Ten Things to Ask Before Hiring a Home Care Agency
By Linda DeGraffenreid, Unlimited Care of North Texas, Inc., LIVING WELL Magazine
Today’s seniors have more options available to them than ever before. One option more and more seniors are turning to when their physical capabilities diminish or while they recover from a short-term disability is to be treated in the comfort of their own home, wherever that home might be, by a personal assistant or a caring companion. Many, including physicians, consider home care to be one of the most desirable options, because it allows seniors to maintain their independence while remaining in the one place where they feel most comfortable.
However, as in choosing any type of long-term care, there are many pitfalls to watch for when hiring a home care agency to care for yourself or a loved one. There are many competing companies offering what appears on the surface to be the same services. However, there are many differences and it is up to you to investigate these differences and find the one company that best fits your needs.
To help with this task, we have provided the following checklist of questions to ask each home care agency during the initial phone call. If they cannot answer these questions to your satisfaction, move on to the next agency until you find one that can.
1) How long has your company been in business?
There are a lot of new companies entering the marketplace, many of which have little experience or expertise in the special challenges of running a successful home care company.
2) Are your workers bonded and insured?
The company you want to work with must have extensive insurance, including professional and general liability, occupational, non-owned auto, and a dishonesty bond. Believe it or nor there are some companies that have minimal insurance coverage and others who have none at all.
3) How extensive are your criminal and background checks?
Do business with an agency that provides a criminal background check of each person they dispatch. The agency will also obtain a written reference check report. This procedure is a must for both the safety and care of your loved one.
4) Does your company have a licensed RN or licensed vocational nurse on staff?
Most reputable agencies have a licensed nurse on staff to assure that proper protocol is being followed in the care of a client. A trained nurse can help a caregiver identify safety hazards, recognize symptoms, observe special-diets, familiarize them with infection control procedures and universal precautions, establish hygiene standards, medication monitoring and more. In most cases, home care agencies that have a licensed nurse on staff are going the extra mile to provide quality assurance to the services their caregivers provide.
5) How do you select your employees?
Reputable agencies have minimum requirements for years of experience in levels of care. The best agencies will take into consideration such factors as demeanor and professionalism.
6) Can you send me information describing your services?
This probably seems like a basic question, but a company that has not spent the time developing important informational materials, probably haven’t done a lot of other important tasks either. Not only will these materials help you compare their services to those of other agencies, but they may also provide useful details that you hadn’t thought of at the time of your initial conversation.
7) What is the company’s replacement policy when talking about a caregiver?
In most cases a good agency will give you as many replacements as needed whenever needed without limitation. However, it does take time for a caregiver and a patient to feel comfortable with one another, so quick decisions sometimes aren’t the best option.
8) What are your financial procedures?
Make sure that you are aware of all the financial obligations that the agency of your choice requests. Also, ask how the caregivers are compensated?
9) Would you mind providing me with references?
Reputable agencies will be more than willing to provide you with both personal and professional references.
10) Can we set up a time to meet to discuss the details of my care needs?
It is always a good idea to meet the agency’s principal(s) or representative(s) in the patient’s home for the assessment. This allows the agency to match a caregiver that will be a comfortable fit with both patient and family.
Unlimited Care of North Texas, Inc. is entering our 15th year in the home care business and we are more than willing to answer any of the above questions or any general questions that you might have when considering the next step in your life’s journey. You may reach us at 940-390-0493.