Choosing a Health Care Agency
For over 65 years, Visiting Nurse Service has been recognized as a trusted provider of home health care services. VNS is Medicare/Medicaid certified and many insurance carriers have named VNS and Affiliates as a preferred provider of home care.
Ask your friends and family members if they had any experiences with home health care agencies. Your doctor can also be helpful, since good home care agencies work closely with physicians so you receive the best care.
Your insurance coverage may also influence your selection. Your insurance book usually offers several choices from which to choose.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, ask about the general operating practices of the agency. According to the National Association for Home Care, there are several questions you should ask, including....
How long has the provider been serving the community?
Since 1947, Visiting Nurse Service has been recognized as a trusted provider of home health care services. It is Medicare/Medicaid certified. Many insurance carriers have named VNS and Affiliates as a preferred provider of home care.
Will the provider openly discuss and provide written information regarding its service, fees, and funding sources? Will they provide a written "Patient Bill of Rights" and explain it to the patient and his or her family?
At the time of the first visit—or prior to it if the patient and his or her family request—VNS staff will openly discuss what services will be provided and the process for billing the patient's insurance carrier. The "Patient Bill of Rights" is also discussed at this time and left with the patient.
How does the provider select and train its employees?
All visiting staff of Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates must successfully go through an extensive interview and selection process. They are fingerprinted, checked for criminal backgrounds, and bonded. Before visiting patients, they must complete a comprehensive training process.
Does the provider include the patient and his or her family members in the identification of the patient's needs and wants for service? Will the patient have ongoing input and control regarding the care that is provided?As detailed in the "Patient's Bill of Rights" of Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates, patients and their family members always have the right to participate in planning and carrying out the plan of care.
Does the provider take time to educate family members on the care being administered to the patient?
Visiting Nurse Service and Affiliates has a large professional education department which is responsible for creating patient education information on a variety of medical conditions and treatments. This information is reviewed with the patient and his or her family.
Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes? Who can the patient and his or her family members call with questions or complaints? How does the agency follow up and resolve problems?
Each patient is served by a Case Manager responsible for the patient's overall care. All Case Managers are supervised by Managers of Patient Services. Patients are given the phone numbers of these managers and other administrators and are encouraged to call them should there be any concerns or questions about service.
The agency reviews and responds to any issue brought to the attention of management staff. Every effort is made to satisfactorily resolve patient or caregiver concerns in a timely manner.
Does the provider furnish written statements concerning the costs and payment plan options associated with home care?
VNS fee investigators check with the patient's insurance carrier to verify what home care costs will be covered. They send a list of the services provided to the patient, the published rates, the estimated coverage by the carrier, and the patient's out-of-pocket expenses, if any. Itemized statements are also available upon request.
What procedures does this provider have in place to handle emergencies? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
All patients are provided with a phone number to call in case of emergency—24 hours a day, 7 days a week. VNS triage nurses are available at all times to respond to calls; provide professional guidance; and, if indicated, arrange for one of our staff members to make a home visit to deliver needed and appropriate care.
How does the provider ensure patient confidentiality?
Staff training continuously emphasizes the importance of patient confidentiality. Procedures range from not discussing specific patient issues except with staff who are directly involved with the patient's care to shredding any documentation which is no longer needed by the agency.Date Updated: 01-APR-2013