Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty, through the courts.

July 24, 2012

Who's Watching Mom?

Who’s Watching Mom?
July 19, 2012

My mom, who had multiple sclerosis, depended on private duty companions at home — first part-time, then full-time — for nearly 30 years.
Some of these women stole from her. Some ordered groceries on her dime and carried them away at the end of a shift.
Some ignored her cries for assistance when they didn’t feel like getting out of a chair. (How did we know? The phone was next to the bed. There would be a call.) Some were disrespectful and made her feel discounted.
How many caregivers did we go through before we found two wonderful ladies — one from the South Side of Chicago, one from the Philippines — who cared for mom reliably and with considerable sensitivity during the last 20 years of her life? I have no idea. Who wants to remember?
I thought of those long-ago hardships last week when a new study by researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine landed on my desk. It’s an eye-opening look at agencies that supply caregivers, companions, homemakers, personal care attendants and non-nursing home health aides to people who need help living independently at home. (Medicare-certified home health agencies, which are federally regulated and provide licensed nurses, were not included in the report.)
This is a fast-growing, almost entirely unregulated business that serves frail seniors with remarkably little oversight or meaningful consumer protection. Consider the study’s findings, based on interviews with 180 agencies in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
For the interviews, researchers posed as family members seeking information about caregivers’ qualifications. While this may have biased results, it provides an indication of the kind of issues families can encounter when trying to find reliable help.
•    Only 16.5 percent of agencies tested potential caregivers’ basic knowledge about the job and its requirements.
•    No agencies assessed potential caregivers’ “health literacy” – their ability to understand medical terms and instructions.
•    Only 32 percent of agencies performed drug tests on applicants for caregiver positions.
•    No agencies performed criminal background checks on applicants in states other than the one in which they were operating.
•    Only 15 percent of agencies provided some type of training before sending a caregiver into someone’s home.
•    More than half relied on caregivers’ own assessment of their skills – their ability to administer medications, provide dementia care, or transfer someone from chair to bed, for instance – without independent verification.
•    Only 23 percent of agencies supervised caregivers by sending someone to the home monthly to check up on them.



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Any Charges Reported on this blog are Merely Accusations and the Defendants are Presumed Innocent Unless and Until Proven Guilty.

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