In-Home Support Services Meeting Notes

Our January guest speakers from Independent You were Joanne McCarty, Executive Director of Clinical & Care Management Services, and Diana Gilbert, Geriatric Care Manager. Independent You is a care management and home care services company providing services for older adults who wish to maintain their independence and remain in the comfort of their own homes. Our speakers brought with them years of experience and a wealth of information to share.

Caregiving is a service that provides one-on-one assistance to individuals who need help with activities like bathing, toileting, dressing, cooking, cleaning, shopping, meal planning, and taking medication. Primarily, caregiving is provided to individuals in their homes but can also be provided in other settings or situations.

Joanne and Diana said that caregiving benefits their clients by allowing them to “age in place” in the familiarity of their homes and close to those they love. Caregivers help assure nutritional needs are met and medication is taken at the correct dose and time. Caregivers can also provide transportation when needed, help make the home environment safer, work to improve a client’s balance, and encourage exercise and socialization. By reading, playing games, and going for walks together, caregiving offers the benefit of companionship.

When is the right time to engage a caregiving service such as Independent You? One indication is a change in an individual’s status or condition. Perhaps a fall has taken place. Or a new limitation has been noticed. Or someone is coming home after a period of time in a hospital or rehab center. Caregiving might be needed on a temporary basis (until someone feels strong enough to be fully independent again) or just one-day-a-week (or even once-a-month) for an indefinite period of time. Whatever the need demands, Independent You is flexible in fulfilling.

Once the need for a caregiving service is determined, how do you know who to hire or where to even begin looking? There are over 300 caregiving services in Northern Virginia alone. Which can you trust?  Word-of-mouth is the best place to begin. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for recommendations. There is a big difference between caregivers and paid skilled help. The latter includes home health aides, skilled home health care personnel, visiting nurses, physical and occupational therapists, and hospice. These folks fall under your health insurance coverage and can only help or assist as prescribed and determined by your doctor and insurance company. They come to your home for the prescribed amount of time and then they leave. 

Independent You is a licensed home care agency and as an employer of caregivers, falls into the caregivers category. Their services can be used to complement those of the paid skilled help to fill the gap between what you still need and what you are not being provided. After an assessment by one of their RNs, a plan of care is set up so the caregiver has a plan of services for each client. These caregivers stay for as long as you have hired them to stay.

Services provided by home care agencies like Independent You are not covered by health insurance as of yet, although some Long Term Care policies may cover some services. Payment is usually out-of-pocket. Charges are per hour with a shift minimum. Rates vary with services required. In Northern Virginia, the rate for personal and companion care is around $33-$38 per hour. Click on Detailed Services and Fees to download a PDF list of services Independent You provides and their fees.

Independent You is a licensed home care agency under the Department of Health and as such follows all health department’s guidelines and policies. A list of professional affiliations and industry records and awards can be found here on their website. One of our members who uses their services (and recommended they visit our support group) spoke of the “profoundly courteous and respectfulness on both sides” when she lost her caregiver and went through a transition to a new one.

In addition to caregiving, Independent You also offers care management. Some of their clients use this service initially, others periodically for future planning. Joanne and Diana view care managers as client advocates. They look at everything, including the client’s physical and mental health, living environment, financial and social situation, spiritual life, and estate planning in place in order to identify concerns, provide care plan recommendations and determine the availability of resources and how their client can tap into them.

Full information can be found in their brochure. The PDF can be downloaded here.

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