You’ve finally found a great home care agency for you and you’re anxious to get the service started. However, before home care starts, the agency should discuss your specific needs and preferences with you to ensure they can meet your expectations. This initial communication is vitally important to receiving great home care. The list below covers the basic topics that should be covered before home care service starts.
Medications Make sure you let them know all medications you are required to take, when they need to be taken and in what amounts. Also, let them know how you prefer to take medication - with water, juice, etc.
Diet Communicate to the home care agency your food allergies, likes and dislikes. Be detailed as possible. Tell them when you like to eat and what you want to eat and drink for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Tell them if and when you like to drink coffee, tea or juice; if you like to have treats; if you like to eat out and where.
Meal Preparation and Meals Communicate to the home care agency and your caregiver if you prefer to prepare meals yourself, need a little assistance or want the caregiver to do all the preparation and cooking. Also, specify if you need help eating – the caregiver can cut the food into small pieces or even assist getting the food to your mouth.
Sleeping Habits What time do you like to sleep and to wake up? Do you like to nap and for how long? Do you have any routine you need help with to prepare for bed? Do you wake up in the middle of the night or sleep all way through?
Bathroom Needs and Habits What assistance do you need to use the bathroom? Are you completely independent or do you need assistance getting to the toilet, removing pants and undergarments, sitting down or getting up from the toilet, reaching for toilet paper, cleaning, washing afterward?
Bathing, Dressing and Grooming Do you need assistance getting into the shower or tub? Do you need assistance with bathing or just want the caregiver to be on standby? Do you need help dressing and undressing or do you just have trouble with buttons, zippers or other fasteners? Do you need assistance with brushing your hair and teeth or shaving?
Household Chores What assistance do you need in tidying up the house – how often do you want the bed linen changed, the laundry washed, the dusting and vacuuming done. Do you want the caregiver to make the bed or do you prefer to do it yourself?
In-Home Activities What are your favorite TV shows, radio stations, card or board games? What do you enjoy doing at home? Do you like to read books, magazines or newspapers; do you like to surf the Internet; do you like doing crossword puzzles? Do you have any hobbies you like to do and need assistance with? What about dislikes? Does it bother you when the TV or radio is on? Do you prefer to be left alone or do you want the caregiver to have conversations with you?
Exercise and Outside Recreation Do you have an exercise routine you need assistance with? Should the caregiver encourage you to get up and walk around? Do you like to take walks, and if so, where and for how long? What about outings to the mall, the park, a museum, or a movie? Do you like going to a senior center or visiting friends and relatives?
Emergency Contacts This list should include key family members or friends who can be called in an emergency. This list should also include your primary care doctor and other medical specialists. Provide the agency with the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses if appropriate.
A successful home care experience is a shared responsibility between you, the senior home care agency and the caregiver. Building a positive relationship with them will help you become comfortable and happy in this new setting. Share detailed and honest information with the agency and caregiver. On-going communication is the vital link that ensures that they can be as responsive as possible to your needs.