When a loved one’s needs have reached the point that he or she can no longer completely care for themselves but wishes to stay in their own home, families need to know how to help them accomplish that. Whether recovering from an injury or surgery, or they have developed a serious health condition, these are life changes that require family members to give careful consideration for how to meet these needs and enable their loved one to continue to live at home.

The first thing to realize is that there are different types of needs that must be met for them to continue to enjoy the freedom and flexibility to stay in the comfort and safety of their own home. First, they may need help with the specific medical conditions they have, whether it is administrating medicine, checking vital signs or wound dressing. Then there are the everyday tasks of bathing, eating, housework, shopping and errands.

If family members are not available or able to provide care, there are several important considerations for selecting professional help for your loved one at home. First, it is less stressful for both the family and patient to have a service that works across this range of needs. Many corporate or franchised home care assistance services offer help in personal care and light housework but are not qualified to provide healthcare needs. Having one provider reduces the complexity and also the cost of managing your loved one’s care. Your service provider and intake nurse should be available to contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A second consideration, very important but often overlooked by home service providers, is to match the home health care provider with the patient. In addition to being compassionate, professional and courteous, it is helpful for your loved one’s happiness and health to have a person in their home with whom they can share a personal bond, and as much as possible, for that same person to consistently care for them over time. For instance, if your loved one has a pet, it is helpful to have a home health care provider who likes pets and understands this important attachment for the patient.

Another important factor is the cost of in-home care. In order to help families minimize their out-of-pocket expenses for home health care, consider a provider that accepts private and long-term care insurance as well as self-pay, and in addition offers help in seeking other funding such as Medicaid, donations and grant funding. They should offer flexible hours to coordinate with the availability of family members and be willing to discount 12- and 24-hour shifts, rather than just charging hourly rates.

In order to assure that your loved one’s needs are met at home, it is critical to begin the care process with a comprehensive assessment of needs to provide a highly personalized plan of care. Ongoing reassessment and oversight offer families the peace of mind that their loved one is maintaining a safe environment and healthy lifestyle while being independent at home.