What To Know When Using Elder Care Services


Elder care services cover a wide range of needs, but not all home care agencies are created equal. Having a general overview of what to know when using elder care services will help as you begin selecting the right caregiving agency and services for your loved one.

Before reviewing the most common services available to you, there are two general topics worth thinking about — paying for elder care services and understanding minimum service windows.

Paying for Elder Care Services

We understand quality care is the priority, and cost considerations are a close second. Visit our post, Paying for Senior Care: Medicare, Medicaid, and Homecare, where we share a variety of potential resources to fund elder care services.

Understanding Minimum Service Windows

Most home care providers have minimum service windows, typically around four hours. So, if you wanted to start by scheduling wellness checks once per week, you won’t be able to pay for a single hour of services. Rather, you’ll pay for a minimum service window, allowing your senior loved one to get to know his/her caregivers better.

Even something as simple as sitting in quiet companionship tracking birds at the backyard bird feeders or watching a movie together can add a remarkable boost of positive energy into a senior’s life.

Meet the Spectrum of Elder Care Services

Familiarize yourself with the types of services available to you, and talk them over with your loved one and the rest of the family to determine which ones make the most sense.

Holding a proactive and long-term view will frame how the services you select today may change or expand over time, in response to the client’s evolving age-related needs.

There are three general categories of home care, and each one has its own menu of services clients can choose from:

Non-Medical Home Care

These services are all about the senior’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, but they do not encompass direct medical care offerings.

The most popular services offered in the non-medical services bracket are:

Companion services

The services included in the companionship category are dedicated to social stimulation, listening, and caring for the heart and soul of the individual, rather than providing direct physical care (see next). As a result, this is considered a hands-off service, and caregivers do not initiate touch.

Companions are there to provide conversation, company, and to partner with clients for activities such as playing games, cards, TV or movie watching, going out for meals, reading together, and so on. They can be scheduled multiple times a month or daily. Companion services are especially helpful for seniors who live alone and/or can no longer drive safely.

Consistent, person-to-person connection fosters positive engagement and also serves as a routine check-in, so any red flags can be shared with the home care agency and the family. That way, any signs indicating a senior needs more support to remain safely and independently at home are addressed before negatively impacting his/her overall health, safety, or wellbeing.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for a client to start with companion services that also include one or two services from the personal care offerings. Over time, personal care needs are added upon request.

Personal care services

Personal care services are more hands-on by nature. Trained caregivers provide any number of personal (non-medical) services to keep clients and their environments clean, safe, and comfortable. This includes things like:

  • Bathing, dressing, general hygiene
  • Medication reminders
  • Meal prep and sharing a meal during the shift
  • Partnering with Uber Health* for errands and transportation to appointments, social outings, religious services, etc.
  • Mobility support
  • Toileting and changing
  • Basic laundry/linen changes
  • Light housekeeping

These services can be added as needed. We strive to accommodate personal requests whenever we can if they can be built into a shift.

*The patient and care provider may also agree to use the patient’s personal vehicle or the care provider’s vehicle (the patient would be responsible for paying mileage costs).

Respite care

Respite care is designed to relieve full-time spouse or family caregivers. In addition to minimizing the risk of caregiver fatigue or burnout, respite care services allow caregivers to attend their own appointments, family events, to get a weekend away, or to take a full-blown vacation.

Using a licensed home care agency for respite care is also a smart way to get your feet wet in the stream of professional elder care services. Developing a rapport and bond with respite care providers make for easier future transitions if/when you need to take advantage of further home care service offerings down the road.

Welcome Home program (post-hospital recuperative care)

This one-time service is another way to dabble in elder care services to see what it’s like. The Welcome Home Program is a four-hour minimum service ensuring adults and seniors have safe transportation from hospital or rehab facility to home, as well as:

  • Prescription fills/pickups
  • Changing clothes and linens
  • Stocking the fridge/pantry with food
  • Meal preparation
  • Assistance with bathing
  • Companionship while getting client comfortably settled in their home

In addition to helping the client settle in, our Welcome Home Program brings peace of mind to full-time working family or long-distance family, knowing their loved one is taken care of.

Home health care

Home health care is a completely different realm of home care services. While non-medical home care providers often work in tandem with medically-licensed home health care providers, regular home care aides are not allowed to perform tasks that are considered medical in nature.

Health care tasks include tasks such as:

  • Administering medication
  • Symptom diagnosis/treatment
  • Wound care
  • Support with IV care or injections (including insulin shots)
  • Speech/physical or occupational therapy

If your loved one requires any of the above or other skilled nursing services, you’ll want to get in touch with a home health care provider (read Home Care vs. Home Health Care to learn more about how the two services differ, and how you can blend home care and skilled nursing services if necessary.

Explore Elder Care Services For Your Loved One

We understand that pursuing elder care services for your loved one is a major decision that requires substantial information and consideration. Georgetown Home Care wants to make that decision easier for you and your loved one so that you can proceed confidently, knowing that your loved one is receiving the care he/she deserves.

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