If you’ve made the decision that your aging family member’s needs are more than you can meet on your own, the process of choosing a home health service to assist in your loved one’s care may seem difficult and overwhelming. Asking a few basic questions can eliminate much of the guesswork and narrow the field to only the most reputable and qualified agencies.
What is the background of the agency and its staff? Authorities on caring for the elderly such as the AARP, National Association for Home Care and Hospice, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agree: the first criteria to consider are the agency’s history and the credentials of its staff. While the length of time the agency has been in business is not the most important factor, the experience of the caregivers, whether they are trained or certified for the specific needs of your loved one, and whether they are thoroughly background checked all contribute to the quality of care they provide.
Is the agency licensed, bonded, and insured? It’s essential that the agency you choose is licensed to provide home care if it’s required by your state, and that they are properly bonded and insured. It’s also important to make sure that the agency’s insurance extends to the caregivers who will be visiting your home or the home of your loved one.
Are the caregivers employees of the agency? This is a question that many of us may not think to ask, but it’s not uncommon in the home care industry for an agency to appear to employ caregivers when they are actually just a referral service for independent contractors. This makes you the employer of the caregiver; you could be responsible for employment taxes, worker’s compensation, unemployment benefits, and a litany of other expenses.
Can the agency provide references? A reputable agency should be able to provide a list of references. The list should include clients with similar cases to your loved one’s, as well as doctors and health care workers with whom they’ve interacted. Speaking directly to others who have used the agency’s services and hearing independent opinions from physicians and other medical professionals can give you great peace of mind that the agency is right for both you and your loved one.
Choosing a home care agency doesn’t have to be a laborious and stressful process. By limiting your search to only those firms that meet the above criteria, then using their references to make your final choice, you can select an agency you can truly feel good about and trust.