Jul 10, 2018 by Toni Reinhart
It’s not unusual for me to answer the phone with an inquiry from someone shopping for in-home care for their parents and hear “how much does it cost?” as the first question. I get it, that is an important question. And, you probably have never shopped for home care before. But, there is more you need to know besides the cost. When I quoted some prices to a caller the other day, she said “well, I can get a caregiver for $18 an hour”. When I asked why she didn’t just hire that company, she replied “they don’t have anyone.” So, even though cost is important, it’s also important that they can staff, that they have reliable caregivers, and that someone is available to help you.
First, it’s good if you have a basic idea of what you are looking for. Although a good home care agency should have a care coordinator or nurse to help you with a plan of care, while you are shopping it helps if you know that you need dementia care, for instance, or just help with errands and meals. Are you looking for full-time help, live-in help, or just a few hours a week?
Depending on where you live, there could be dozens of agencies providing care in the home. How do you find one you can trust? They should be professional, trustworthy, and have the ability to meet your loved one’s needs now and in the future.
An agency that has been in business in the community for a long time is a good sign. They should be able to provide plenty of references for you to check and are probably good at what they do or they wouldn’t have stayed in business so long.
A home care agency operating from someone’s home has limited ability to properly train caregivers. Most zoning laws limit the number of people that can work out of a home, so that will hamper their ability to have someone available to help you with things like scheduling problems and insurance forms. Also, if they are working out of a home – where are your personal records being kept? Who has access to them?
Make sure the agency conducts national background checks. We live in a very diverse area and the state-wide background checks are rarely sufficient.
Ask who answers the phone after hours and what you do if you have a problem.
What is the agencies’ policy for a caregiver that does not show up for a shift? Does the agency have a system for the caregiver to clock in and out?
What is the cost for this?
Who is conducting the supervisory visits?
How is the training done? Who is training the caregivers?
It’s OK to ask for a copy of the cover sheet showing you how much liability coverage they have. Be sure to check on Worker’s Compensation insurance. Your homeowner’s policy does not cover a person you pay to work in your home. Their injury could be very expensive to you.
Agingcare.com also has a great worksheet: https://www.agingcare.com/documents/Home_Care_Interview_questions.pdf
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