Should you hire a home care agency or a private caregiver?

man and woman discussing an issue while sitting at a table

The pros and cons of each

One of the hardest moments for an adult son or daughter is realizing an aging parent needs help with daily living. The signs are obvious: a once meticulous home becomes untidy, they wear the same clothes almost every day, new dents in their car, the refrigerator has little food inside, poor personal hygiene goes by the wayside. And sadly the list goes on.

Most adult children begin with in-home care where a caregiver visits the parent on a regular schedule. It could be a half-day where the caregiver prepares meals, helps the parent with hygiene and dressing, ensures their medicine is taken on time and tidies up their home.  Or it can be up to 24-hours a day.  Which allows the adult child to help their parent remain at home, and each is happiest with this decision.

Considerations for hiring a freelance caregiver vs a home care agency
There are many variables related to the debate of hiring a freelance caregiver or engaging a home care agency. The biggest consideration for many is cost.

Before considering a lower-priced provider of home care services for your aging parent or loved one, there’s much to be considered. When hiring a “private or freelance caregiver,” there are significant risks, responsibilities and requirements that can cost time and money.

Compared to the many options available, you will find private duty home most cost-efficient. SYNERGY HomeCare has packages that fit most budgets.

Sure, you could save money on the hourly rate of a private caregiver, but consider the extra time and money spent on background checks, payroll and taxes. You may have to purchase additional liability insurance coverage for injury or theft. Also consider caregiver turnover, as each time this happens, you may be without a caregiver for several weeks until you find one who meets your requirements.  Weigh the hourly savings vs the time and money spent on a new hire.

Before hiring privately, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Am I good at supervising others, and do I enjoy managing people and administrative tasks?
  2. Am I able to communicate clearly and regularly what I want and need?

Here is a list of recommended questions to ask potential freelance caregivers:

  1. Do you have a driver’s license? Reliable transportation and insurance? How far from here do you live?
  2. Do you have first-aid training? Do you have any formal caregiving training?
  3. Can you perform the duties required for this position?
  4. If we are delayed, go out of town, or go on vacation would you be able and willing to adjust your schedule?
  5. Where was your last job? How long were you there? Why did you leave? May we contact your past employer?  
  6. If meal preparation is needed, what kind of food do you cook? 
  7. Will you keep daily records?  
  8. Why should I hire you?
  9. How will you keep the family informed?

What about an in-home care agency?
Home care agencies, such as SYNERGY HomeCare, offer licensed, bonded and insured caregivers who have undergone rigorous background checks as well as a physician’s clearance, TB and Hepatitis B testing as safety precautions. Agencies also have a “bench” of caregivers to help when your loved one’s regular caregiver is ill or delayed so there is no interruption of services.

While there are a myriad of different home care agencies to consider, it is recommended to use a checklist of questions to ask each agency you vet, document the answers, then weigh the pros and cons of each agency to make a hiring decision.

There are many variables related to the debate of hiring a freelance caregiver or engaging a home care agency. The biggest consideration for many is cost.”

Why do home care agencies typically cost more than freelance caregivers?
With an agency, you receive the measures used to ensure your loved one’s safety, such as training, education, liability insurance, recruiting and more.  To help offset cost, many agencies, such as SYNERGY HomeCare, will assist with long-term care insurance, Medicare or Medicaid to help cover the cost of home care.

List of recommended questions to ask home care agencies:
Determine what services you need and ask the agencies if they can comply.

  • How long has the agency been in business?
    • Do you have references?
    • What differentiates their agency from all the others?
    • What does home care cost?
    • Is there a minimum number of hours per shift?
    • Do I have to sign a long-term contract?
    • Ask how they handle cancellations
    • Does the agency have continuing education for caregivers?
    • Do you background check your caregivers? To what extent?
    • Is the agency bonded, licensed and insured?
    • Will you coordinate my care with other health providers and my insurance company?  
    • What if my caregiver can’t make the shift?
    • How do you match me with a caregiver?  
    • Can you make it easy for my family to know how my parents are doing?   

Whether you work with an agency or hire independently, the most important factor to consider is a fit that provides peace of mind to you and your parents or family by knowing they are in compassionate and caring hands.