What is Home Care

What is Home Care?

A personal care/private duty homecare agency provides services that do not require a licensed professional or a physician's prescription. A homecare worker can help a person with activities of daily living (ADLs) like remembering to take medications, preparing meals, transferring from a chair, toilet or bed, bathing, getting dressed, light housekeeping or transportation to and from doctor's appointments. A homecare worker can also provide companionship to an older adult or an adult with a disability. Personal Care or assistance with activities of daily living (where the caregiver touches the client) requires a certified home health aide in NJ. This is provided by a health care service firm, which is licensed by the Division of Consumer Affairs. Personal care is different from nursing care, where a registered nurse cares for the patient’s medical needs. Patients should be well-informed before they choose an aide provider. A health care service firm places or arranges for the placement of personnel to provide health care or personal care services in the residence of individuals – they actually employ the aide and provide training and criminal background checks of aides, which mere “registries” may not. Ask whether an aide is certified (has completed a state-defined training program).

Home Care providers are required to be accredited.  Common accreditations include the Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP), and The Joint Commission (TJC), Commission on Accreditation for Home Care (CAHC), The National Institute for Home Care Accreditation (NIHCA).

What's the cost and is it covered by insurance?

This type of homecare is not covered by Medicare and is usually paid for by the consumer. However, there are two government-funded programs that can help. The Medicaid Aging Waiver and the lottery-funded OPTIONS program may pay for this care for eligible individuals.

Services provided by personal care/private duty homecare agencies are sometimes referred to as custodial care, assistance with activities of daily living (ADL) tasks or instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) tasks. If the person requiring care has long-term care insurance, homecare services may be covered. Call the insurance provider to find out.

How to find a personal care/private duty homecare agency

Some agencies are franchises, while others are independently owned. You will also find that some home health agencies also offer this type of personal care. The Home Care & Hospice Association of NJ website includes a “Find a Provider” feature where you can search for an agency by location or by the services needed.

What to ask

When you interview personal care/private duty homecare agencies, there are a number of important questions to ask:

  • May I see a sample service agreement and a listing of your prices?
  • Are you licensed?
  • How do you supervise and oversee the care provided by your caregivers?
  • Are your services covered by long-term care insurance and will you process the paperwork?
  • Are the caregivers your employees or are you a referral agency (a registry)?
  • What type of training do your employees receive when they're hired? Do you provide ongoing training? Please describe it.
  • Are your employees bonded?
  • How long have most of your employees worked for you?
  • How do you ensure that the caregiver and the person receiving care will be compatible?
  • What happens if the caregiver doesn't show up?
  • Please describe how workers have been trained to communicate with people who have cognitive (thinking) disabilities such as dementia.
  • If you provide transportation, have you checked out your caregivers' driving records?
  • What kind of weekly (or daily) report will I receive?
  • Can you put me in touch with someone who has used your services?
  • Have you received any type of national accreditation?

What is Companion Care?

Companion Care is provided by some non-licensed agencies. A companion may provide services like laundry, medication reminders, escort or transport client to and from appointments or meal preparation. A companion is not necessarily licensed by NJ. He/she may not touch the client. This includes bathing a client, transferring a client, assisting with toilet, changing continence-wear or dressing clients. Companions are generally not supervised by nurses at all or on a regular basis.