How To Find The Best Home Care In The Lehigh Valley, Allentown, and Bethlehem, PA
As our family members age, small and large health issues often arise. Sometimes these health issues result in our loved one’s needing additional help in order to stay at home by themselves. Tasks like bathing, preparing a meal and ambulating can start to be difficult. Home care is a resource that allows seniors to stay comfortable at home while still getting the help they need.
Finding the right home care agency for your family member is an important decision and involves many different considerations. You want to have the right mindset and an understanding of the basics of home care before you start searching for an agency. This involves understanding your family’s financial situation as well as the underlying reasons for wanting home care. Each agency has its own strengths and weaknesses – the same way that different regions have different considerations. In this article, we will discuss finding home care in the Lehigh Valley and anywhere in the Northeast.
Here are the basic steps to finding a home care agency:
- Understand the basics of home care. Do you need medical or non-medical care?
- Talk to your family or loved one about why they want home care. Do they need help with day to day activities? Do they have dementia? Do they have physical disabilities? How many hours of care do they need per week? Do they need transportation?
- Determine how you plan on paying for home care. This can be a tough conversation but it is a
necesarryone. Do you qualify for a home care waiver? Do you have long term care insurance? Are you going to pay out of pocket?
- Research different agencies and pick a home care agency. How much does the agency cost? How do they train caregivers?
- Continue the journey. Just because you found an agency doesn’t mean that communication should stop.
- Talk to friends and family about your home care journey. Part of
Carenade’smission is to educate the world about home care. We believe that passing this knowledge along is good for everyone.
Step 1: What is home care?
In order to find the appropriate agency, you need a general understanding of what home care offers. There are dozens of home care agencies in Easton, Bethlehem
Medical home care
Medical home care consists of skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy
Non-medical home care
Non-medical home care is care provided by trained caregivers who can help with day to day activities. This type of care is sometimes provided by family members as well.
Step 2: What type of home care does your loved one need?
Step two involves a discussion and personal assessment of your loved one and the type of care they need. Here are some of the examples of the services that a typical non-medical agency will provide:
- Transportation and help getting to doctor’s visits
- Light housekeeping
- Meal prep
- Personal hygiene
- Help with eating
- Medication reminders and
Talk to your loved one and explore their feelings about home care. It can be a difficult subject to broach. Your loved one might be worried that they will seem like a “burden”. Try to understand their point of view and work through any misgivings they have.
In all my time taking care of home care clients, I have seen countless folks reluctant to take the first step but none that wouldn’t recommend home care to a friend.– Rebecca Bradford, COO of Carenade
Your loved one may also need medical home care such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, skilled nursing or speech pathology. In that case, it is often helpful to talk to your doctor before arranging care.
Of note, Carenade can work with your doctor to help you get the medical home care services you need.
Step 3: How to pay for home care?
This is an important question as it may affect the agency that you choose. Home care costs typically range from $19-$25 per hour for non-medical care but some agencies specialize in wavier and long term care insurance clients.
Sometimes clients express to us that home care agencies focus too heavily on the financial aspects of home care. However, an agency that is straightforward about price is better than one who sells first and then surprises you later. Some clients choose to work with their accountants or financial advisors to explore all the options for paying for home care. Frank discussion, planning, and good advice are the best tools when it comes to planning for home care.
Remember that shopping solely by price is not always the best way to find an agency that is the proper fit for your loved one. Most agencies fall within the same general hourly rate. Choosing the wrong agency just to save a dollar or two an hour is rarely a good decision.
Every agency on Carenade has agreed to list their hourly rate up front – directly on the Carenade website.
There are several major ways to pay for non-medical home care.
Many families choose to pay for home care out of pocket. Compared to an assisted living facility, a small number of weekly home care hours can often be the best choice financially. Clients may choose to start with a small number of hours and add more hours as needed. Some clients hire a home care agency while still having their family help take care of them. This way family members can get a break while still contributing to the care of their loved one.
Not all agencies allow you to pay with credit card. Carenade makes paying online with credit card super easy. Share your loved one’s account with the whole family so everyone can chip in!
Long term care insurance
Most agencies will accept long term care insurance but not all agencies are truly long term care insurance “experts”. The process of getting reimbursed by a long term care insurance company can sometimes be frustrating. As such, if you have long term care insurance, you want to pick an agency with lots of experience working with insurance.
Waiver programs are great if you can qualify for them. There are several different types of waivers that can be used when looking for home care in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and the surrounding areas. This waiver process can take several months to complete and must be done properly.
Each county has a different Area on Aging so make sure that you contact the county office.
Areaon Aging Lehigh County Areaon Aging Northampton County Areaon Aging Bucks County Areaon Aging Montgomery County Areaon Aging Monroe County Areaon Aging Carbon County
- Area on Aging Berks County
The website “payingforseniorcare.com” discusses some of the criteria that you must meet to qualify for PA Medicaid. However, don’t get too bogged down in trying to figure out if you are eligible all by yourself. Simply reach out to the PAIEB to start this process. They can discuss all the details with you.
To apply, start that the Pennsylvania Independent Enrollment Broker and your local Area on Aging. See our walkthrough video where I go through the process step by step.
VA Home Care Benefits
There are numerous VA benefits available to veterans and their family members but this may require some diligence to get. A reasonable first step is to check out the VA Benefits page and call the local US Veterans Affairs Department. Simply Google Search “Local US Veterans Affairs Department” and give them a call.
Navigating VA benefits can be tough – in response to this, there are many Veteran Service organizations (VSOs) that can help veterans throughout this process. However, be careful when finding a VSO. Not all VSO’s are helpful and some may even charge for their services. In general, it is better to avoid VSO’s that charge. Talk with local veterans and see who has used which VSO and which one they like.
Step 4: How to pick a home care agency?
Finding the right home care agency is more of an art than a science. There are dozens of local home care agencies that service Bethlehem, Allentown, Easton, and the surrounding Lehigh Valley. Ask around, get a feel for which agencies are good. Sometimes an agency just feels “right” for your loved one.
Families often have different questions and concerns. Here are just some of the questions our clients often ask:
- Does the agency use and maintain a care plan to help care for your loved one?
- How does the agency deal with absenteeism among caregivers?
- How does the agency train their caregivers?
- Does the agency do background checks?
- Is the agencies state license up to date?
- How does the agency match caregivers to clients?
- Do you need an agency that accepts long term care insurance?
- Does the agency have any special programs for dementia, Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions?
- Do you need an agency that accepts waivers?
Home Care in Allentown and Bethlehem
Carenade originally launched in Allentown and Bethlehem and has since grown to the surrounding areas. We maintain personal and close relationships with every agency on our platform. There are many different types of agencies, from large franchise locations that have over 50 clients to smaller boutique agencies operated by their owners and a handful of staff.
Step 5: How to work with a home care agency?
Ongoing communication is the key to getting the most out of your home care agency. Every family has different requirements and preferences. While agencies work hard to deliver the best care, it’s impossible for your agency to meet all your needs without adequate communication.
The best agencies will make communication a main priority. This can be through text, email or phone call updates from the scheduler or owner themselves. Some agencies have documentation and communication platforms that allow family members to check in on their loved
Make it a priority to schedule regular meetings (even if they are over the phone) with your care agency. This way, small issues don’t grow to become something big.
Your agency should have their version of a care plan.
A care plan is a document that outlines the needs of your loved one. This can include contact information, types of care needed, communication preferences, dietary issues, social issues, known medical issues, and other special care instructions. This document is the center of your loved one’s care and helps everyone stay on the same page (literally!).
Remember, even the best home care agencies will have occasional hiccups. Scheduling can be tough and caregivers may be late or require last minute changes. If this becomes a frequent issue then it needs to be addressed by the agency. Otherwise, the occasional late caregiver or caregiver change is to be expected. As long as your agency is communicating these issues to you in a timely manner and addressing any of your concerns then you are all good! Take pride in finding an agency that over-communicates.
Step 6: Spread the love!
We all have loved one’s and friends that face troubles while aging at home. It is a personal journey but also a common one. Mention home care to friends or family and you will notice that everyone has a story to tell.
Reach out to others and spread the word about your journey. Once you have the knowledge you can become a valuable voice for those that are just starting off their journey to finding care. Think about the knowledge you had when you were first starting. What would you have wanted to know about home care and assisted living before you started your journey?
For more caregiver resources see:
- Long Term Living Training Institute of Pennsylvania Caregiver Resource Page
- AARP Caregiver Resource Guide
- Lehigh County Area on Aging
- Northampton County Area on Aging
- And if you’re a veteran, check out the Office of Veterans Affairs.
If you have any more questions about your home care search, you can chat with our care coordinators at (833) 742-7382.