Choosing the Right Home Health Provider

10 Important Questions to Ask First

Your loved ones are just that: loved. So when the need for home care arises because a loved one is ill or recovering from surgery, you want to know whom to trust, and where you can go to find information. The same is true if you are making this decision for yourself.

Choosing the right home care provider for you or your loved ones can take much of the stress out of a difficult time. Still, the question you may have is, “How do I do this?” or, “Where do I start?” Hopefully our website will give you some good direction.

When LightHouse opened in 2001, the first thing we put up on our website was this section, “Choosing the Right Home Health Provider,” and it remains here today because we think it’s important to be informed and  ask the right questions.

What we have added this year to help you navigate your homecare journey feeling informed and supported, is a section called:

“The Keeper’s Corner”

Hey, its me Tiffany! I'm here to help!

Hey, its me Tiffany! I’m here to help!…where you can find answers to the frequently asked questions that Tiffany has collected during her ten years working with patients and families; a place where you can ask Tiffany your own specific questions, and here you’ll always receive confidential and individualized support and guidance. Click here to ask Tiffany a question.

Many of those who call us at LightHouse Healthcare have never had an experience with home health care, and do not know where to start. There is a lot to consider. That’s why we recommend starting early. If there is time, explore your options long before you or your loved ones are discharged from the hospital. Start talking about care planning options early.

At LightHouse Healthcare, we tell all of our patients and families to start with this goal: Find a provider who is qualified, reliable, responsive, compassionate and kind.


How do you do this?

First, ask for referrals or suggestions from your doctor, hospital social workers, friends and neighbors. Then, find out all you can about these home care providers’ reputations and the services they offer. Once you start asking around, you may be surprised how many people have feedback for you.

Second, we strongly suggest you speak directly with their office staff, and make sure they are patient with you, they listen to you, and they make you feel comfortable.

Which leads us to…


Keeping families together by promoting the health and independence of seniors living at home.

The following pages contain a list of questions that the National Association for Homecare suggests you ask each provider whom you are considering for the care of you or your loved ones.

We’ve included our own answers to these questions. For any other specific questions that you may have, please check out “The Keeper’s Corner” for a personalized area where you can see the most frequently asked questions and  find an easy and friendly way in which you can contact us and get your questions answered.


How long has the provider been serving the community?

LightHouse Healthcare, Inc. is a Medicare- and Medicaid-certified home health agency with two locations serving Northern Virginia: one just up from Reston Hospital on Bowman Green and one inside the beltway on Backlick Road in Springfield. We have been incorporated with Virginia since 2001 and received our Medicare certification in December 2001.

Does this provider supply literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements, fees, and funding sources? Many providers furnish patients with a detailed “Patient Bill of Rights” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of providers, patients, and caregivers alike. An annual report and other educational materials also can provide helpful information about the provider.

LightHouse Healthcare exists solely to provide high-quality care that meets or exceeds accepted standards. LightHouse Healthcare believes that each patient is worthy of respect and understanding and has rights and responsibilities related to his or her care. LightHouse Healthcare advises every patient on the Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities and seeks to help patients to understand and exercise these rights.

Other literature explaining our services, eligibility requirements, fees and funding sources is readily available and furnished to all clients before care begins. Also included for all patients are these educational booklets:

• Preventing Slips and Falls at Home

• Home Safety Tips

• Managing Medications at Home

• A personalized “My Emergency Plan”

• User-friendly information on advance medical directives.

Also, some documents, including our agency brochure and other specialty program information, are available for downloading or viewing on our website. If you have immediate questions about eligibility or anything else, please call us at 703-550-1400.

How does this provider select and train its employees? Does it protect its workers with written personnel policies, benefits packages, and malpractice insurance?

At LightHouse Healthcare, we gauge the success of our business solely on the health of our patients and on customer satisfaction. It’s the nurses, therapists and home health aides taking care of our patients every day who are directly responsible for those results. We seek to hire the best people, and then do everything we can do retain them, and provide meaningful careers where they see the difference they make in patients’ lives every day.

As part of our caregiver selection process, LightHouse puts its caregiving staff through a comprehensive screening and hiring process. All – that’s 100 percent – of our potential employees undergo strict criminal background testing through the Virginia State Police.

And we have extensive human resources policies, which to name a few include:

• Performance improvement and corrective action

• Family Medical Leave Act

• Bereavement leave

• Competency testing

• Reference checks

• Vacation and sick policy

• Substance abuse and drug-free workplaces

Further, all LightHouse employees have the following financial coverage:

• A workers compensation plan.

• $2 million /$4 million in general and professional liability insurance.

• A $50,000 surety bond for further protection of our employees and patients.

• A lucrative 401K Plan with a 50% match for all eligible employees.

We believe our employees make a difference every day. We want them to feel valued, happy, supported and appreciated because we believe this is the best way to ensure that they give you and your loved ones the best care you can get.

Are the nurses or therapists required to evaluate the patient’s home care needs? If so, what does this entail? Do they consult the patient’s physician and family members?

All of our patients at LightHouse receive a comprehensive evaluation and assessment by either the RN or a qualified therapist, all of whom have the specific skills, both written and verbal, to perform these evaluations and assessments. The assessment is the basis for planning patient care and the baseline against which progress toward mutually decided goals and outcomes are measured. We encourage patients and their families to become active in all healthcare decisions, including developing, planning, and participating in the plan of care. We coordinate patient care through regular communication with the patient, his doctor, and other caregivers and providers in the community. We always protect patients’ rights and safeguard their privacy and confidentiality.

All patients receiving skilled or personal care services have an initial on-site professional assessment within 48 hours from the date of referral or discharge from the hospital, whichever is later, unless otherwise ordered by the doctor. The start-of-care assessment visit usually can be done within 24 hours.

The clinical manager evaluates all medication a patient is taking for ineffective therapy, adverse reactions, allergies, contraindications and significant side effects, and problems are reported to the doctor promptly. A complete and accurate medication reconciliation is our highest priority to ensure a successful transition from hospital to home.

Each patient is assessed to determine whether they are at moderate or high risk for nutritional deficit, falls, or re-hospitalization. Plans to avoid falls or hospitalization is given by the admitting professional immediately to all treatment team members, in real time, using a laptop or tablet where we can share information right away.

Does this provider include the patient and his or her family members in developing the plan of care? Are they involved in making care plan changes?

Absolutely. We encourage and expect our patients to be very involved in developing, planning, and participating in their plan of care. Our mission, Keeping Families Together, demonstrates the value we place on involving the family. Of course, we are respectful and sensitive to our patients’ privacy requests and will share information with those the patient clearly desires.

Is the patient’s course of treatment documented, detailing the specific tasks to be carried out by each professional caregiver? Does the patient and his or her family receive a copy of this plan, and do the caregivers update it as changes occur? Does this provider take time to educate family members on the care being administered to the patient?

The registered nurse, therapist, or social worker will work with the patient, doctor and other team members to develop the plan of care. Each care plan addresses individual patient’s problems and needs, goals and outcomes, and specific care or services to be provided (interventions).

Each patient is encouraged to participate in planning care both at the beginning of services and throughout the course of care as much as he or she chooses to participate. When a patient is unable to exercise his or her rights because of physical or mental impairments, family members may do so on the patient’s behalf. The doctor will be notified when appropriate if the caregivers identify changes in the patient’s condition that indicate a need to change the plan of care.

Documenting the planning of care is maintained in the patient’s paper or electronic medical record and is available to the patient and family. It includes:

• Assessment Information/Reassessment (including OASIS)

• Doctor’s plan of treatment

• Case communication and coordination documentation

• Documentation of patient progress outlining specific tasks carried out by each professional caregiver

• Medication list

• Lab results

• Care protocols as applicable

• Patient/caregiver teaching materials

Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care patients are receiving in their homes? If so, how often do these individuals make home visits? Who can the patient and his or her family members call with questions or complaints? How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?

Peggy Taylor, MSN, RN oversees the clinical care at LightHouse. She’s been with the organization for 10 years. Peggy is highly responsive and can be reached every day at 703-550-1400. Mrs. Taylor’s primary job is to promote clinical competencies to ensure positive patient outcomes. She does this by directing and participating in the use of the Nursing Process to meet the realistic needs of the patient/client, as defined by doctor’s orders and the plan of care. She mentors staff on the most efficient ways to assess the patient’s/client’s needs, plan for their care, implement the plan of care, and evaluate the effectiveness of the care. Peggy routinely provides employee coaching that helps develop the person and delivery of the highest quality of patient/client care. By making regular supervisory visits, Peggy and other members of the supervisory staff ensure that the care is consistent, appropriate, compassionate and cost-effective, and that we are actively managing the patient’s/client’s needs.

As part of our commitment to customer satisfaction, a member of our administrative team calls all patients within 7 days of being admitted to make sure each patient is satisfied with their home care services so far. We have come to learn that most issues arise early, so we address them early. We remind patients to call us if they have concerns, complaints, or other feedback. We review agency 24-hour availability and on-call procedures, and emergency phone numbers. The 7-day follow up call is very valuable. If a patient is the least bit unhappy about any part of his home care, we find out early and fix it early, so the rest of their home-care experience can be positive.

When a complaint arises, we take great care to address it and resolve it to the patient’s satisfaction. All complaints made by patients, family, or a responsible party, either verbally or in writing, are investigated.

All complaints are logged with ongoing documentation until they are resolved. Our complaint policy is reviewed with each patient at the time of admission and throughout care as needed. We believe that being responsive and correcting a complaint is one way to make a relationship even better.

What are the financial procedures of this provider? Does the provider provide written statements explaining all of the costs and payment plan options associated with home care?

We take great care in providing patients with comprehensive financial information related to their home health care. As part of the informed consent process, patients are informed of all home care services that are ordered, the specific frequency and duration of those services, the cost of those services, and who is responsible for them. Advance beneficiary notices are provided for all Medicare patients when there is any change in the frequency, duration or type of services or when services are scheduled to end.

Flexible payment plans are available. Please feel free to contact Sandra Alderman, MBA-HCM  for your questions regarding financial procedures and costs.

What procedures does this provider have in place to handle emergencies? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

LightHouse is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During routine business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.and Saturday 9a-1:30p), all issues are handled by our main office. When calling the office with an urgent issue, you will likely reach Tiffany, Sandy, Peggy, Ieesha, or Dee. At that point, your call is immediately routed to the best person to handle it. After hours and on weekends, a LightHouse nurse is on call and available for patient triage and advice and urgent visits.

How does the provider ensure patient confidentiality?

Our ultimate goal is to protect patients’ rights, privacy and confidentiality. All employees receive advanced training on HIPAA in home care. LightHouse makes every effort to prevent any and all uses and disclosures of protected health information. Employees take all reasonable precautions to prevent disclosure of information beyond what is minimally necessary and to prevent disclosure of information to those who do not need the information to do their jobs. Our HIPAA privacy policies also cover all technical safeguards for computers that contain protected health information.







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