A frequently asked question that comes up when seniors schedule surgery is, “Can I hire someone to care for me after surgery?” The short and sweet answer is, “yes.” The cost of care fluctuates depending on the type of care you hire for and what your insurance policy covers. Frequently used services include, but are not limited to, inpatient care in a short-stay rehabilitation facility, hiring a nurse or caregiver privately or through an agency. It can feel overwhelming looking at the multiple options of after-surgery care, and it is always recommended to discuss options with your primary care physician or surgeon. It can become stressful navigating who you should hire, not to mention “How do you hire someone to care for you?” Below, we have broken down the process to help you get a solid start
Before You Hire A Caregiver
When hiring someone to provide care after your surgery, you should consider several factors. First of all, you should speak with your primary care physician or surgeon about their expectations for your recovery. Keep in mind there can always be unplanned obstacles or complications that arise, and not everyone heals at the same rate or ease. Most but not all surgeries will require some level of rehabilitation therapy and wound care.
Your budget and insurance policy are going to be a significant factor in both how and who you hire to care for you after surgery. If you are going through Medicare, there are limitations to hiring help at home. Original Medicare does not cover personal care if it is all you require. In contrast, some Medicare Advantage plans will cover a limited amount of personal care, depending on your policy and eligibility.
Who You Can Hire To Care For You After Surgery
More than 2.4 million medical professionals in the US provide in-home personal and health care. Home-care medical professionals vary from experienced caregivers to Registered Nurses and therapists. Who you choose to hire will rely heavily on your health and recovery needs.
Personal Care Aides (PCAs)
Personal Care Aides (PCAs) help around the home, assist in daily activities and provide companionship. A PCA is not licensed or certified in the medical field, but they will often have extensive training if hired through an agency. If your recovery does not require medical care but impairs your independence, a personal care aide may be the best route. They can also be hired to come into the home while the primary caregiver is at work or tending to their personal needs. As part of their duties, they can assist in bathing, dressing, and preparing meals. Additionally, they can help with general housekeeping such as laundry, dishes, keeping up with trash, and light cleaning. Frequently reported by seniors recovering at home is the increase in isolation and loneliness. A personal care aide can provide companionship through conversation, board or card games, and, if able, light walks around the neighborhood or community.
Certified Nurses (LPN, RN)
Certified nurses are ideal to hire when your post-operative care requires a decent amount of medical needs. Out of the various types of accredited nurses, a Registered Nurse (RN) has the highest training and ability to provide the most in-depth level of medical care at home. In addition to primary care needs, a Registered Nurse can perform diagnostic testing, handle most complications, administer IV care, determine treatment plans, and provide education and advice to you and your family about optimal health management.
Generally, if you and your doctor decide on outpatient therapy, you likely have access to transportation, whether it is via family members, friends, or a hired caregiver. In some cases, it is not realistic for someone to leave their home, and they are considered homebound. Medicare defines a person as homebound when you have difficulty leaving your home because of injury or illness without the assistance of a device or specialized transportation; it is not recommended for you to leave home or not possible to leave without extensive planning and effort. Homebound seniors can receive rehabilitative therapies at home, too. You can hire a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or speech-language pathologist. Some people may require a combination of specialists.
The Hiring Process
It is deeply personal and vulnerable to invite someone to work in your home, specifically to care for you and your health after a surgical procedure. Allow yourself time to interview, research, and find a caregiver that elicits trust, responsibility, accountability, empathy, and compassion. This part of the planning stage should not be rushed if you can avoid it. A general rule of thumb to follow when seeking help inside your home or the home of a loved one is to ensure their identity, experience if they are licensed, and their overall capability in providing care without causing any harm. You should not feel any guilt in asking to run a background check, to view their driving record, ask for proof of insurance, a copy of I.D., etc.
There are several ways to go about finding a professional. Some work as independent contractors and can be found through word-of-mouth, recommendations by friends or doctors, or a registry. Hiring an independent caregiver comes with several perks and downsides. The ability to pick someone on your own allows the opportunity to choose someone who can not only meet your needs, but you get along with them, too. There’s more space for negotiating duties, hours to work, etc. Unfortunately, there are a handful of cons. The searches, research, paperwork, and payments are up to you. Another possible issue is what happens if your caregiver has to cancel an appointment due to getting sick or any of the hurdles life throws at us. Typically independent caregivers do not have someone who can substitute for them if unavailable. This can cause a significant impact for those who require full-time help with the care that family or friends cannot provide. In this case, doctors may recommend hiring through an agency or even choosing to recover in a short-stay rehab facility.
Hiring Through An Agency
Agencies are an optimal choice for people using Medicare to cover the service. Because Medicare does not cover every company, it is essential to ensure the agency you choose is Medicare-certified. This can be accomplished by searching Medicare’s Home Health Compare. You can scratch off a few “to-do’s” on your list through this tool. The system breaks down information on each agency, services provided, and patient reviews. You eliminate the background checks, payments, paperwork, and nitty-gritty by taking this route. Agencies are required to ensure their staff; if they are injured on the job, this does not fall on you. Most will provide backup care (a substitute) if your regular caregiver is unavailable, ensuring you don’t have to go without the help you need. The downside is you are not part of the selection process and may receive a caregiver that does not mesh well with you. Lack of flexibility in what your provider can do – additional duties, part-time or overtime hours – is another issue that many people are not fans of.
Hiring From a Registry
A Registry is focused on connecting independent caregivers with those in need; they can be referred to as “home health registry,” “private-duty registry,” or “staffing service.” Essentially, you tell the company about the type of care you are seeking, what is important to you for the individual to have, and things you certainly do not want. The company will search out and provide you with a list of the most compatible options. From there, the choice is yours. Despite the narrowed-down list, you will still have to conduct your research, interviews, etc., which can take up an unfavorable amount – or lack of – time. The caregivers provided will include their qualifications, certifications, and licensing, if they have one, in addition to contact information. Because the caregiver is an independent contractor, you will discuss and negotiate flexibility. They go by your rules, unlike through an agency where their staff must adhere to the standards and guidelines set by the agency.
This method allows you to “spend less and pay more” in some cases. If you find a match through the company, there is often a small, one-time fee charged for their work. Keep in mind if you are searching for multiple caregivers, you may have to pay a fee for each match. Independent caregivers can charge different rates based on their qualifications, availability, duties, and hours they provide services per week/month. Once you hire your caregiver, payments are handled directly by you. However, the good news is that you can dedicate more funds towards your caregiver, and they can earn more than possible by going through an agency. It’s a win for everyone.
Opt For Inpatient Care Via Short-Stay Rehabilitation
The Partnership for Quality Healthcare (PQHH) and the National Association For Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) released a study near the end of 2021 that declared 94 percent of Medicare Beneficiaries preferred to recover and receive care in their own home. Regretfully, the option to stay home may not be affordable – the cost of home modifications, lack of insurance coverage, cost of equipment – or possibly due to the condition and health history of the person. In these cases, opting for inpatient care at a short-stay rehabilitation facility is the next closest option to home.
Bridge Care Suites provides quality comfort, food, and a supportive healing environment for guests to recover before returning home. The staff is meticulously trained – including required continuing education – with 24/7 available nurses. All services you need, from managing medication, assistance in getting dressed, and rehabilitative therapies, are provided on campus. As a Medicare-certified facility, your stay is covered, and if something is not paid for by medicare, the staff will inform you. For further information, questions, or to schedule a tour, you can fill out the online form or call Bridge Care Suites at (217) 787-0000.