Filling Gaps in Home Care: Connecting Recipients with Passionate Caregivers

Home care is essential for many disabled, elderly, and chronically ill people who need assistance with daily living. In-home care also helps people with special needs maintain some independence and continue living in their communities. However, despite the crucial nature of this service, there are currently not enough home care workers to fulfill the demand for care in Minnesota.[1]

 

Recipients of home health care often experience dangerous gaps in service due to absent or unavailable caregivers. The majority of home health agencies undergo significant turnover and employ mostly part-time personal care assistants (PCAs). Many PCAs work part-time for as few as 10 or 20 hours per week.

 

It needs to be easier for PCAs who want to work more hours to do so. But it is also essential to give workers the option of providing in-home supportive services on a part-time basis, and open the door for more qualified, passionate people to join the industry.

 

Often, wage increases for home care jobs are suggested as the solution to the problem. While important and deserved in a tough industry with risks of stress and injury, the impact of increased wages would be limited by the following factors:

  • Reimbursement rates for services set by the state limit how much home care agencies can pay workers and still remain in business.
  • The expected raises of approximately $2/hour would not be a sufficient incentive to retain PCAs in caregiver jobs.
  • Most caregivers are not in it for the money, but for the personal fulfillment brought by helping someone in need.

 

So how will we meet Minnesota’s demand for home care? Through a more creative and innovative answer that builds on the last bulleted factor.

 

We should stop treating caregiving like it is just another career, and recognize it for what it really is: a vocation for supportive, compassionate people who desire rewarding work.

 

The home care industry would be hard-pressed to attract new workers to the field with promises of riches and career advancement, but we can offer the happiness that comes from giving one’s time to people who need help.

 

Companies like Uber and Lyft revolutionized the transportation industry by leveraging the convenience and ease of a smartphone application to make drivers out of people who would never be traditional taxi drivers. An app that connects people who are not currently working as PCAs – but who have a desire to provide care – with recipients in need can help to alleviate the home care worker shortage.

 

The PCA On Demand mobile application connects home care recipients with caregivers directly and remotely, allowing them to “self staff” immediately when they need a caregiver.

 

This works to fully utilize the existing PCA workforce by eliminating enrollment barriers and providing an easy, convenient way for recipients and caregivers to connect instantly. Recipients can use the app to search for a caregiver using set criteria or browse through a list of PCAs. Caregivers can create a profile, accept shifts, and receive driving directions using PCA On Demand. Like Uber, this app helps with billing and scheduling to make it as simple as possible to provide part-time, tailored services for those who want to help but may have a full-time job elsewhere.

 

The team at Best Home Care is passionate about supporting personal care assistants and those who benefit from their services. The PCA On Demand mobile application is one of many ways we work to elevate the industry. For more information about home care services, please contact us.

 

[1] Minnesota Department of Human Services’ 2014-2015 Gap Analysis

Identifying and Mitigating Caregiver Burnout

Caregiver BurnoutBest Home Care specializes in all aspects of homecare services. We understand both sides of homecare: knowing the importance of a loved one getting the quality homecare that they need, and the caregiver being able to do their best to provide home healthcare while caring for themselves as well. While being a home caregiver is certainly rewarding, we understand that it is no easy job. When a caregiver is stressed, worried, or tired for too long, they may be heading toward a burnout.

 

 

Here are some signs to look out for if you or a caregiver you know is becoming burnt out:

 

  1. Irritation or anger
  2. Withdrawing from family or friends
  3. Changes in eating habits
  4. Lack of motivation
  5. Exhausted emotionally and physically

 

Given how demanding it can be to provide homecare, especially when dealing with a close friend or family member, many caregivers sacrifice their own wellbeing for others. To provide the best homecare, however, balance is needed!

 

If you are a caregiver that is feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or burnt out, here are some steps to take that can make a real difference:

 

  1. Start with Physical Health. Focus on making sure you are eating right and getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. Even just taking 20 minutes to throw in the earbuds and go for a walk can do wonders.
  2. Find Support Groups. There are plenty of support groups that are meant especially for caregivers, and provide a space to talk openly about daily struggles. Having someone to vent and talk to is always helpful with stress.
  3. Seek Professional Help. When things get to be too much, it can be well worth it to see a therapist or psychologist. Not only does it give you someone to talk to, but they can also help you take steps to manage your stress and workload.

 

For more information on homecare services for the elderly, children, or persons with disabilities, or for more on how to avoid getting burnt out as a caregiver, contact us at (651) 330-2550, info@besthomecare.com or visit our website for more on our services.

 

Pets Can Greatly Benefit Home Care Patients

home care services, PCA services, at home care

Many of us have cherished memories of playing with a childhood pet, but did you know that animals have great benefits for home care patients? Studies have consistently shown that having pets in the home has a positive impact on an individual’s emotional health. This boost in spirits is especially noticeable for those receiving in-home care and can have a real influence on their overall health.

 
Pets help fight back against one of the most common struggles that those receiving home care services face: depression. According to Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression research Clinic Program at UCLA, “Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression.” In addition, this unconditional love can help reduce stress and improve a person’s mood.

 
The home care professionals here at Best Home Care are all animal lovers and many have pets of their own. We understand the joy that a pet can bring and encourage our personal care assistants to incorporate animals into their home care plans when able. Here are some ways that pets can enhance a home care plan:

 

Alzheimer’s Home Care and Pets

Studies have shown that pets can reduce the number of anxious outbursts of Alzheimer’s patients if there is an animal in the home. The companionship of having a pet can also trigger pleasant memories and improve the mood of the home care patient.

Increased Exercise

Taking a dog on a walk is a fantastic activity for home care patients that are able. Along with exercise, simply getting outside can improve a senior home care patient’s demeanor and can encourage them to take part in social activities.

Heart Disease Protection

Several studies have shown a link between pet ownership and a reduced risk of heart disease. In addition, having a dog or a cat has been shown to increase the likelihood of surviving a heart attack.

 
While pets can have health benefits, they may not be a smart choice for your home care patient. To learn more about the benefits of pet ownership and if an animal is a good fit for a specific home care plan contact Best Home Care!
 

If you or a loved one is interested in getting a pet we encourage you to contact your local humane society.

PCA Choice vs Traditional PCA – Which is Right for Your Home Care Services?

How Home Care Workers Ease the Caregiving Burden of Alzheimer’s Disease - home dementia careIn order to receive home care services in the state of Minnesota, individuals must work with a PCA provider agency that is enrolled with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). Then they need to decide whether they will work with a PCA Choice or Traditional PCA Agency. While this process helps to ensure that people have choices in how their services are delivered, it can also be rather confusing. We here at Best Home Care provide educational tools to make it easier to understand the complexities of home care. Below is an overview of the two kinds of PCA provider options available to Minnesotans:

PCA Choice

The PCA Choice option gives people more control of their at home care than the Traditional PCA model. People on the PCA Choice model receive less frequent qualified professional or nurse visits, as they are the ones primarily responsible for their care. PCA Choice recipients are also responsible for:

  • Hiring, training, supervising and scheduling their staff
  • Maintaining a written agreement with their PCA Choice provider agency
  • Working with their PCA to make sure their health and safety needs are met
  • Developing their own home care plan
  • Providing their own back up staffing in case of an emergency

Traditional PCA

Under this option, the provider agency (either a Personal Care Provider Organization or a Medicare-certified Home Health Agency) is responsible for the administrative tasks surrounding the personal care assistant providing care. People on the PCA Traditional model receive more frequent qualified professional or nurse visits so the agency can be sure services are meeting care plan goals. The agency is also responsible for:

  • Hiring, training, supervising and scheduling staff
  • Monitoring and evaluating PCA staff to ensure care plan goals are being met
  • Developing a care plan to meet the goals identified at the nurse assessment
  • Maintaining back up staffing in case of an emergency

NOTE: Under either the PCA Choice or Traditional PCA models people are entitled to have a caregiver of their choosing. Meaning whether you are PCA Choice or PCA Traditional you get to choose your caregiver, and can have that caregiver be your close friend or relative.

What is the PCA Agency Responsible for?

Home care agencies have several responsibilities whether they are a Traditional or PCA Choice agency. All Minnesota PCA agencies must:

  • Perform criminal background checks on PCAs
  • Ensure workers have completed proper PCA training
  • Provide qualified professional supervision
  • Pay and withhold taxes for PCAs
  • Bill the State for completed services
  • Maintain written agreements with clients and PCAs
  • Maintain documentation of services including timesheets
  • Maintain enrollment with the Department of Human Services

Best Home Care is proud to be a PCA Choice and Traditional PCA provider agency. We’ve helped hundreds of people find the home care solutions they need and we look forward to helping you! Contact our home care professionals to learn more about PCA Choice and Traditional PCA options and find which one is right for you.

Let’s Talk About The Minnesota PCA Assessment

bigstock-nursing-home-9313976 - home care health servicesA question we hear at Best Home Care nearly everyday is: “What do I need to do in order to begin home care services?” While everybody’s path to in-home supportive services is slightly different, the MN PCA Assessment is something that all interested in home care must complete. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the PCA assessment according to the MN Department of Human Services.

What is the PCA assessment?

The Minnesota PCA Assessment is an evaluation of your home health to see if PCA services are right for you. The assessment is completed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

What happens at the assessment?

An assessor will visit your home for about an hour to review your daily needs and health. He or she will ask about the types of help you need, your medications, your health, and your behavior. The assessor will also inform you of various home care programs and services that may benefit your specific situation.

What about after the assessment?

You will receive a copy of your PCA assessment and home care service plan within 10 days following the assessment. A service authorization letter stating how much PCA time you qualify for will also be included. You will then need to choose a home care provider agency and schedule your services.

How often do I need to complete an assessment?

Assessments must be done yearly or whenever your health changes significantly.

Click here to learn more and schedule a PCA assessment

Best Home Care has created an online self-assessment tool for those interested in PCA services. While you won’t be able to use this assessment as an official means of obtaining home care services, it will give you a good idea of how many hours of home care you could qualify for.

Take the Best Home Care Self-Assessment Now!

Have more questions? Contact the home care professionals at Best Home Care! We will walk you through the entire PCA assessment process and ensure that you receive the correct amount of home care service hours.

Best Home Care Celebrates a Decade of Providing Home Care Services!

Minneapolis Home Care Agency. Home Care Agency in the Twin CitiesIn 2005, Andre Best set out to pioneer a different kind of home care agency in Minneapolis that emphasized credibility and ethical business practices. A lawyer by trade with no background in home health, Best wanted to provide a safe haven for personal care assistants and home care patients in an industry that had become littered with fraudulent practices. While many things have changed over the last decade, Best has remained true to his company’s name providing the best in quality home care with integrity.

Best Home Care began with $10,000 and no home health clients to speak of. With the support of family and friends and a desire to help people in need, Best (who had never started a small business before) grew his home health company fast. Today, the Minneapolis home care agency employs 330 part- and full-time employees who serve several hundred home care clients around the Twin Cities.

In a world where 80% of new businesses fail within 18 months, how was an upstart home care agency able to find such success? By providing their customers with what they truly want: a trustworthy and ethical service to protect their health and well-being.

In 2014, the state of Minnesota spent $600 million on home care programs and it’s estimated that 10% of this spending was fraudulent charges by owners or personal care attendants over-billing for home care services. This has left many skeptical about whom exactly they put their trust in. But Andre has taken every measure to ensure that his company is the most ethical home care agency in the Twin Cities.

A landmark moment for Best Home Care came with the introduction of the agency’s timesheet app for smartphones. The app provides an easily auditable record of all services billed to the state, and produces a digital record of the care that patients receive which can then be compared to their home care plans. This app holds great potential to end the fraudulent home care practices in Minnesota and throughout the country.

As we head into our next decade of business, we’d like to thank you for trusting us with your home care needs. This is a responsibility that we don’t take lightly and we promise to continue to provide you the highest quality home care services with integrity and honesty.

Top Trends in Technology and Home Care

Tech Trends in Home CareEven a veteran in the home care industry benefits greatly from additional resources and the occasional break. Today, there is a growing industry of supportive technology designed to assist both personal care assistants and the individuals they serve.

Sensors

Smart sensors are quickly becoming one of the biggest players in home health care technology. Evolving from the classic emergency buttons available to seniors, these sensor systems can now help home care patients track their health, monitor activities, and even alert caregivers that something may be wrong before an accident occurs.

Sensor systems range from activity trackers that monitor events like missing a meal or medication, abnormal physical signs, and home entrances and exits to GPS and video systems that allow family caregivers to quickly locate and assist a loved one.

Home Helpers

The friendly and popular Roomba robot, a small machine programed to clean floors without supervision or physical interaction, has been joined by a whole host of other devices that help around the house.

Cleaning robots can save both home care providers and recipients time and energy with pre-programmed routines. Other supportive machines can translate common sounds such as a doorbell or telephone into a visual alert for the hearing impaired. For those who are receiving home care and are comfortable with technology, intelligent personal assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa can answer questions, set reminders, add items to shopping lists, and much more with a simple voice command.

Socializers

Skype, FaceTime, and other video call technology has been very valuable for home care patients who live far away from loved ones or find it difficult to leave the house often. That technology has been joined by senior-friendly social media sites, smartphone applications, and even “telehealth” systems that allow individuals to have face-to-face interactions with healthcare specialists remotely.

Learn more about the quickly expanding world of supportive home care technology or other home care solutions by connecting with the Best Home Care team today.

The Dos and Don’ts of Being a PCA: Don’t Try to Do Too Much

Five Things Every New Family Caregiver Needs to Know  - personal care providersAs any medical professional will tell you, proving health care is a lot of work. As a personal care assistant you have likely experienced this first-hand. From early morning medication assistance to late night emergency calls, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by everything there is to do. This feeling of being overworked will only get worse the more home care patients you are responsible for.

It should come as no surprise that caregiver burnout is one of the most common ailments faced by home care specialists today. According to WebMD, caregiver burnout is “a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude — from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned.” The accompanying feelings of fatigue, stress, anxiety, and depression are most often caused by a home care provider trying to do more than they are capable of.

So How Can I Avoid Caregiver Burnout?

  • Be Realistic – Set realistic expectations for your daily home care services and be okay waiting till tomorrow to finish a non-essential tasks.
  • Have a Schedule – Establish a realistic home health care plan every week that includes when you will arrive and when you will leave. Then stick to it!
  • Ask For Help – Be willing to seek out assistance for in home supportive services if you start feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take Time for Yourself – Schedule time each week to do something you enjoy and make it a priority.

While it’s wise to prioritize your patient’s home health, you must remember that if you aren’t healthy your home care services will suffer as a result. Make a plan to avoid caregiver burnout so you can keep providing the best home care possible to your patients.

Contact Best Home Care or visit our Support for Caregivers page for more tips on how to avoid caregiver burnout and stay healthy while providing home care.

 

Home Caregiving in Minnesota: By the Numbers

studying-703002_1280As a Minneapolis home care agency, Best Home Care is proud of the state we call home. Even though the winters can be nothing short of brutal, Minnesota is a wonderful place to live, work, and play any time of year. We may be biased but we believe that Minnesotans are the nicest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. Visit anywhere else in the world and you’ll soon understand the meaning of “Minnesota Nice.”

This Minnesota Nice mindset doesn’t end with the people that live here. Our state has some of the friendliest home care programs to support personal care assistants and informal family caregivers. In fact, Minnesota was one of the first states to adopt Medicaid’s Cash and Counseling Program that provides elderly and disabled individuals funding to pay for home care services.

As a result of these great programs, Minnesota has one of the strongest work forces of home care professionals in the country. Here are some fast facts on Minnesota caregivers from 2014:

  • 503,500 informal caregivers provided 539 million hours of home care
  • $5.3 billion is the estimated value of this informal caregiving
  • 8.1% of disabled Minnesotans age 18-64 received some form of at home care
  • 31.8% of disabled Minnesotans age 64+ received at home care
  • $30 is the average hourly cost for home health care
  • $10.80 is the median hourly wage for personal care assistants and home care aides

*Source: Caregiver.org

It is interesting to note that the median hourly wage for personal care assistants in Minnesota has consistently been a dollar or more above the national average for the past 5 years.

Best Home Care is a proud member of the Minnesota Home Care Association and serves the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs. Contact us to learn more about Best Home Care including: how to transfer to our Minnesota home care agency as a personal care assistant or how professional home care services can benefit you or a loved one.

A Big Thank You to the Incredible Women Providing Caregiving Services

Five Things Every New Family Caregiver Needs to Know  - personal care providersWith Mother’s Day this past weekend, all of us at Best Home Care wanted to take a moment to acknowledge every female caregiver out there. According to the Family Caregiving Alliance, women account for 66% of all caregivers in the United States. This number has grown steadily as baby-boomers reach retirement age and require in-home supportive services, typically given by their daughters.

In the US, the average caregiver is a 49-year-old woman who is married, employed, and cares for her 70-year-old mother. While there are many men that work as personal care assistants or provide home care for a family member, women spend much more time providing personal care services. On average, a female caregiver spends nearly 50% more time providing at-home care than her male counterpart.

This increase in time spent caregiving will often test her formal employment responsibilities. In fact, caring for a family member will reduce a middle-aged woman’s paid work hours by nearly 41%. This decrease in paid hours results in an average loss of $324,044 in wages and Social Security benefits.

Lost money isn’t the only negative affect of caring for a family member. A study was done to shed light on how providing home care for a family member affected a caregiver’s ability to advance in his or her career. Of the 1,509 women surveyed:

  • 29% passed up a job promotion due to caregiving responsibilities
  • 20% switched from full-time to part-time employment
  • 16% quit their jobs
  • 13% retired early

At Best Home Care, we understand these extra struggles that female personal care assistants face. Your work is very vitally important and life changing for those you care for and we seek to help you in any way we can.

Best Home Care provides free caregiver resources for PCAs, including specific support for those suffering from caregiver burnout and stress. Our new white paper is another great resource for caregivers looking for ways to get paid for taking care of a family member. Contact Best Home Care to learn more about how we can help manage your home care services.