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Senior Citizen's Guide to Pittsburgh

How to Choose a Homecare Provider

Medicare Certified Home Health Agencies

The term home health agency often indicates that a homecare provider is Medicare certified. A Medicare-certified agency has met federal minimum requirements for patient care and management and therefore can provide home health services that are paid for by Medicare from a home health agency. Due to regulatory requirements, services provided by these agencies are very specific and must meet all the Medicare rules.


Hospice care involves a core interdisciplinary team of skilled professionals and volunteers who provide comprehensive medical, psychological, and spiritual care for the terminally ill and support for patients' families. Hospice care also includes the provision of related medications, medical supplies, and equipment. It is based primarily in the home, enabling families to remain together. Trained hospice professionals are available 24 hours a day to assist the family in caring for the patient, ensure that the patient's wishes are honored, and keep the patient comfortable and free from pain. Hospices are Medicare-certified and licensed according to state requirements.

Personal Care

These agencies mostly provide non-medical services such as companions, homemakers and just about anything else people need to help them remain in their home. Pennsylvania does not require these agencies to be licensed or meet regulatory requirements. Some agencies assign nurses to assess their clients' needs to ensure that personnel are properly assigned and provide ongoing supervision. Also, some agencies have homecare aides who are contractors, not employees. No matter what the business model is for a homecare agency, consumers should understand the process and feel free to ask questions to better understand the agency's management and policies.

Choose Your Agency Carefully

There are plenty of people ready and willing to help you or a loved one receive care at home. Their recommendations are helpful in making your selection, but careful consideration should be given before making your final selection. The following are a list of questions you can print off and use to help select the homecare provider that best suits your needs.

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