Selecting the Right Home Care Agency

Life can be stressful enough when you or someone you love needs home care. If you do a quick “Google” search, you’ll easily become inundated with information, some helpful, the rest not so much. We wanted to provide some key tips when starting your search to help streamline the process.

The first step when selecting home care is to identify what kind of service you’re looking for. It’s important to know there are different types of agencies. There are non-medical home care agencies like For Papa’s Sake Home Care, or there are medical agencies which are also referred to as home health.

The terms home care and home health care are often used interchangeably. However, there are some big differences to highlight. At the most basic level, home care refers to any services that are targeted to keep an individual safe and comfortable – without requiring any specific healthcare or medical treatments provided by the caregiver. Home care services are most often used to help a senior age in place at home. It is important to note that non-medical home care services are not covered by medical insurance; however, long-term care insurance is accepted.

Home health care involves more skilled, medical assistance and requires a prescription for treatment. In this case, the individual has a medical condition or is in some version of post-surgery and their needs require assistance from a licensed medical care provider.
The next step to finding the right kind of home care agency is to determine the level of care. Some families need minimal hours to help around the house with light housekeeping, shopping, meal prep and cooking. Others need more heavy lifting and personal care such as showering, which will require a more specialized and experienced type of caregiver. In any event, it’s important to know upfront what kind of services you’ll be looking for. Once you have a solid idea of the overall needs, then the research can start.
When researching, start with a Google and/or Yelp search. Try and look at the overall volume of ratings along with the star rating. It’s also important to read the negative reviews and see how the owner or manager responds to the negative feedback. Also, ask around – neighbors, friends, doctors, online groups – you never know who will have a personal recommendation. Once you’ve found a few agencies you’d like to meet with, give them a call and have your questions outlined and ready to go. It’s important to personally interview the agencies and select the agency that makes you feel the most comfortable.

Example Questions

Once you have selected a few agencies to speak with, it’s a good idea to interview and compare them. Have your questions ready – here are some sample questions to get you started.
• How long has your agency been providing home care services?
• Is the agency licensed by the state? Can you provide your license and certificate of liability?
• What service area does this agency cover?
• What is your average caregiver turnover rate? What benefits do you provide your caregivers? (This is an important one – you want to make sure you select an agency that treats their employees with respect otherwise you could see turnover)
• What does your agency’s training program look like? How is it enforced?
• Who performs background checks on your caregivers?
• What is your caregiver/client matching protocol?
• Who is overseeing the caregivers and overall care plan?
• How can I reach an on-call manager after hours or on weekends?
• How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems or concerns?
• What procedures does the agency have in place to handle emergencies?
• How does your agency handle health progression as the situation changes?

Selecting a home care agency is a very personal and difficult choice. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask as many questions as you need and ask for references of past and current clients to get a comforting sense of who you’ll be working with.

At the end of the day, you should select an agency that gives you complete peace of mind. The agency will ultimately become an extension of your family so we always recommend not rushing into selecting an agency. Take your time, ask questions, do research and most importantly, follow your gut.