Deciding to use a home care agency to support day to day independence for yourself or a senior loved one is a big first step. And, even if a senior doesn’t need care immediately, interviewing local home care agencies is a good way to learn more about what’s available in your area.
Contact information and notes from your top three choices can be saved as part of a long term senior care plan – ready to be accessed as you need them.
Questions To Ask When Selecting A Home Care Agency
One consideration often begets another, so we’ve compiled a list of questions to ask as you make your way closer to the right home care agency for you.
Is the agency licensed?
Anyone can advertise they are an experienced caregiving agency, but you need to make absolutely sure prospects are licensed. The protocols required by states to maintain licensure is a good sign the agency is legitimate. Licensing also correlates with better health standards and safety requirements. Once an agency is licensed, it remains on the state bureau’s radar and can be inspected by state officials at any time.
Do they hold memberships/affiliations with industry-recognized organizations?
Most licensed home care agencies hold current memberships, affiliations, or partnerships with industry-recognized organizations. Examples include:
Verify these with prospective agencies and research their ratings and/or customer feedback whenever the information is available online.
How long have they served the community?
Every company has to start somewhere. That said, experience and expertise are invaluable. The longer a home care agency has served clients in your community, the more legitimate they are. Also, they will have references you can contact to learn more about the client/family perspective.
Do they offer ongoing education and training for their employees (and clients)?
We’ve learned so much about healthy aging, particularly in terms of how diet, lifestyle, and social engagement (or lack thereof) impact the aging process. We also recognize there is always more to learn.
The best caregiving agencies provide ongoing education and training for employees, keeping everyone abreast of the latest and greatest in geriatric research and medicine.
An agency’s investment in their caregivers also extends to training employees on how to use durable medical equipment they may encounter in the workplace, and how to keep their bodies, minds, and spirits in top shape – always using best ergonomic practices for transfers and mobility support.
Finally, families should verify that caregivers or internal agency staff are willing to provide tips for family caregivers to support all members of the caregiving team.
Do you know anyone in the area who uses a particular agency?
We love getting word-of-mouth referrals. They’re a sign that our work speaks for itself. Ask others in the community – friends, neighbors, church/synagogue members, etc. – if they know of good senior care agencies in the area. Start there when you’re ready to schedule in-home assessments.
How do they handle billing, insurance, and other funding options?
The cost of home care is a top consideration for most families. The good news is that working with a home care agency is almost always notably more affordable than facility-based care. That said, you still have to pay for it.
Most families use a combination of funding to pay for home care, ranging from personal savings and retirement accounts to private health insurance, Medicare, veterans benefits, or reverse mortgages.
Read Paying For Senior Care… to learn more about your options. Once you’re clear on how you’ll be paying for caregiving services, you can ask prospective agencies about their billing, payment, and funding options so there aren’t any surprises.
Are there minimum hour/shift requirements?
Unless specified otherwise, most home care agencies have minimum hours-per-shift and/or days-per-week requirements. For example, caregivers must be used at least three times per week, and for no less than four hours per shift.
Does your loved one require medical care?
The arenas of senior home care and home health care are like concentric circles. There are places where they share space, but most home care agencies aren’t legally allowed to provide medically-specific care such as catheter or wound care, diagnostics, modifying prescriptions/doses, etc.
If your loved one requires medical support, you’ll want to find a designated home health care agency, or senior home care providers with experience working in tandem with home health staff, to provide full-spectrum care.
Is memory care a consideration?
Memory care is its own niche in the senior care services menu.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another dementia-related condition, you should find a home care agency with memory care experience.
Supporting the wellbeing of someone who needs companion services or who likes to get out and about once in a while is one thing. Supporting a client with progressive memory loss requires another level of knowledgeable and experienced care from trained caregivers.
How does the agency document care and/or communicate with family?
Whether you live next door or across the country, you should be regularly informed about your loved one’s well being. Similarly, you should have access to the notes and documents completed by caregivers so you always feel like part of the caregiving team.
Home care agencies handle client/family information and communication in a range of ways. Get clear on their policies and procedures and verify you will have immediate access to any relevant updates or changes in the care plan.
Do they offer full-time and/or live-in care?
For now, your parent or loved one may only require support a few times a week via transportation, errand running, or companionship. Over time, however, s/he may require increasing assistance that blossoms into full-time or a live-in basis.
To maintain consistency and avoid potentially disruptive transitions, we recommend choosing between home care agencies who are as happy to provide a one-time, post-op “Welcome Home” service as they are to provide 24/7 care.
Finding The Right Home Care Agency For Your Needs
At Georgetown Home Care, we understand that it can be overwhelming and challenging to locate comprehensive information on home care options. This is why we strive to provide reliable, unbiased resources so you can make the best decision for your family, and your loved one.
Have more questions? Our compassionate, dedicated team is always available to offer support and welcomes you to explore our suite of home care services.