Home health care advice

January 10, 2009 6:08:06 AM PST
Partners in Care, the nation's largest not-for-profit provider of private, personal and medical home health services is celebrating its 25th year as an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. RN, BSN and case manager for Partners in Care, Hillory Thorpe, joined us with tips for finding the perfect health care worker for your family. What is home health care and who would it benefit?
Home health care is health care that is provided in the home. Home health care ranges from the simple to the complex. People who would benefit from home health care are those who have chronic complex medical needs which require ongoing monitoring and care. These clients usually prefer to remain at home rather than be institutionalized.

How do people find the right home health care aide for their needs?

What are some red flags about hiring an aide?

Why should someone hire a home health aide from an agency instead of someone recommended by a friend?
An agency provides oversight of the skills and competency of the person who will be providing care. The agency is responsible for ensuring that the home health aide has the required skills that are necessary to care for the needs of the patient. Hiring someone who is recommended by a friend puts the burden of screening for competence on the family member.

What does a home health aide provide their patient?
The home health aide provides peace of mind for the client and family that the day-to-day tasks to maintain activities of daily living are accomplished. It is important to understand the scope of practice of the home health aide is limited to what is authorized by the department of health. As a matter of fact, that is one of the benefits of hiring through an agency. During the initial intake process, the screener can guide the family to the right level of care for the patient based on the initial interview. If the patient needs are more than what can be supplied by the home health aide, the screener will inform the family and then move them through the levels of care providers, from licensed practical nurses, registered nurses and other allied health professionals. Home health care operates by mandates and care can only be provided by the appropriate level.

What do you look for when hiring a home health aide?
We look for people who demonstrate patience, are caring and compassion. We go so far as to have them write an essay describing why they have decided to become home health aides. That essay is carefully screened and only those home health aides that demonstrate the attitude of caring and compassion are offered training.

How are your home health aides trained?
Our home health aides are trained in-house. They are trained in basic care of clients including providing baths, making meals, monitoring and reporting. The training of a home health is mandated by NYSDOH and there are certain requirements that the aide must complete to be considered certifiable by NYSDOH. Partners in Care provide all the required training and go so far a to provide an additional 10 hours over and beyond the state mandate

How are your home health aides screened?
The screening process includes all the required federal and state guidelines including I9 verification. The aides have to undergo a physical and drug screen. All aides have to be able to read and understand English. There is a also a social security check. This check tells us where the aides have lived and worked previously. After the social security check, we complete a criminal background check in all the states and counties where the aides have lived and worked. We check personal and work references and conduct a check through the national system utilizing the FBI. We also require proof of address.


Partners In Care, the nation's largest not-for-profit provider of private personal and medical home health care services, celebrates its 25th year as an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. The Visiting Nurse Service is the oldest in New York, having been founded in 1893 by Lillan Wald and Mary Brewster. With over 6,000 home health aides (HHA) employed at Partners In Care, the agency is proud of their affiliation and position as one of the most well-respected and loved agencies in the New York area.

The life of an HHA is not an easy one, yet these aides continuously put smiles on their faces and are extremely dedicated to their work. Just to get started they must go through an intense three-week training program that requires 114 hours of training - 39 more hours than mandated by the State of New York. From there, a typical day might include changing soiled linens, diapers and bedpans, cooking, shopping and dealing with a client suffering from dementia. They also make sure the client takes their medications and help with physical rehabilitation.

It clearly takes a special type of person to do this job. "We look for people with caring attitudes, who are interested in health care as well as caring for the elderly and the infirm," says Jay Conolly, the director of human resources.

The hard work that these aides do is evident in the results that they get and the bond that they form with their clients. One client praised her aide, Delora, for her work with her mother: "Rather than simply providing passive support, Delora is pro-active and involved in providing the best possible support relevant to my mom's daily needs. She is caring, involved and compassionate and treats my mom as an individual. My mom has not been able to remember people's names for a long time now. These days there has to be a special connection for her to remember a name?and she remembers Delora's name."

For more information about Partners In Care and the services they provide, visit partnersincareny.org.

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