The largest segment of home care consists of licensed and unlicensed non-medical personnel who assist individuals with daily tasks such as bathing, eating, cleaning the home and preparing meals. Caregivers work to support the needs of individuals who require such assistance, and this care helps them stay at home versus living in a facility.*
Oftentimes the key to supporting a senior who wants to remain at home is to arrange for in-home care. Hiring the right caregiver can be a complex process. There are many, many home care agencies all across the country to choose from. A vast majority are owned and operated by people locally. Look at them first because they know your neighborhood and services that exist there.
This list of questions will be useful in ensuring that you are asking the right questions in the search process.
Questions to Ask
Once you have the names of several providers, you will want to learn more about them and their services. Following is a checklist of questions to ask providers in the initial interview:
- How much experience do they have and how long have they been serving your community? Are they licensed and bonded?
- How do they recruit and train their employees? Ask about their policy for ongoing training and education for their workers. Do they have a policy manual that describes and guides the work of their employees? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
- Are there any things they will NOT do? Some agencies will not work with patients that need a lot of hands on care like lifting and transferring. Others have limits on the types of maintenance or heavy cleaning they will do.
- Does the Provider have a “Patient Bill of Rights” that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the providers, patients, and caregivers alike? The can be helpful if there is a misunderstanding about roles and responsibilities later.
- Does this provider supply literature explaining its services, eligibility requirements and fees? Do they have malpractice insurance? Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
- Who performs the assessment and care plan? What does this entail? Who oversees the quality of care? How often do these individuals make visits? How does this provider ensure patient confidentiality?
- Who can the patient and his or her family members call with questions or complaints? How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?
- How is payment for services handled? Do they furnish written statements explaining all of the costs and payment plan options associated with home care?
- What procedures does this provider have in place to handle emergencies?
While it may be less expensive to work with individual providers, it is more difficult to ensure they can deliver the services you need when you need them. A few things to consider about hiring independently:
- How do you ensure that you have adequate background information?
- If they can’t work, who will cover for them?
- Do you have coverage for liability issues should they arise?
- Who will settle conflicts or disagreements when they arise?
*National Association for Home Care and Hospice