Choosing to hire a home care agency is a big deal; whoever you hire will have access to your personal belongings and spend hours of time with you. It has to be the right match.
Whether you’re looking for a home care provider for yourself or for a family member, there’s a lot you need to know.
Different agencies have different procedures, training, and qualifications. Some are available 24/7, others only during business hours.
Since home care providers vary from one agency to another, you need to ask these 10 important questions before hiring.
1. What Is the Company’s Background?
When a company has a proven track record of successfully providing excellent service for many years, you can trust that they’ll provide you with great service too. Ask how long they’ve been around for and how many patients they’ve served.
Do your research on the company online to get a sense of their reputation and standing in the care-providing industry. You can do this by reading reviews on Google.
Plus, the longer a company has been in business for, the more stable and reliable they will be.
New businesses start up and shut down more often than established ones.
2. What Services Do They Provide?
Depending on what you or your loved one’s needs are, you’ll need different services.
Most agencies will provide the basics: meal preparation, light housekeeping, dressing, and bathing. If you require extra services, like mobility transferring or medication management, you need a caretaker that is properly trained in those areas.
Always ask about the services they provide as well as the cost of those services.
If you require more than the average amount of care, how much extra will that cost? There are ways to reduce your healthcare costs without sacrificing quality care.
3. How Are Your Caretakers Trained?
First, ask if the caretakers they hire are contract workers or employees.
Contract workers might not have the same training or expectation for service as employees of the company will. Always make sure the caretakers working for you are insured and bonded to the agency.
Then, ask how they’re trained. Are they taught about respect and dignity in home care training?
Do they have appropriate soft skills? Do they have any medical degrees or certificates?
Find out what kind of questions their employees were asked in their interviews and what criteria they were hired upon.
4. How Do You Ensure Your Employees Are Doing a Good Job?
Caretakers are given a lot of responsibility and expectations to provide care respectfully and properly. How does the agency ensure their employees are doing a good job?
Most companies will regularly check in with patients over the phone or in person to see if they’re satisfied with the care. Some will also do surprise drop-ins during a caretaker’s shift to see how things are going.
Both are good examples of a company caring about their service.
5. Do You Work with Doctors?
Some patients are living with conditions that require special instructions from their doctor. For example, dietary restrictions, medication, or specific exercises.
It’s important for your care provider to work with your doctor and help you follow their directions.
That may mean going the extra mile and meeting with your doctor to better understand the special care you’ll need. It’s a good sign if a company is willing to do this.
6. What Happens If Your Caretaker is Sick?
Everyone deserves sick days and vacation time away from work. But what does that mean for people who depend on caretakers for daily tasks?
You should ask the company what their procedure is for workers who call in sick.
Bigger agencies with more employees usually have an easier time temporarily filling your caretaker’s spot when they’re gone. Smaller companies may have more trouble and that’s why this is an important question to ask.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for more info when it comes to your care and the company’s procedures.
7. Do You Offer 24/7 Assistance?
Even if you only need care during the daytime, what happens if you have an urgent need in the middle of the night? Sometimes you need help, but it isn’t an emergency.
Some agencies have 24/7 phone lines you can contact a representative with. They might find an on-call worker to come to you, talk you through whatever the issue is, or recommend you call 911.
8. Will You Do a Home Visit Before Assigning a Caretaker?
It’s important for the agency to fully understand your needs and the responsibilities their caretaker will take on. Part of doing so is coming to your home beforehand to get a better sense of the situation.
Meeting the caretaker beforehand is also helpful because you can get to know each other and suss out if you’ll be a good match.
9. Can I See Some References?
Most agencies will have testimonials and reviews on their website, but being able to speak in person to someone who has received their services can help you make a good decision.
The agency might have references from doctors, social workers, or past clients that you can speak to. Don’t be afraid to ask if there were any flaws in their service, as well as what they excelled at.
10. Do You Offer a “Patient’s Bill of Rights”?
This bill is essentially a contract that outlines that the caretaker is responsible for and what the patient is expected to do themselves, as well as the rights of the patient.
It’s a way to get every expectation out on paper so that there’s no confusion or unmet needs.
Even if the agency doesn’t provide one, you can create one yourself and make sure your caretaker reads and signs it.
Want to Learn More About Home Care Providers?
Ensuring you or your loved one gets the best home care possible is important to your health and well-being. Always research the home care providers you’re interested in and ask lots of questions.
The 10 questions listed above are excellent starting points for learning about the key factors that affect your care.
To learn more about health, aging, wellness, and services, check out our blog.