SHERBURN - Baywood Home Care is trying to get the word out: Long-term care at home is an option.
"We do a lot of things, but our specialty is nursing home care at home," said Dorothy Muffett, Baywood's founder and president.
At its home base in the Greater Twin Cities, such services are more common, but not so in the Fairmont area. In 2009, Baywood merged with Compassionate Nursing Care in Sherburn, which is the site of one of its five southern Minnesota offices.
Other locations include Mankato, Owatonna, Albert Lea and New Ulm.
The company employs 133 home health aides, and a dozen nurses and office staff. The employees care for about 115 clients across the state, a third of whom receive live-in care.
In this area, Baywood averages 20 clients - more than half of whom receive live-in care. Under the supervision of two registered nurses at the Sherburn office, home health aides provide 24-hour live-in care for these clients. The aides' typical shifts are seven days on, seven days off. Their duties range from running errands, to bathing and toilet assistance, to caring for catheters, to administering medications and oxygen, to assisting with transfers.
"A lot of times the aides become part of the family," said R.N. care manager Tasha Grossman.
The company's registered nurses assess clients' conditions, set up and supervise medication management, communicate with family and medical provides, arrange services such as physical therapy, order medical equipment and attend doctors appointments.
When more advanced medical services are needed, like wound care or even hospice, Baywood works in cooperation with Medicare home care providers.
"We are completely different from Medicare home care, which is not long-term," Muffett said.
This is one of the common points of confusion about live-in care. Another is that it's too expensive.
If a person has no funds to cover long-term care, Medicare covers the costs. But for those who do have the funds, they can choose from one of three options: staying at home with live-in care, moving into an assisted-living facility or moving into a nursing home.
Few of Baywood's clients would be considered wealthy, and it's even more rare for children to pay for their parents' care, Muffett said. Most clients are ordinary middle-class people who have saved their money to help pay for their care in their senior years - and many have long-term care insurance, which covers a good portion of the cost.
Generally speaking, the cost of live-in home care is comparable to a nursing home. Baywood charges a flat rate of $300 per day for individual live-in care. If a couple are living in the same home, the cost goes up nominally, often making live-in services much less expensive for the couple than life at a nursing home.
"We're anxious to let more people know this is an option," Muffett said.
Talking about these options with your loved ones is important, Grossman said, and it's better sooner than later, in order to know your family members' wishes and have a plan in place.
"Some people have time to play, but sometimes you have to move quickly, which is when things get more chaotic, and disagreements are more likely to occur," she said.