How Do You Choose Home Health Agencies

We rarely think about these things in advance and who can blame us?  So when a crisis occurs in our lives and we need to get a home health aide for a parent, relative, friend, or even ourselves, we tend to scramble in the dark.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) took a giant step forward for us and made it easy to answer the question: How do you choose home health agencies when you need someone to assist at home?

CMS created a user friendly online tool that digs deep into the resources in your state and zip code.


Find A Home Health Agency

I entered my zip code to test it and to compare three services that I might use. I had used two of them already, on separate occasions for relatives. The CMS results surprised me. They’ll help me make my choice the next time that I need help for myself or someone  else.

CMS used feedback from patient surveys and Medicare reporting data to create a star rating system based on how well organizations perform the basic tasks that we might need:

  • How often the home health team began patients’ care in a timely manner.
  • How often the home health team made sure that patients had received a flu shot for the current flu season.
  • How often the home health team taught patients (or their family caregivers) about their prescribed drugs.
  • How often home health patients got better at walking or moving around.
  • How often home health patients got better at getting in and out of bed.
  • How often home health patients had less pain when moving around.
  • How often home health patients got better at bathing.
  • How often home health patients’ breathing improved.
  • How often home health patients had to be admitted to the hospital.

Based on the information, home healthcare services can earn up to 5 stars. And you get to look at the ratings for each area and see how many stars the service you considered earned.

Dr. Patrick Conway,  Acting Principal Deputy Administrator for CMS said, “Adding star ratings to Home Health Compare is another step forward in our continuing efforts to empower consumers by providing more information to help them make health care decisions, while also encouraging providers to strive for higher levels of quality.”

We say, Way to go!

Published by

Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.