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TroveStreet Wisdom

Finding in-home non-medical support (housekeeping, mowing, etc.)

Whether short-term to help you recuperate from a hospital stay or accident, or ongoing to help you remain living independently, home care offers nonmedical services, such as companionship and help with daily tasks like bathing and meal preparation.  

Sometimes referred to as private duty, home care does not need a doctor’s order and can last as long as you need it, there is no time limit.  

Most people pay for this type of service directly because it is not “health care” , and therefore medical insurances, including Medicare, do not cover it.  In addition, in-home providers typically have a 3 or 4 hour minimum per day of service, so you cannot request 1 hour of service at a time.  If you have long-term care insurance or are a Veteran, this level of care may be covered by your policy or through Veterans benefit programs.  Depending on your finances, you may qualify for a waiver from the state.  Determining if you are eligible requires an assessment from the York County Area Agency on Aging.  

Home care providers, who are sometimes referred to as “personal care aides,” can be hired privately or through a home care agency.  Hiring someone to help you at home is a major decision. You have every right to interview providers to learn about their company values and ask for a copy of their certification or training. It’s beneficial to know how they will address your complaints. Make a list of what is important to you in a caregiver and then ask questions that will help you evaluate if they are the best fit for you. 

In addition, asking these questions will help ensure you are receiving care from a reputable provider.

    • Is the agency licensed and if yes, how?  (if licensed by the state, the agency has to follow standard guidelines)
    • Is the home care provider accredited by a leading national organization? (if yes, the Accreditation Commission for Health Care has strict requirements around patient care quality, safety and oversight, which means a higher level of care)
    • Does the home care agency perform criminal background checks on caregivers prior to hiring?
    • Are the caregivers covered by workers’ compensation if they are injured on the job?
    • Is the home care agency responsible for deducting state, federal, local and Social Security taxes from the caregivers’ wages?
  • Does the agency require the caregivers to carry photo identification?

If you are looking for help with a specific task, like shoveling the snow, mowing the yard, or washing a floor, the York County Area Agency on Aging offers a Rent-a-Kid program.  Students from local middle and high schools sign up for the program through their guidance department.  It is the responsibility of the older adult to contact the youth and discuss the job to be done, when it is to be done, the rate of pay for the job, and any other arrangements that need to be made.  To learn more, call the Rent-a-Kid Coordinator at 717-771-9103.

A final tip, it is not okay for care aides to ask you for money, food, or favors. It is not okay for them to tell or force you to do something you don’t want to do. And it is never okay for them to inappropriately touch you, hit you, demean, or mistreat you in any way, regardless of whether they are your family, friends, or a professional caregiver.  When an older adult is at risk of harm, death or serious physical harm, or their money or assets are at risk of being stolen and misused, it is elder abuse. To report elder abuse in York County, call the Older Adult Protective Services Program of the York County Area Agency on Aging at 717-771-9610.

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