Many times, when in the process of looking for a professional caregiver for their elderly loved ones, people say, “But why does it cost so much?” Indeed, when I used to do discharge planning as a long-term care social worker, I would hand the families of patients homecare brochures, only to see their eyes bulge when they saw the prices. It’s true that the average cost for a home health aide at the time of this writing is $21 an hour, and that’s not even counting the rate for RN’s (Registered Nurses), LPN’s (Licensed Practical Nurses) and various types of therapists. But it’s also true that hourly care is one of the most cost-effective services you can buy.
You pay for education
Unlike informal caregivers, reputable ones have the education and background to look after your senior properly. Most CNA’s are required to have, at the very least, a high school diploma. However, many go beyond this to complete associate’s degrees. In addition, they may have other requirements mandated by the state in which they work, or by their particular employer (CPR certification and other emergency training is a common example). Finally, they may have to take competency exams in order to receive their initial CNA license or certificate.
You pay for licensing
Most states require that CNA’s, like others who provide medical auxiliary services, be licensed or certified. In addition to the education and training requirements discussed above, licensure often involves an extensive background check, so you can be confident any aide you hire is not a threat to your loved one. If a person has a criminal background, or complaints were filed against them, the licensing or accreditation board will most likely have a record of it. You can then decide whether or not to hire that particular individual. With informal caregivers, you probably won’t have the kind of information a licensing board can provide about a potential hire.
You pay for insurance
Insurance is an important thing to consider when contracting for hourly care. And while most reputable home health agencies are sure to have it, informal caregivers almost never do. Insurance can protect you and your loved one in a number of ways. It provides a means to collect on a claim if the aide injures your senior during the course of care, or the aide’s inaction leads the senior to suffer irreparable harm.
Certain types of insurance and worker’s compensation also protect you if the aide is injured in your home while performing his or her duties. Without these insurances, you or your senior may run into costly situations where you must pay out-of-pocket for astronomical, unexpected expenses. When you consider the relatively lower (and more fixed) hourly rate that you’re charged, you’re almost certainly getting a bargain!
You pay for peace of mind
Sometimes, the cost of not having hourly care in terms of tragedy befalling your senior is far worse than a few dollars an hour. Never mind the enormous bills for expenses related to hospitals, physical therapy, medical equipment, and prescriptions that may result from a simple fall. You can’t even begin to measure the emotional and psychological cost of your loved one never walking again, or weakness from the fall leading to a long, slow decline in health. Shown in this light, it’s clear that hourly care is actually a very cost-effective option!
Hourly care is often worth the cost
Going back over this information, it’s easy to see why hourly care costs so much. For every dollar you spend, you’re getting much more back in terms of the quality of service you can expect. Add to that the fact that care at home can often prevent or delay the need for a nursing home, and you can see why so many seniors and their families consider this option. Take some time and decide what’s right for you and your loved one, but know that hourly care often pays in ways you can’t even begin to measure.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.