As more and more baby boomers reach their golden years, more and more of them need the services of homecare and hospice agencies. This rapid influx is good for the industry, but homecare and hospice agencies need to be as vigilant as ever in their hiring practices of caregivers. Why? Because medical identity theft is on the rise, and homecare and hospice agencies are easy targets. You need to take immediate action to safeguard your agency, reputation, and clients from the growing threat of medical identity theft. Medical identity theft is an insidious crime in which an identity thief uses someone else’s identity to gain access to medical services, treatment, or equipment. Since elderly homecare and hospice patients are particularly vulnerable to the dangers of medical identity theft, your agency must take extra precautions. This includes stringent hiring protocols and foolproof IT policies and procedures. Most homecare and hospice agencies consult with experts to ensure their entire operation is protected from medical identity theft. Through a comprehensive review of the organization, medical identity theft experts ensure that homecare and hospice agencies: * Perform thorough background checks on all employees: Employees are the first line of defense to prevent medical identity theft, so it’s critical that homecare and hospice agencies put employees through a rigorous screening process. A medical identity theft expert assists with criminal background checks, speaking with references, and setting up a system for maintaining extensive employee records. * Create medical identity theft policies and procedures: Professional homecare and hospice agencies need to have a strict set of policies and procedures in place to safeguard protected health information (PHI) under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). * Ensure patient records are secure: Homecare and hospice agencies should have a secure IT network that only allows authorized users to access sensitive patient information. A medical identity thief can run rampant and ruin lives with the push of a button unless safeguards are built into the system. Complex passwords should be implemented only for those employees who need access to patient records. * Make sure both the doctors and patients are “real”: Many medical identity thieves prey on the system by actually impersonating doctors and patients for monetary gain. This includes pretending to be a doctor to prescribe medication for the thief and/or his cohorts, as well as using another person’s insurance card to obtain medical services. Do your homework to ensure that physicians have professional references and admitting privileges to medical facilities. As a homecare and hospice agency, you can significantly reduce your vulnerability to medical identity theft by working with a medical ID theft expert. Visit www.TheIdentityAdvocate.com or call 310.831.4400 to schedule your comprehensive medical identify theft review. And, don’t forget to ask how you can safeguard your homecare or hospice agency with an eye-opening “Lunch and Learn” for your employees.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people age 65 and older will comprise over 18 percent of the population by 2030. That’s almost double the current senior population. As a result of aging, many of these seniors will eventually require some form of assistance with daily living. A South Bay homecare services agency can provide a broad range of services to enable them to age independently at home. Before deciding whether homecare makes sense for your elderly loved one, it’s important to take an inventory of his or her health issues, daily needs, and general ability to manage the household. Here are 10 areas of concern when assessing an elderly loved one’s condition and whether he or she could benefit from South Bay homecare services: 1. Medical issues: Illness or injury can make it difficult or even impossible for seniors to function by themselves on a daily basis. The prospect of moving to a nursing home or assisted living facility may be either cost prohibitive or too emotionally taxing (or both). In many cases homecare is ideal because it’s affordable, maintains independence, and provides services targeted to specific needs. 2. Daily tasks: If basic tasks such as going to the bathroom, bathing, preparing meals, or going grocery shopping have become too difficult or time-consuming, South Bay homecare services can provide the daily assistance seniors need to be able to stay in their homes. 3. Hygiene: Seniors may pay less attention to their hygiene and appearance, which can lead to health problems. The cleanliness of bed linens, bath towels, and laundry should be checked, as well as their ability to clean themselves. 4. Behavior: Depression, anxiety, irritability, and memory loss can be common with seniors to a certain degree, but severe changes in behavior and mood may be symptoms of dementia and should be evaluated by a healthcare professional. 5. Safety: Home safety, such as remembering to turn off appliances or keeping doors and windows locked, is crucial if seniors wish to continue to age at home independently. The home should also be inspected for areas that cause falls. A South Bay homecare services agency can help prevent falls by ensuring all rugs have a slip-resistant backing, rearranging protruding furniture, removing clutter from walkways, and making sure there is adequate lighting throughout the home. 6. Nutrition: A proper diet becomes increasingly more important as we age, so seniors should be monitored to make sure they eat well-balanced meals and maintain a steady weight. 7. Finances: An inability to manage their personal finances, pay bills on time, and balance their checkbook is a clear sign that seniors need assistance to avoid services being shut-off or other issues that will affect their health and well-being. 8. Medication: Since most seniors take several kinds of medication every day, it’s important to make sure all medications are clearly labeled, conveniently located, and not expired. An inability to manage medications properly, including dosage, frequency, and refilling prescriptions, is a sure sign that they can benefit from daily South Bay homecare services. 9. Driving: Many seniors have driver licenses but may pose a danger to themselves and others due to impaired vision, hearing, and reflexes. A health professional can assess their ability to drive safely. 10. Mail: Stacks of mail are signs of forgetfulness at best or, at worst, demonstrate an inability or unwillingness to manage the household.