Questions to Ask Home Care Agencies
Most seniors prefer to live in the comfort of their own home, a place where they feel more connected, safe, and secure. But as the aging process begins, living becomes more difficult, not only for the senior but also for each family member. This puts significant strain on your emotional, psychological, and financial resources which may eventually lead you to consider your home care options.
You are wise to do some research to find who’s best for your loved one and your family. Not only should the caregiver’s qualifications and work experience match the job description, but there should also be a good rapport between the caregiver and your loved one.
15 Questions to Ask Potential Home Care Agencies
It’s important to make a smart, informed decision when it comes to hiring a home care agency such as Arosa. Like working with any business or service, you want to read your prospective home care agency’s literature, terms, and conditions.
The following questions should be asked of home care agencies:
- Does your agency employ its own caregivers?
- Are your caregivers covered under Workers’ Compensation?
- Does your agency provide liability and insurance coverage?
- Are your caregivers bonded and insured for theft?
- Does your agency require criminal background checks and drug testing?
- Does your agency have a contract agreement and clearly explain all rates and fees?
- Can your home care agency provide immediate backup in case of an emergency?
- Are your care managers credentialed professionals such as a nurse or social worker?
- Does your agency provide care technology with on-call video support?
- Can my family meet the caregiver prior to receiving home care?
- Does your agency require an hourly minimum per shift? If so, what is the minimum?
- Can your agency provide access to local resources to save us time and money?
- Does your agency have a local business address where I can meet the office staff?
- How quickly can your home care agency initiate services?
- Does your agency provide a comprehensive biopsychosocial assessment?
Below you’ll find a detailed approach to understanding the quality of a home care agency you may be considering. Ultimately, your goal is to find not only a qualified but empathetic caregiver who will integrate themselves into your family life and help both you and your loved one gain some peace of mind, no matter what comes.
Things to Consider When Hiring a Home Care Agency
Selecting a home care agency can feel like a weighty process. With so much at stake, it’s important to know the appropriate steps to take and to stick to a game plan. Researching the following points will get you well on your way to ensure the best home care experience:
Licensing and Employment
First, start by looking into the licensing status of the agency you are considering. Your target agency will be licensed and bonded, meaning that the quality of care has been assessed and approved by a third-party accrediting agency (think Medicare).
Depending on the state in which the service is provided, some home care agencies are required to have a Home Care Organization (HCO) license. Research the HCO requirements for your state. Individual agencies can be researched on the Medicare website. Navigate to their new “home health compare” tool where you’ll find quality information. If you’re more comfortable on the phone, call the Medicare helpline at 1-800-MEDICARE.
Your ideal home care agency will have comprehensive information on the scope and specifics of their patient confidentiality policies. Checking into the company’s communication policy regarding who can access patient information, and setting up access to that information for you and your loved one is an important step. If you are coordinating care for a loved one from a distance, this step is especially critical. If this detail is overlooked, HIPAA regulations may prevent you from gaining access to information on your loved one’s health status when they need you most.
All kinds of events can happen along your loved one’s aging journey. You want to make sure someone is there to keep you apprised and educated. Ask the agency you’re considering about their policy on staff communications. Will there be someone available 24/7? What kind of response time can you expect in a crisis? What are their emergency contact procedures?
Continuity of Care
Having only one or two caregivers over time—rather than a frequent change of faces and names—will help your loved one fare better. It will also improve the quality of their care since the caregiver will get to know your loved one’s routines and be better able to recognize when something seems different from one day to the next. Check with the agency to get their policy on caregiver absence. Do they have a contingency plan in case your loved one’s caregiver is sick, unavailable, or away?
Care Manager Credentials
Look into your care manager’s credentials. Geriatric care managers hold licenses as nurses or social workers and have special training in gerontology, psychology, and/or other related fields. The combination of credentials, training, and experience makes geriatric care managers experts in assessing, coordinating, and monitoring of elder care services.
When evaluating a team of care managers, ask about their experience in the spaces of health and disability, financial matters, housing, resolving family issues, finding local resources, advocating for seniors, as well as their level of comfortability with legal documents and questions.
References and Reputation
The health of your loved one matters a great deal to you, so take references seriously. Ask for at least three references for each agency you’re considering and do a background check via an online site or through your personal and professional networks.