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How can I help keep my elderly parent/grandparent mentally sharp?
Keeping your loved ones mentally sharp is similar to keeping them healthy. Exercise the brain. Encourage your loved ones to read, play games and challenge themselves every day. If you need someone to spend time with them to play games or encourage reading a home care aide or family member can help keep them mentally active. For more information on how to keep mentally sharp click here.

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Is depression common when home care occurs?
Depression is common with anyone who has lost the ability to do the tasks that so many of us take for granted. Home care can help with that depression by allowing the client to remain independent and in their own home so there is no fear of being placed in a nursing home.

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If there's an accident or emergency, how quickly can your team respond and help my parents out?
Health Force is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. If our offices are closed we always have someone available via our answering service. We usually can respond within minutes.

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How much do your services cost?

Our charges are hourly and the price per hour is based upon the level of care that is required.

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Is assistance available 24/7?
Yes

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How does it work? How do I get started?

Contact our office - we will have an RN visit for a free assessment and we will start services as soon as you indicate

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