Tough economic times have more and more families responsible for the care of aging parents. The term Sandwich Generation highlights a growing demographic of middle agers caring simultaneously for children and for ailing parents.
Recent census statistics show that more than 25% of American families are connected in various manners for the care of an aging parent. Health degradation can be a gradual process but most issues arrive suddenly, leaving many unprepared. Poor health and a difficult economy only compounds stress, especially for the primary caregiver.
What is a sandwich caregiver to do? The first step is to be aware of senior issues and what older adults fear most. The number one fear is losing a driver’s license. This is a symptom of a greater subset – fear of losing one’s independence. The second worry facing seniors is outliving their retirement savings.
The next step is to prepare and plan sooner than later. Health and financial problems are inevitable sometime in life, especially in the golden years. Proactive planning can help a family prepare for these events, and thus reduce stress levels when issues arise.
Proactive planning begins with an empathetic conversation with your parent. There is a tendency to treat your aging parent like a child. This is a surefire way to disrupt cooperation and collaboration. Make the discussion a team effort remembering the viewpoint of your parent – they don’t want to lose their independence and more importantly, they do not want to be a burden.
The team at Serenity Home Health and Senior Care in Wichita, Kansas understand these issues and we are here to help. Our professional caregivers come from a wide range of health care backgrounds and education, and our social workers are experienced advisors. Statistics show that when professional health care is employed in the home, health improves, nutritional awareness improves and the relationship between family members improves. The aging parent no longer feels like a burden to family members and they are able to remain at home, independent for a much longer period of time.
Serenity Home Health provides home health care and in home services in Wichita and its surrounding areas. If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call (316) 866-2929 or visit our office at 453 S. Webb Road, suite 410.
The Wichita Business Journal has released its annual ranking of home health care agencies serving Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Sumner counties. The rankings are based on the number of patients served for 2009. Serenity Home Health has moved to 8th in the rankings, improving over last year’s 10th place ranking.
Serenity Home Health has grown to 93 employees serving 788 patients in nearly 18,000 home health visits. We are pleased to have the increase in market share in the home health care industry. The community in and around Wichita, Kansas is clearly taking notice that our organization is committed to its Mission and Vision. Thank you to our employees, our clients and families, our referral sources and the community in which we live.
Serenity Home Health Care has been named to the 2010 HomeCare Elite(TM), a compilation of the top-performing home health agencies in the United States. Winners are ranked by an analysis of performance measures in quality outcomes, quality improvement, and financial performance.
“It is no secret that we place great emphasis on hiring and retaining the most knowledgeable and caring home health professionals available,” he said. “We have built a team that gets up every day to make this company the best it can be. Everyone benefits from this kind of approach. It is fun and exciting to come to work here. My job is to make sure people around here continue to feel that way,” said Stamp.
Read more about the Home Health Care Agency Award
When it comes to choosing a home health care agency, loved ones and friends often report that they are concerned about making the right choice. These decision-makers have a lot on their minds. The last thing that they want to think about is whether the very people that they have invited into the home of their loved one can be trusted to be there. There are a number of good questions to ask to determine whether a home health agency is employing quality people.
First and foremost, ask whether the Agency is Medicare Certified. Medicare certification comes only after a great deal of effort on the part of the agency seeking certification. Of all of the agency names that you might recognize in and around the Wichita area, only a small percentage of those are certified by Medicare. Medicare Certification means that the agency has agreed to provide care under a stringent set of guidelines called “Conditions of Participation.” It also means that the agency has undergone one or more “on site surveys” by government surveyors to determine whether the agency’s care is up to standards. In the event of a complaint, Medicare has the option to send a team of investigators to the premises of the agency and to go out to the complainant’s home to investigate the problem. When an unlicensed agency is utilized, these checks and balances do not exist.
Unfortunately, in this day and age, criminal background checks are a necessity. Make sure that you ask what type of background checks are completed on both licensed staff members AND unlicensed staff members. While completing a background check isn’t a guarantee that a person is trustworthy, it is certainly a step in the right direction. You have to question the integrity of any agency that would place someone into your home without such a review. It is also important to know who from the agency is qualified to review such information and make decisions as to whether or not to hire a person.
Often it is better to see a home health care operation by going to the location of the operation itself. Why not make an unannounced visit to see where the management team operates, where the business is located and what kind of people are making the decisions that are affecting the care of your loved one? If the agency is a stable and substantial one, there ought to be two or more management level persons present during business hours. Will they make time to meet with you, at least briefly, even if you come by unannounced? This is often an indication of whether there is sufficient operational oversight and is a strong indication of whether or not your concerns will be promptly addressed if a problem should ever develop.
At Serenity Home Health in Wichita, Kansas, we take numerous steps to ensure that we provide your loved one with only the best caregivers possible.
Licenses and background checks of licensed care staff are completed prior to hire, with verification of their status confirmed by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts. Serenity Home Health and Serenity Senior Care staff caregivers are covered by Commercial General Liability Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance and Worker’s Compensation Insurance. In addition, our unlicensed caregivers are Fidelity Bonded—a step that puts us in very rare company. All of these Certificates of Insurance are available for inspection at our offices at 9340 E. Central in East Wichita.
Please drop by at any time during our regular office hours, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Or, call us anytime at (316) 866-2929. We answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The occasional news report of elder abuse on TV or in the papers is enough to frighten many people away from seeking outside help for loved ones in their homes. It’s understandable. But the truth is that these incidences are relatively rare, particularly when a reputable company is engaged to provide the person in need of care with a caregiver suited to his or her particular needs. In the next article, I address the questions that one should ask when hiring a Home Health Care Agency. Asking the right questions is a great first step toward gaining a level of comfort with the idea of having an outsider in your home.
Sometimes, however, the reason that elders don’t want or won’t accept outside help has little or nothing to do with the honesty, sincerity or pure motive of the caregivers that might be selected. Sometimes it is the elder’s insecurities stemming from the facts of their own situation that is causing the difficulty. In other words, if the caregiver were Mother Theresa reincarnated, these fears would not be entirely alleviated. Let me explain.
Consider that to many elders, the presence or need for an outside caregiver represents the first step of a downhill slide toward complete dependence on others. It is, in many ways, the same reason that some people shun the idea of retirement–fear that changing the daily routine somehow accelerates a decline.
In other cases, it may be that the idea of an outside caregiver is somehow a statement that their own family doesn’t love them enough to take on this responsibility. I feel compelled to dispel this myth immediately—the precious time with family members should be spent doing activities that are both positive and enjoyable for all concerned. Placing the burden of the activities of daily living on family members is not a long term strategy for a successful relationship. Caregiving on this level is a job–relatives are best utilized to bring other types of positive experiences to the table.
Often, elders feel that seeking help makes them feel more vulnerable and that their “deficits” are somehow magnified. While this is a fear that seems very real to the elder, the reality is that their self-esteem and confidence rises immeasurably when they discover how much better they feel with a little intervention. Elders have lots of free time and unfortunately, they have more free time to stew on their problems. When an outside caregiver is given a chance to be the solution to that problem, these fears often evaporate like ether into thin air.
There is a certain amount of distrust of outsiders that all of us have. This isn’t irrational—we have always been taught to be wary of strangers and letting a stranger into our home is a little bit scary. But think about it— most of our dearest friends in life were strangers when they first entered our homes. Somewhere between “stranger” and “best friend” we bridged the gap. We accomplished this by learning about that person, their interests, their hobbies—we made an acquaintance first and a friendship grew from there.
Of course, we all know people that are a little “cantankerous.” Maybe your loved one is on edge, frustrated–or perhaps a bit “crotchety.”
Believe me, people in the caregiving professions are used to dealing with elders that can be a little difficult at times. Humor is a great tool that we often employ to disarm and befriend folks that are having a bad day…or year. And, let’s not forget that there are a number of quite excellent anti-anxiety medications out there that, when used properly and pursuant to a physician’s order, can be very beneficial.
The bottom line is this: While there can be a whole lot of anxiety in the buildup to getting some help, those concerns literally melt away once home care hits its stride. Outside caregivers–whether they are a part of a Medicare-Certified Home Health Agency or are employed by a “private-duty, companion care, non-skilled” company— can be very effective in breaking down barriers and establishing acceptance…even with the most wary and skeptical elders!
Lars C. Stamp is a former Assistant District Attorney and has more than a dozen years of experience in the medical and home care fields. He is the President and Chief Executive of Serenity Health Management, LLC based in Wichita, Kansas. Serenity Home Health, LLC is a Medicare Certified Home Health Agency based in east Wichita. Serenity Senior Care, LLC, a sister company, is a “private duty” in-home services company also based in east Wichita. Mr. Stamp can be reached for questions or comments at 316-866-2929 or via email at [email protected]