Read What Patients Say About Home Health Agencies

Given the choice, most seniors who need help with care would prefer to remain at home rather than move to a nursing home. One choice is to hire help through a home health agency, but how to evaluate the agency?

This just got a bit easier for Medicare recipients, who can now see the results of surveys of patients who have used the agency’s services. Findings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) national survey that asks patients about their experiences with Medicare-certified home health agencies are now available on the agency’s Quality Care Finder website.

The survey results, which will be updated every four months with new data, will complement the clinical measures already available on the agency’s Home Health Compare website. The survey asks patients questions such as whether their home health team gave care in a professional way and communicated well with them; whether it discussed medicines, pain, and home safety; and whether the patient would recommend the agency to friends and family.

CMS says the survey results are designed to create incentives for home health agencies to improve quality of care, as well as to give patients additional information so they are aware of the types of care they will receive from a particular agency.

The initial survey results cover the period from October 2010 to September 2011. So far, patients are generally giving their home health agencies high marks.  For example, 84 percent of patients gave their home health agency a rating of 9 or 10 on a scale from 0 (lowest) to 10 (highest), and 80 percent of patients said “yes, they would definitely recommend the home health agency to friends.”

For more on hiring a caregiver, click read this article on in-home aides and and this piece on hiring caregivers.

For more on Medicare's home health benefit, check out this foundational article.