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Why Quality of Care Matters

by Adrienne Glusman, Family Caregiver

Quality of care is the extent to which health care services provided improve the desired health outcomes for your loved one including safety, effectiveness, timeliness and efficiency.  How you provide quality of care to your loved one, whether they live at home, with you or in a long-term care facility is directly related to the quality of the products and services provided.  Throughout her journey with Parkinson’s, and the quality of mom’s care as my number one priority, I’ve identified some products and services that have been vital assets in consistently ensuring her safety, security and overall mental health and hygiene:

 

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology can help your loved one live more independently and potentially make your role as a caregiver easier and more enjoyable.  Assistive technology devices are basically helpful products that improve a person’s ability to live and function independently, the most common being a walker/cane, aids for bath or toileting and wheelchairs/scooters.  A wide range of products and devices are available so before purchasing, consider the folllowing:

 

  1. The device needs to be comfortable, attractive, simple to use, and most importantly, addresses your love one’s needs.


  2. Start out with the simplest product to meet the need as they tend to be easiest to use.  Once mom could no longer remember to take her medications - I implemented a basic daily pillbox to ease the transition.  It wasn’t until she was not able to manage the pillbox did we then turn to a more advanced assistive technology in an automated pillbox.   


  3. Not sure what your loved one needs/is the best product?   Consult with their care team - physical/occupational therapists, nurses, doctors, or any other healthcare professional you may be using.  I’ve received so many recommendations from my mom’s care team as well as valuable insights from caregivers who are also dealing with Parkinson’s.  Their recommendations address the very specific disease-related products that have been helpful from clothing assistive devices, to ergonomic writing instruments and utensils.


  4. Consider the cost.  Medicare Part B covers a portion of the cost for medically-necessary wheelchairs, walkers and other in-home medical equipment such as commode chairs.  Talk with your loved ones doctor about their needs as he or she can write a prescription that can be filled at a medical supply company.

 

Medical Alert System’s

Medical Alert Systems, or personal emergency response systems, provide increased independence for our loved ones along as well as immense peace of mind for us as caregivers.  Seeking out a system was my first foray into quality of care products when we needed a precautionary tool in place in case of emergencies when mom was still living independently.  As technology has advanced, it’s important to evaluate your loved ones needs and abilities and consider the following:


  1. What do you want the system to do?  Call for help, GPS location detection and tracking, fall detection and prevention are all things to consider.  


  2. What is the monitoring and response system like?  Does it go to a 24/7 response center,   can it be routed to a friend or family member.  


  3. What is the best type of equipment? What is the range/mobility, how waterproof is it, is it wearable, is it mobile?


  4. What is the cost?  Consider guarantees and cancellation policies, free trial of the system, as well as potential hidden fees or long-term contracts.

 

Adult Incontinence Products

The #1 key to reducing potentially costly bladder infections and skin rashes/dermatitis which can lead to fistulas is to ensure your loved one is outfitted with the proper incontinence products.  With so many products on the market, how do you know you are choosing the right one? Mom has been wearing pads for as long as I can remember but as her level of incontinence increased and her mobility decreased I knew she needed better products.  It wasn’t until I found the Prevail eNurse Team that I finally figured out the right products for mom’s needs that allowed her to feel more comfortable, confident and dry. Some things to consider when choosing or evaluating products:


  1. What is the type of incontinence? Is it just urinary, fecal or both?


  2. What is the level of leakage?


  3. What is your loved one’s ability to toilet himself/herself and how often?


  4. Is overnight protection needed?


  5. Protective underwear vs. briefs vs pads


  6. Quality of the product vs. the cost

 

Home Health Aides - choosing the right agency

Be it to provide yourself with some respite from everyday care or allow your loved one to remain at home living more comfortably and safely, I learned what a huge benefit having a home health aide would be for mom.  Choosing the right home health aide for your loved one is important – you want to ensure they are left in the best care with a loving and trained professional. When seeking out an agency, here are some important questions I asked to assess the quality of care that would be provided:


  1. How are caregivers recruited?


  2. Should a scheduling conflict occur - what is the back-up procedure?


  3. What types of background/screening checks are conducted?


  4. Are there aides available with training specific to certain disease categories?


  5. What types of services are aides able to provide both around the home and to assist with activities of daily living?

 

One thing to note is that if your loved one has a long-term care insurance policy, this will cover the cost of the daily/weekly or monthly home health aide.  Ensure you speak with the agency about this as well. I was unaware of this at the time but once I learned it was a huge way to offset the out of pocket cost.


 

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