Friday, April 23, 2010
Seniors, disabled adults and families come to us for a variety of reasons and a variety of needs. We meet with family members who say their loved one "does not want care" , or their loved one is "resistant to the idea" .” We are not surprised by this at all. Who would want to lose independence? Who would want a stranger coming in their home to assist them?
So when do families call us? Typically we are called after an unexpected illness or injury when a family finds their loved one needs help and they are unable to do it all. We are also called when a family member is exhausted, frustrated, and burned out in their family caregiving role. Many families are living long distances away and want someone to check on their parent(s).
Families aren’t the only ones that call. We are referred to by hospital discharge planners, social workers, rehabilitation facilities, therapists, doctor’s offices, attorney’s, trust officers, home health agencies, hospice agencies, and even concerned friends and neighbors.
No one calls without a reason. The majority call because they are concerned for someone’s safety. Either there has been a crisis that has caused a person to decline, someone’s dementia is progressing, or a patient or loved one is in the process of rehabilitation and needs temporary assistance. Visiting Angels offers an in home Safety Assessment
We provide a variety of services that range from temporary to long term, from minimal services to maximum services, from 2 hours to 24 hours a day. Our services include, but are not limited to, companionship, hygiene, light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands, transportation, and medication reminders. We provide incontinence care, linen change, and do laundry. We assist with exercise, socialization, and activities.
We have clients who no longer drive, and just want to get out of the house to shop, dine out, run errands, visit friends, go to appointments, and attend events. These clients are very independent, and we value their independence. Meaning, we do not do anything for them, they can do for themselves. We know if you don’t use it, you lose it. We never want to contribute to someone’s loss of independence.
There are clients we service who need total care. This involves most of our services. We bathe, and groom, prepare meals, and feed clients. We talk, read, or sing to them. We comfort them and their families. We provide incontinence care, repositioning, and oral care. We change linen, wash clothes, and provide light housekeeping. Many times clients who need this much care live with and are cared for by family members. Family caregiving to this extent is difficult and requires the family caregiver’s to get respite. A family caregiver needs to take time to care for themselves in order to keep their loved one at home, and remain well themselves.
Our rehab clients are generally recovering from an illness or injury and need temporary assistance. We provide assistance with the things they cannot do themselves, which may be housekeeping, errands, transportation, meal preparation, and assistance with exercises. We help our rehab clients get back as much independence as possible.
Visiting Angels can fill in where families can’t. Our Angels will stay with a client while the caregiving family takes a vacation, or sits with their loved one in the hospital so the family can get some rest. We take clients to doctor appointments and hospital procedures.
So why Visiting Angels? Visiting Angels is highly mrepected in the industry, has an excellent reputation, and track record. Our company was founded by a social worker, named Jeffrey Johnson, who has a huge heart for seniors, and their care. He didn’t open Visiting Angels to sell franchises. He recognized the need for respectful, dignified, ethical, and reliable care, ran his homecare agency that way, and wanted to duplicate his values and principals across the nation.
There are thousands and thousands of homecare agencies and many franchise companies. Some are excellent, some are not. The best indicator is finding out who started the company and/or office, and why. What is the background of the owner? Is their focus care or the bottom line? What experience do they have? What do their current and previous clients say? I believe there is a difference between an owner who is a medical professional or lay person who went into care because of their personal experiences, and an owner who is a business major. Google is a great thing! Google the owner's name and see what comes up. Are they involved with senior issues outside of their business? What do you see that either makes you confident and comfortable or unsure and skeptical?
One of the biggest things that set Visiting Angels apart is our initiation of care. This was developed by Jeffrey Johnson and holds true to over 400 offices today. Our process allows our care recipients and families to help select their caregiver. We meet with the care recipient and family to assess their needs, and explain our services. Once we are able to understand the care recipients needs, preferred schedule, and personality, we pre-select a caregiver(s) we think will work well with the care recipient bases on experience, schedule and personality. We then schedule a second meeting for the care recipient to meet and interview the caregiver(s). If the client and/or family feel comfortable with the caregiver(s), we are ready to begin service. If the client and/or family feel it is not a good fit than we will introduce an additional caregiver.
Homecare is very scary to the elderly, particularly if they have never received in home care or they have had a bad experience. It is also uncomfortable for a stranger to just show up on their doorstep and begin providing care, especially if the care recipient needs personal care. We want our clients to feel safe, and comfortable. We value their thoughts and opinions, and want them to have a voice in their care.
Another reason for choosing Visiting Angels is our employment process and training. We are very selective and spend the time, effort and finances to make sure we are hiring caregiver's we would feel comfortable sending in our own family’s homes. We use the most up to date, comprehensive criminal background checks available. Visiting Angels uses a 5 step hiring process. There are 2 interviews, thorough employment reference checks, comprehensive background checks, and orientation. If a potential caregiver can pass our stringent hiring process they are hired. If they fail to meet our expectations in any of these processes, we will not hire them.
Since every office is independently owned and operated we differ in our training procedures, service costs, and may even differ in some policies.
My Visiting Angels office in Ann Arbor has mandatory training, and testing in 6 areas. No matter how experienced a caregiver may be, we feel there is always something to learn, improve or refresh. We expect our caregivers to be as prepared as possible to meet our client’s needs. For us to provide excellent care we prioritize our clients and caregivers safety. It is our responsibility to send well prepared, knowledgeable, compassionate, hard working, safe, and reliable caregiver’s to our clients homes.
We also utilize an integrated system for verification that our clients are being attended to on the days and times they have scheduled service. We are notified if a caregiver is 6 minutes late. The system we use helps maintain dependable service and accurate billing and payroll.
Our quality doesn’t stop there. We maintain open communication with our clients, families, caregivers, and any medical professionals involved in the clients care. We make frequent calls to check on service satisfaction, and have written records of each service visit. Our administrative staff makes unannounced visits to supervise our staff, and spend time with our care recipients. We send periodic satisfaction survey’s to our clients, caregivers and referral sources. We constantly work on improvement.
Relationships are highly valued in all Visiting Angels offices. It is a rare occasion that I as the owner and registered nurse , doesn’t meet with the potential client to assess their needs. If it is not me, it is my Assistant Director, Cindy Guindon, who meets with the client and family. Cindy’s 14 year background at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital’s Senior Health, as the Service Delivery Leader, is more than sufficient to assess and implement care. Cindy was recently chosen to receive the Angel of Mercy Award from the National Senior Living Providers Network because of her exceptional commitment to our clients. Something we are very proud of!
Many agencies care recipients don’t even know who the owner is, let alone have the owner prioritize getting to know their clients. Meeting clients and families and helping them with their needs, by education, resources, referrals, and service is what I LOVE about what I do. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you did something to help someone.
When you find yourself not knowing what to do or where to turn when a loved one needs help, call Visiting Angels. We can meet with you at no cost or obligation to help you determine your needs and how we and/or other trusted companies can help you.
After all we are America’s Choice in Homecare!
For information in the Ann Arbor area go to Visiting Angels Ann Arbor or call (734) 929-9201.
For information outside of the Ann Arbor area go to http://www.visitingangels.com/ or call 800-365-4189
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