459 Herndon Pkwy #5, Herndon, VA 20170 | Become a Caregiver

Back to Article List

How do I choose a Home Care Agency to care for my parents?

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.

  • How long has the agency been in business?

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.

  • Does the agency have an office where I can come and meet the staff?

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?

  • Does the agency conduct background checks and check driving records?

Make sure the agency conducts national background checks.  We live in a very diverse area and the state-wide background checks are rarely sufficient. 

  • Does the agency provide 24/7 telephone service?  With a member of the agencies staff and not an answering service?

Ask who answers the phone after hours and what you do if you have a problem.

  • Does the agency have back-up coverage?

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?

  • Does the agency provide transportation services?

What is the cost for this?

  • Does the agency make periodic supervisory visits to the clients’ homes?  How often?

Who is conducting the supervisory visits?

  • Does the agency provide on-going training to the caregivers?

How is the training done?  Who is training the caregivers?

  • Does the agency carry the appropriate licensing for their state?
  • Does the agency carry the appropriate liability coverage and other insurance?

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.

  • Will the agency provide you with references?

You can view Comfort Keepers literature here and download the brochure.  This will give you a 20-question worksheet to help you evaluate care agencies. 

Agingcare.com also has a great worksheet: https://www.agingcare.com/documents/Home_Care_Interview_questions.pdf

We are here to help 24/7. Contact us today or call (703) 424-9519.

Vet Fran
Franchise 500
World Class Franchise