0622_Senior Life Digital Edition - Page 8

SENIOR LIFE
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care is initiated upon a doctor ’ s referral , usually in the wake of a hospitalization . In California , caregivers can be hired privately , directly as independent contractors or as employees of an agency . “ There are many advantages of hiring a caregiver through an agency ,” says Joe Sharpe , chief operating officer with Sacramento-based Rx HealthCare Services . “ Agency caregivers are registered as home care aides through the state , which includes Live Scan fingerprinting . In addition , our caregivers are bonded and insured , and we have worker ’ s comp and liability insurance , which helps protect the client from lawsuits in case of an injured caregiver . Also , our agency drug-screens employees — but that ’ s an agency ’ s decision , not a state requirement .”
Sharpe points out that hiring a private caregiver through a classified ad may be less expensive per hour , but is also riskier . “ All caregivers , including privately hired ones , should be registered with the state , but when hiring directly , it ’ s up to the person doing the hiring to check that registry ,” he says .
Affording in-home caregiving is a legitimate concern for many people , especially those on fixed incomes . The typical cost of a caregiver employed by an agency is $ 30-40 per hour , and unlike home health care , caregiving is mostly an out-of-pocket expense . “ Primarily , non-medical caregiving is privately funded , but there is long-term care insurance that will cover some of the services , and for veterans , there are veterans ’ benefits that help cover it ,” says Cynthia Driver , associate executive director for Live Well at Home , Eskaton ’ s non-medical division . CalPERS , John Hancock , Bankers Life , Genworth and MetLife are all examples of long-term care insurance providers that cover caregiving services in-home .
Though most non-medical caregiving is provided in private homes , it is available across a variety of settings that includes assisted living , memory care , independent communities and even skilled nursing facilities or hospitals . “ Some non-medical caregivers may have a certified nursing assistant ( CNA ) license , or may be an active or retired nurse , or have a variety of licensure , but it ’ s not required and they do not act in that capacity ,” Driver says .
Driver feels the caregiving profession isn ’ t as valued in the health care continuum as it should be . “ Caregivers are that important component in helping people remain in their homes — an important part of the health care system ,” she says . “ I hope it becomes more recognized in that way and included in coverage so more people have access to it and that it ’ s not solely dependent upon their financial means .”
Caregiver demographics vary widely in age from 21 to 65 , though 70 percent or more are women , and most are aged 25 to 35 . “ Some caregivers use the job as a stepping stone , going on to become CNAs , LVNs or RNs ,” Sharpe says . “ Our agency encourages nursing students to begin their careers as caregivers as it ’ s a good insight to the industry .”
Home health care brings licensed medical care into private residences on a doctor ’ s referral and is primarily covered by Medicare and managed care plans such as Aetna , Anthem Blue Cross , Blue Shield of California , Kaiser Permanente , United HealthCare and TriWest . Supplemental insurance is also recommended to offset unexpected costs , even for those already on Medicare . Home health services are provided by nurses , physical therapists , occupational therapists , speech therapists , medical social workers and home health aides .
“ I treat patients that are homebound and can ’ t make it to an outpatient clinic for therapy , including post-op patients , geriatric patients who have fallen , stroke patients , Parkinson ’ s patients , among many functional impairments ,” says physical therapist Shontol Burkhalter , who is employed by AccentCare , a Rancho Cordova-based home health company .
Burkhalter ’ s patients include those that have been discharged from hospitals to home , or from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities then to home . Though most
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