Choosing Your In-Home Care Provider
Enlisting help and support from a licensed in-home care provider is a life-changing experience because it increases the quality of life for the client and their spouse or family caregivers. However, the key to that “life-changing experience” is to hire the right agency for the job.
Below we discuss the things you should think about when choosing senior home care.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing Senior Home Care
Here are 7 important things to consider as you make your final decision on who to trust with one of the most important jobs out there – taking care of your senior loved one.
1. They’re a legitimate caregiving agency (licensed, insured, bonded)
If you’ve ever looked in local ads or online forums, you know you can find freelance or independent caregivers at unbelievably affordable prices. But don’t be fooled. The reality is that even the most well-meaning and experienced freelance candidates can’t begin to compare with caregivers at a legitimate, licensed in-home care provider.
Legitimate caregiving agencies:
- Are licensed in their state (click here to verify caregiver licensing in New Jersey, and click here to verify licensure in Florida)
- Pay their employees well
- Provide benefits, including paid sick days, holidays, and healthcare
- Assign a small team of caregivers to emphasize familiarity and connection while also providing immediate fill-ins if the scheduled caregiver is ill, has an ill family member, or needs to take well-deserved time off
- Emphasize and provide continuing education and training to employees around various topics relevant to senior care, memory care, self-care, ergonomics, workplace rights, etc.
Also, our employees have passed complete criminal background checks and maintain impeccable DMV records, which are verified regularly.
These assurances do not exist with a private caregiver. Our clients’ horror stories about previous attempts at hiring private caregivers constantly reinforce how essential it is to vet the qualifications and legitimacy of any caregiver entering your home.
2. They offer free, no-obligation assessments
Reputable caregiving agencies always offer free, no-obligation assessments. Typically taking place in the client’s home, state health and safety guidelines may mandate video-only options at times. Regardless, these consultations are invaluable.
During the consultation, the agency’s case manager asks detailed questions about the client, their diagnosis/prognosis (if applicable), their personal needs and interests, long-term goals, etc. This is also your opportunity to ask questions. Treat these consultations like an interview.
We recommend using AARP’s Checklist for Choosing an Agency for Homecare. Print one per prospective agency, and make sure to write down your own questions at the end. Only by comparing “apples-to-apples” will you be able to make the most informed decision.
3. They provide a written care plan
In-home senior care providers should give you a clear, written care plan that addresses the current needs of the client and family, as well as a projected long-term plan. Care plans benchmarks are signed by the client/family and amended along the way to address whatever arises.
4. You benefit from a small team of caregivers
We understand that most clients like the idea of having a single, designated caregiver. If you are using our agency for respite care (more on that below) or on a part-time basis, this may be partially possible. However, we assign a case manager and a small team of caregivers (three to five, depending on whether it’s a part-time, full-time, or live-in contract) per client.
We’re suspicious of agencies claiming to assign the same caregiver for every shift. Unfortunately, that means caregivers are over-worked, or the client/family inevitably suffers from caregivers who are tardy, call in sick without notice, or are shift no-shows – all of which are stressful and can be dangerous for the client.
Our clients get to know each member of their team, and we are happy to prioritize a single caregiver whenever possible. But, having an assigned team is the only way to guarantee caregivers are on-hand whenever you need them, and so we can honor our employees’ needs for time off.
5. They offer respite care services
Many of our clients start with part-time caregiving services, such as scheduling errand running, grocery shopping, or companion services a few times per week. This is commonly the case for clients with a spouse or family member serving as their primary caregiver.
However, full-time caregiving is a demanding and fatiguing job if primary caregivers can’t get a break. Respite care services are there to pick up the shifts that you need to let go of for various personal reasons.
Choose an agency with the ability to provide respite care, and you’re far less likely to suffer from caregiver fatigue or burnout.
6. They have an R.N. and/or social worker on staff
Home care is not the same as home healthcare. Even so, licensed caregiving agencies should have an R.N. and social worker on staff. Our R.N.s and social workers collaborate with case managers, assess clients as needed, and approve original care plans – as well as changes to existing care plans.
7. Communication is swift, detailed, and accessible
Your case manager should provide a clear communication plan that keeps you and the team of caregivers connected. Clients and their families should expect responses within a 24-hour timeframe and should have instant access to the caregivers’ most recent shift notes.
Never hesitate to ask prospective agencies anything at all. There is truly no such thing as a bad question. We understand this is a stressful time and that your peace of mind depends on having a clear picture of in-home senior care providers and what they offer.
Choosing Senior Home Care: Let Affordable Senior Home Care Help
Get in touch with Affordable Senior Home Care to learn more about our service offerings. Our licensed, family-owned senior homecare agency was founded by people with first-hand experience taking care of aging loved ones at home. We understand exactly what you are going through and are here for you when you need us.