If you are looking for a safe home care solution for senior parents, you’ll want to check out this list of questions to ask when interviewing home care agencies. There is certain truth to the expression “you get what you pay for.” That is particularly true in home care services for seniors where families and aging adults who are seeking home care services for the first time generally don’t have a frame of reference for how to evaluate and compare home care agencies.
It is a common scenario, and frankly, it is completely understandable. After all, if you have never purchased or experienced home care services before (good or bad), how could you possibly know what to look for in selecting a provider? So, in the absence of knowing how to correctly screen, evaluate and select an agency, many consumers default to price as their key selection criteria, and in the end, sadly come to realize they got what they paid for.
In this post, we highlight items to examine and important questions to ask in narrowing down your search for an in-home care agency to entrust with your care or the care of a family member.
How long has your home care agency been in business?
Look for a well-established agency that has been in business and serving the community for at least 10 years. This is necessary and sufficient time to establish an adequate and reliable team of caregivers, and a strong referral network of other senior care service providers whose services may be required in the future.
What services does your agency provide, and is there a minimum required number of hours/days per week for these services?
Look for an agency that provides a full suite of care services ranging from simple companionship to more complex medication management and skilled nursing care. With aging comes an eventual decline in physical and cognitive abilities, and an increasing reliance on family and care specialists to support activities of daily living. Be sure to select an agency that offers the full breadth of home care services to ensure comfort now and in the future.
The number of care hours required will vary depending on the needs of the aging adult and/or family. Keep in mind, however, that the more hours you contract for, the more likely you will be of having continuity in your care. Short shifts are hard to fill dependably with the same caregiver. Longer shifts are easier.
Do you offer a free in-home consultation?
Don’t waste your time with an agency that does not provide FREE in-home care consultations. Good agencies accept that there are certain sunken costs to doing business. Free in-home consultations and the resources required to provide them (time and expertise) is a necessary cost of doing business in senior care. It’s an investment home care agencies make to help ensure you and/or your family makes the right decision.
Will you develop a care plan to address my loved one’s specific needs?
Care plans align expectations and establish a level of accountability. A care plan should be customized for each individual, and ideally, developed by a registered nurse. The plan should then be monitored on an ongoing basis and adjusted as needed.
How are your caregivers screened?
Care at home for an older adult should only be provided by a caregiver who has been thoroughly background checked, including checks against a sex offender list and to confirm there’s no history of elder abuse, as well as drug screenings and driving record verifications.
Is your agency bonded and insured? And are they employees of your agency?
If caregivers are employees of an agency, it means you and your family are free from any liability for mandated taxes and worker’s compensation. Bonded, insured agencies further protect families from any potential liability.
Is there supervision and oversight of caregivers? If so, by whom?
Training, supervision, and oversight of caregivers by a registered nurse or other medical professional means greater accountability as well as higher quality care for your loved one.
Has the agency achieved any special certifications?
Look for an agency with accreditation, such as the Joint Commission, which ensures they have met an objective set of quality standards by a reputable third party.
What training is provided to your caregivers?
Find out if caregivers have been trained on basic home care tasks, such as transferring, and for specialized conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, and whether or not the agency provides ongoing education for its care team.
Will you maintain communication with our family to update us on the care being provided?
Communication is crucial to a family’s peace of mind. Make sure the agency is committed to openly and honestly sharing details about care provided according to your own request: daily updates, a weekly recap, etc.
What process does your agency have in place to address and resolve any problems we may have?
In the event of a concern or problem, you’ll want to know who to contact, how to contact that person, and how quickly they’ll work to resolve that issue.
Is someone available 24/7 to answer our questions?
Senior home care isn’t a 9 to 5 industry. Make sure the agency you’re considering is available around the clock to help in any way needed.
Getting answers to these questions and any others you may have is a good starting point in narrowing down your search. It’s important to keep in mind as well that hiring someone from a classified ad or a “friend of a friend” can have dangerous consequences to both the family and the aging adult, including risks such as physical, emotional, or financial abuse, liability for any injury, and employee-type responsibilities for all mandatory taxes, worker’s compensation, etc.
Contact Right at Home to learn more about our reliable, trusted in-home elder care in Venice, FL and the surrounding areas. Call us any time at (941) 929-1966. It would be our pleasure to discuss and provide services to address your in-home care needs.