Springpoint at Home Blog
News and Views
We’re here to offer insight, advice and information related to caregiving, aging, health and wellness, recent trends and so much more!
Building Community Means Building Relationships
February 12, 2019
Springpoint Senior Living is committed to building community throughout the entire organization. We take pride in the relationships between our residents, our staff members and all the communities we serve.
For the last five years, Stonebridge at Montgomery has hosted a Valentine card craft event for its residents. This year, staff from Springpoint at Home helped make this tradition a reality. The valentine cards created during this event were delivered to Assisted Living and Memory Care residents on campus. Stonebridge at Montgomery is one of 27 Springpoint Senior Living communities located throughout New Jersey and Delaware.
Cards for over 100 residents were created with a variety of creative and fun material. While each person created several masterpieces, stories were shared, and connections were made. Fellowship continued with a delicious lunch created by the Stonebridge at Montgomery kitchen. Residents are right, the food is delicious!
Some of our crafters hard at work
Kay is 95 years old and was a librarian by profession. Originally from Canada, her husband’s work brought them to the states. Kay and her family lived all over the US, settling wherever her husband’s job took them. She loves to create collages and takes advantage of the crafts that Stonebridge offers.
Christa who is 95, was born in Germany, and came to live in the US when she was five. She taught kindergarten her entire career and loved crafting with the children. Christa traveled extensively across Europe to attend opera performances. She continues to play piano, sew and quilt, but her first love is bridge.
Miriam is an 80+ years old scientist who worked in this field when women in science was not the norm. She traveled all over the world from Australia to Russia as a biochemist and later as a science writer. During her career, Miriam taught at many medical schools including NYU, Columbia and Western Reserve.
Springpoint at Home staff was equally engaged in make joyful cards!
When people think of home care agencies, they typically picture an aid in a home. But home is where you live and that can be in an independent living or assisted living facility. If it’s your goal to stay at home for as long as possible, receiving in-home care wherever you live can boost your independence and allow you to make the most of every day.
“We love coming out to meet our clients. Not only does it help morale, but it’s important that the Springpoint at Home staff meet and get to know clients living in our facilities. Schedulers and other front-line staff are the folks our families talk to most often. When they visit a campus and interact with residents, it helps staff to feel connected to clients and clients to feel connected to staff. And visiting a campus orients them to it, which helps the schedulers guide our Certified Home Health Aid (CHHA) staff interactions and directions within each community.” Annette Murphy, Director of Home Care & Care Management Springpoint at Home
What You Need To Know Before You Hire A Caregiver: The Pitfalls Of Private Pay Caregivers
January 29, 2019
Discussions are finished and a family decision has been made. Mom has agreed she can no longer live at home alone safely. It is time to look for live in help.
The big question: Do we hire a caregiver directly, or do we hire through an agency? Many families decide to hire a caregiver directly, (aka private pay), because it is less expensive. Before you make your decision, it is important to understand the challenges of hiring a private caregiver.
There are sites online that can help you find a caregiver, or you can put the word out among family and friends. Once you tap into this market, the amount of contacts you can uncover is amazing. Getting names is not hard. The real work starts when you begin the process of interviewing and vetting.
Safety and companionship are the biggest concerns. You want to know the person you are bringing into your loved one’s home is not a criminal, they are responsible and that they will care for mom as you would.
Here’s the thing. Paying for a background check on each person is expensive. Even the least expensive ones start at $50.00 and that is a limited look at a person’s background. Many caregivers come from another country, so it can be difficult to match up their given name with the name they use here in the United States.
Of course, you are going to check references. But the process is time consuming, and people are often circumspect in giving you their opinion, which makes it hard to know if the caregiver will be a good companion for your loved one.
You and your loved one should interview the person together. Body language and chemistry between your loved one and the caregiver is important, and so is asking plainly, “Did you like this person?”
The potential caregiver needs to bring any certifications (Home Health Aide (HHA) or Certified Nurse Aid (CAN)) with them, along with a valid driver’s license for reference checks.
The biggest ongoing hurdle is the lack of backup. If the private pay caregiver gets ill, has a family emergency or takes a vacation, you are back to square one, either finding coverage for awhile or starting the hiring process over again.
When you hire someone directly, to be within the bounds of the law, you will need to set yourself up as an employer. The IRS considers an individual who is paid to provide a service within a residence to be a household employee. That means you will need to get an EIN number from the government, withhold taxes and make sure you have appropriate workmen’s comp insurance coverage. It is important to consult with your accountant on the tax laws and how to set up an EIN number. There are agencies that will help set up the EIN and payroll deductions, but it can be costly as well.
And if you think Medicaid will need to be part of your future financial strategy, then hiring someone directly and paying them “under the table” puts you at risk for qualifying and may incur hefty penalties.
Hiring through an agency
Working with an accredited home care agency assures you that complete and thorough background check is done on the caregiver. And they have extensive experience in vetting references. If you want to be assured that an agency is accredited, The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs keeps a listing of all accredited agencies. The agency will list on their literature or web site who they are accredited by (such as Joint Commission, or CHAP).
The big worry of having to quickly find backup if your caregiver gets ill or quits is alleviated when you hire an agency. The agency will find another caregiver for you, but you need to be realistic. It may take a couple of days, you may have temporary caregivers until another full time one can be found. All of which is stressful and requires that you are prepared for backup in an emergency. But YOU do not have to look for a replacement and all the work that requires. A replacement will be found, the family needs to be patient with the process.
As the employer, the agency has vetted credentials, filed all the government paperwork, and carries insurance. An agency must check for two references and the references must be a professional entity who can fully attest to their work and background, not just a friend or colleague. One benefit of an accredited agency is that caregivers have mandatory, annual continuing education. The Board of Nursing and Division of Consumer Affairs oversee accredited agencies and they have formal policies, procedures and a grievance process if there is a concern.
Talk to several agencies before making your decision. Each will come to your loved one’s home to asses the level of care that is needed. They will be looking at Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL’s). ADL’s are basic self-care tasks that include being able to dress, bath and feed themselves. Do they need help getting to the toilette or in an out of bed? IADL’s look at your love one’s ability to live independently. Can they clean and maintain the house? Can they go shopping, manage money or take prescribed medications?
Finally, talk to more than one agency, it will give you a sense of their back office. Who is there to take your phone calls? Is there a Care Partner on staff that can help guide you through any situations that may come up like a hospitalization? A nurse on staff that will regularly check to see if something has changed and a Care Partner that can guide you to resources is invaluable to the family and your loved one.
How to Stay Safe Using Online Communities and Social Media for Healthcare Information and Caregiver Support
January 15, 2019
Online communities and social media are a terrific way to find healthcare information and support. But how do you know if the source is credible? How do you keep yourself safe and information private?
Credible resources and privacy may be keeping you offline, but there are real benefits to these resources, the first of which is their availability 24/7. Questions that are keeping you from sleeping can be asked within a closed online community and answers can be waiting for you when you wake up.
Online communities like SmartPatients.com and Inspire.com are private, that is you must join before you can ask or respond to community questions. For example, SmartPatients has 140 communities, Inspire over 100 communities. Most of these communities center around specific diseases (eg. Breast Cancer). Then there are general communities like Caring For a Parent and Hospice. All of which means you are communicating with people that have similar experiences, while support is available for the patient AND their caregiver. Experts moderate these sites to ensure reply information is correct and they will work to find answers for you.
How do you know if an online community is credible and safe?
- Look for closed communities to join
- Read the About page to ensure they use expert moderators
- Look for research, legislative and advocacy work and partnerships with credible sources like the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Ask your physician and support group for recommendations
- Look for sites that end in .gov or .edu
Social media is a terrific way to get support for the patient and caregiver. Facebook is the most common social media forum, but Twitter and even Instagram have value.
Facebook has many closed and open groups based on diseases and support needs. Simply type “breast cancer” or “caregiving” into the search box and both groups and posts on that subject pop up. Groups can be public or private. Read through the descriptions, they will tell you the group’s purpose, if it is non-profit or if is a group you must join (private). If you ask to join, be prepared to wait a day or two before permission is granted.
Twitter is not the most intuitive place for healthcare information and support. But once you have a Twitter account you can participate in Tweet chats. Tweet chats are regularly scheduled online group discussions over Twitter. An hour long, they can be specific to diseases like the gynecological cancers twitter chat #gyncsm, co-facilitated by Dee Sparacio of WomenofTeal. The amount of research and medical information that can be found in some of these chats is amazing. And there are chats for caregivers as well. Caregiving.com hosts #carechat for caregivers every Tuesday at 1:00 PM EST.
If you are uncomfortable with the public nature of Twitter, each Tweet chat has a transcript, so you can read at your leisure, see the discussion, resources and links mentioned during the chat, all without ever typing in a character
Instagram is another social media platform that seems out of place for healthcare information and support. But it is used by medical institutions, advocacy groups and organizations to share event information, announcements and infographics on research.
How to stay safe and private on social media:
- Only join private Facebook or caregiver support groups. They are monitored and ensure group rules are followed.
- Don’t use the name of the person you are caring for, use a title like mom or dad. If you keep HIPAA compliance rules in mind, you are following the best model.
- Create an account with a nickname and don’t put any real identifying information like your birthdate or location. There are no Internet police who will catch you!
- Create a separate email address you use only for social media. Create different ones for each platform if you would like. There are no limits to how many Google accounts you can create.
- Follow research centers and teaching hospitals like the: NIC, NIH, Mayo Clinic, MD Anderson, Sloan Kettering.
- Follow professional organizations like: American Association for Cancer Research, Alzheimer’s Organization. They post vetted reliable resources.