Sometimes getting your elderly relatives to agree to seek out home care can be difficult, but once they have agreed, it is time to look for a home care service provider. There are many home care companies out there that offer elderly care, but it is important to know how to find a reputable care provider.
Below, we outline some considerations you must take into account when looking for a home care service company to ensure that you choose a good provider the first time.
Know What Kind of Home Care You Need
The first thing to consider is the type of care you or your loved one needs. Do you need a caregiver to come by for a few hours a week to provide companionship or a home aide to help with light housekeeping and cooking? Or maybe you need a caregiver present 24/7 because your loved one is bed ridden?
Home care companies offer all of the above-mentioned services and more, and it helps to know what your needs are when looking for a care provider. If you aren’t sure, that is still ok. A reputable home care agency will meet with you and your loved one and help determine the best possible care.
Call some home care companies on the phone and ask them some questions to get an idea of their overall performance. Tell them who needs care and ask what services they suggest. Calling more than one provider will help you establish a baseline for cost and make a short list of home care providers to invite for an in-home assessment.
Ask Caregiving Agencies for a List of Referrals
Reputable home care agencies will have plenty of referrals to share with you. They will most likely only give you referrals from happy clients and patients, but this is still valuable.
Ask their references about the care they needed, how knowledgeable their caregivers are, and whether they would recommend the caregiving agency (you may be surprised by what you hear).
You should also ask them if there were any extreme situations and how the care agency handled it. For example, how fast were they able to replace a caregiver if they called off last minute.
Don’t forget to ask them if they had worked for a home care agency before or after the agency that you are inquiring about. If so, ask them what made them switch between providers.
In-Home Care Service Cost and Time Minimums
You must understand that home care services are not cheap when inquiring about the cost of service. Ask the following questions to learn more about a home care agency’s cost:
- Ask for their hourly rates and whether the rates depend on the services needed. They may have special rates for live-in or overnight care.
- Ask if they work with health insurance providers or state organizations that offer financial assistance for people that qualify for that type of aid.
- Ask if they work with long-term care insurance and if so, do they bill the company directly or require you to pay up front for care and then seek reimbursement.
- Ask what payment methods they accept.
- Ask if they have a minimum hourly requirement for a visit – most home care providers have a four-hour minimum.
Longevity and Credibility
Find out how long a home care agency has been providing home care services to the community. It’s impossible to stay in business for decades if the care they provide is not up to par. Home care agencies that have been in business for years have had time to adjust their services for their clients and community.
Another important thing to ask is if the elderly care agency is part of a bigger organization. That’s important because franchisees are required to follow procedures developed by the parent company that have been time tested.
That doesn’t mean you must look for a caregiver that is part of a well-established home care franchise, but there is safety in numbers and you want to hedge your bets because changing home care providers is time consuming and stressful.
Caregivers Training and Care
It is important to know how well a home care agency takes care of the caregivers that they send to your loved one’s home. Do they go through screening and background checks? There are countless caregiver horror stories and you need to know that the person entering your loved one’s home is trustworthy.
Are their caregivers trained and up to date on the latest in-home care? Do they undergo training on a monthly/ quarterly basis? The field of elderly care changes rapidly and new techniques are always being developed so you only want to work with caregivers who stay current.
Are their caregivers protected by written personnel policies, benefits packages, and malpractice insurance?
Your caregivers should be employees of the home care agency for your protection. If a caregiver is not technically an employee of the home care agency and they get hurt in your home, you can face a lawsuit. If the caregivers are employees of the home care agency, then the home care company will have insurance to cover incidents like this.
Choosing a home care agency for an elderly relative can be a complicated process. It is important to take your time when choosing a home care agency so you will only have to choose once.