Be prepared when vetting home care agencies
What to look for when seeking a trustworthy, compassionate and professional caregiver.
Opting for in-home care over assisted living and rehabilitation facilities is a growing trend that shows no sign of slowing down. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that home health and personal care aid jobs will grow 34% from 2019 to 2029, a growth rate they classify as “much faster than other occupations.” And as more seniors choose home care over assisted living facilities due to COVID-19, there’s a good chance this industry will grow even more quickly than predicted.
Home care allows adults to live independently longer. It provides security and choice for the individual receiving care and peace of mind for their family members. From occasional respite care to a few hours a day to around-the-clock care, home care allows for flexibility.
Home caregivers can provide a wide range of services, from help with personal care and daily living activities to rehabilitation assistance after surgery. When looking for a quality home care agency, evaluate each one you consider with a thorough interview. The following questions will help you find a trustworthy, compassionate, and professional provider.
15 Questions to ask
Are you licensed and insured? Licensing requirements vary by state. Request a copy of an agency’s “insurance declaration page” as proof of coverage. You can also ask whether they hold any special certifications or accreditations.
How long has your agency been in business? Ask who owns and operates them.
How do you select your caregivers? Look for an agency that checks references. Verify the level of experience caregivers have before they are hired. Ask about background checks — a good agency will conduct background checks on all its caregivers.
Are your caregivers bonded? Look for a caregiver who is bonded against theft and ask the value at which they are covered.
How do you train your caregivers? Ask whether the agency provides ongoing training after caregivers are hired.
Do you assign your caregivers a supervisor to oversee the quality of care your clients receive? If the answer is yes, ask how often the supervisor will visit the client’s home.
How much do you charge? When discussing cost, ask whether there are different rates for holidays and weekends. Verify how often you are billed, whether rates vary depending on services and training level of the caregiver, and whether they require a deposit. Ask if they accept credit cards, and if it applies to you, ask whether they accept long-term care insurance.
What hours are you available? Confirm whether they are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including weekends and holidays. Ask whether they are available for emergencies and if so, ask whether there is an additional charge for this.
Do I have to sign a contract that locks me into services? Look for a provider that offers flexibility in case your needs change. Ask about the process for submitting requests for changes.
Do you write a personalized care plan for each of your clients? If so, ask what it includes and how often it is updated. Ask whether they include family members’ input.
How often and by what means do you communicate with family members? Ask whether they provide electronic communication, verbal communication or regular reports. Ask whether there is an additional fee for this.
How do you handle problems and complaints? Find out who you can call and how the agency follows up on and resolves complaints.
How do you ensure the confidentiality of your clients?
Do you have back-up care if my caregiver becomes ill?
Can you provide references? Reference might include doctors, clients and family members?
For more information
How to Pay for In-Home Care, AgingCare.com, May 29, 2020.
6 Steps to Finding the In-Home Care Agencies That Are Right for You, AgingInPlace.org.