PERSONAL ASSISTANCE SERVICE AGENCIES (PAS) or Non-Medical Home Health agencies are multiplying daily. PAS agencies can be an alternative to Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities as well as provide supplement care for those currently in a facility.
PAS agencies provide services from transportation, companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation, and help with Activities of Daily Living aka ADL’s (i.e. bathing, dressing, incontinence care and medication supervision, etc,) to around the clock end of life care. They can also assist with home health and hospice to complete a total care plan.
While Medicare only currently pays for skilled services, many Long Term Care insurance policies reimburse for PAS services if the care is provided by a licensed agency. Some licensed agencies also accept Medicaid. Agencies that are licensed (beware, many are not) must renew their license every 2 years and are governed by the state's Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).
Some of the state's minimum requirements are just that...minimum. For criminal history, Texas only requires a search of the state of Texas' records (to which not all counties even report). For background checks, agencies only have to survey the Employee Misconduct Registry and Nurse Aide Registry in the state of Texas. Further, drug testing of caregivers is not required. An agency is also not required to be bonded or insured.
There are many wonderful agencies that truly care about who they allow to represent them and far exceed standards. Those agencies conduct nationwide background checks, searching by social security number to get a complete history. Some agencies also repeat local checks periodically for additional peace of mind. Better agencies do pre-employment and random drug screening for illegal drugs as well as prescription narcotics. Some agencies also equip caregivers with CPR training and provide flu shots and TB tests. So how do you find a better agency? Ask questions including but not limited to the below:
Are you licensed, bonded, or insured?
What type of background check do you conduct for caregivers? How often?
Do you screen caregivers for illegal and prescription narcotic drugs? How often?
How long have you been in business? Been licensed?
Do you provide your caregivers CPR training, Flu Shots or TB Tests? How often?
Do your caregivers smoke?
What kind of experience do your caregivers have?
When screening a new agency, request a copy of the agency's current license. Or, look up the agency at www.dads.state.tx.us or call 800.458.9858 to verify licensing. Agencies operating without a license are in violation of the law. Also, request the name of the third party that conducts their background checks as well as the name of their drug screening site. Call both to verify the agency in fact uses them.
Further, consider how you are treated on the phone when inquiring with the agency. Are they genuinely interested and helpful? Does agency supervisors walk in a new caregiver to introduce and orient them or do they just send a stranger to your home on their own? Is the appearance of the caregiver neat and clean? Do they interact well upon introduction? Does the agency insure themselves only with the state's minimum requirements or do they exceed requirements?
It is an individual's right to use who they want or change providers if no longer satisfied. People can choose whatever care they want even if referred otherwise by a physician or hospital. Life is about choices...ask questions to help you make good informed decisions. If you have questions about this article or Kind Companions' services, please email us here or call us at 214-924-9302 or 940-382-7548.