Although most home health workers have the best intentions — to help the patient recuperate or become independent — changing a private home to a place where a number of caregiving strangers suddenly come and go can be difficult.
Emergency information. Be sure all care providers have complete contact information for those who should be notified in case of an emergency — and are aware of the patient’s medical preferences and directives, such as do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders, advance directives, and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).
Fitting personalities. In the intimate process of home care, individual personalities and temperaments are essential parts of the mix. It is important to find care providers who make the patient feel comforted and respected. These are reasons to carefully screen the care agency and to seek out other workers — or even a different provider — if there are mismatches.
Loss of privacy. Those involved in care at home report that the biggest adjustment is a loss of privacy. Simply getting a firm commitment of when caregivers will be arriving and how long they will stay during visits can go a long way in alleviating this concern. If possible, designate areas that are the patient’s or family’s private space, off-limits to others.
Personal preferences. Another common complaint is that care providers aren’t attuned to the patient’s personal preferences and quirks — a sensitivity that can make the difference between delivering fitting care and simply completing tasks.
It can help to specify the patient’s:
- Needs related to food, sleep, and bathroom habits
- Body temperature tendencies
- Home activities, such as a favored television show or card game
- Preferred exercise and outings
- Friends and other social contacts, and how and when to include them