Live-In Home Care: How best to manage food appropriations – Part 3
Food appropriations combined with meal preparation is often one of the most challenging aspects of live-in home care for both the care recipient and the caregiver – not to mention for other individuals or family members involved in the process. To adequately cover what can be considered a broad topic with many parts, we have created a 3 Part Series to cover key aspects which includes: • Part 1: Introduction to Food Appropriations • Part 2: Assessing Needs and Making Preparations • Part 3: Implementing Policies and Procedures Part 3: Implementing Policies and Procedures In Part 1, we discussed the importance of families making a decision on how they would prefer to handle food appropriations prior to setting up live-in home care services. While each situation is unique, the family will have to decide on either purchasing food for their caregiver or providing their caregiver with a food stipend so they can handle this responsibility on their own. In Part 2, we discussed the importance of families making preparations in the home. Readying the kitchen in terms of basic cleaning and fresh food supplies for both the care recipient and the caregiver is a good start. Additionally, families are encouraged to go over safety measures with their caregivers as well as providing input on how best to prepare meals for their loved one to ensure nutrition and well-being are the priority. Good preparation is the key to success when managing the food appropriations and meal preparation piece of live-in home care services. With some of the bigger tasks out of the way, families are encouraged to implement a procedure on how food is delivered and a policy on how to handle food purchasing. In Part 3, we will present recommendations for both. It is not uncommon for families to assume their need for a ‘driving’ live-in caregiver who is has a valid driver’s license and who is also willing to handle this task so they in turn can assist with transportation for medical appointments, picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy and of course handling the grocery shopping. When analyzing the live-in caregiver ‘labor pool’, it is important to note that there are very few caregivers who are legally licensed to drive in the United States. Of the live-in caregivers who do have a valid driver’s license, a fractional number actually possess their own vehicle. Additionally, many live-in caregivers hired directly by a family or through a licensed home care agency are very apprehensive about driving due to insurance liability concerns, the risk of leaving a care recipient alone or the unknown potential behavioral issues which can occur while driving a care recipient suffering from a neurological impairment. When a care recipient does not have a family or friend network in place to assist with these driving matters, Boardwalk Homecare often times looks to provide them with community-based volunteer organizations which provide transportation services to homebound seniors. Typically, we recommend families contact their local town’s senior center or county office on aging to inquire about such volunteer organizations. Additionally, a number of supermarkets are making it easier for people to shop online (or over the phone) for at-your-door grocery delivery. One of the larger online services is Peapod which has a partnership with Stop & Shop and Giant Food Stores. As you shop online you can compare items and check out the nutritional labels to see if the food fits your dietary needs. Peapod also features sales and deals on select items every week and there are even coupons you can download and clip. Additionally, Peapod has added a number of features for their Mobile App making it even easier for caregivers to manage the grocery shopping process on a Smart Phone. This is extremely beneficial considering the number of situations that occur where senior care recipients do not have internet access or a personal computer. When a caregiver has been assigned to assist the care recipient with purchases, such as buying groceries, we strongly suggest the family institutes a policy or system of expense monitoring. The purpose of the policy is to make sure caregivers are fully aware of their responsibilities and the family guidelines when paying for goods or services with the use of care recipient’s private assets including checks, bank cards, credit cards, cash and any other method of payment. If the caregiver is responsible for purchasing items on a regular basis, we typically recommend the family obtaining a credit/debit card that can be used solely by the caregiver. One card makes expenses easy to track and anything inappropriate should be easily identifiable. Families should be sure to guard security information with the financial institution issuing the card and credit agencies. Another option is to set aside a designated amount of petty cash which can be kept in the same envelope as the receipts. With this type of arrangement, we suggest the family reconciles the receipts and change with the caregiver prior to adding more funds to the petty cash envelope. In conclusion, spending time to work out all of the details with food appropriations and meal preparation will make a big impact on the success of the live-in home care experience for everyone involved!