When the time comes to consider a home care agency for a senior loved one, you may feel at a loss for how to tell if an agency is reliable or even safe. The first step is to determine how much help your loved one needs and then find an agency that can provide it. The agency must also be able to manage personal and associate bookkeeping and tax processes. But once you find the right choice, you will only continue to reap the benefits both in quality care for your loved one and peace of mind for you.
Any agency you are researching should always perform exhaustive background checks on their caregivers, including validating all prior work they’ve done and ensuring that their references and current skill sets are up-to-date. Agencies should also arrange all bonding or liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance for their caregivers. Caregiver payroll and taxes should all be handled in house.
However, agencies usually stop short after these necessary requirements are filled. Home Care Assistance goes above base expectations and even processes Long Term Care insurance claims for our clients. Further, other care agencies ensure that their caregivers are qualified upon hiring but may not provide additional training as they continue to work for the agency. This means that while their caregivers are qualified when the begin working for the agency, as new care philosophies are introduced, these agencies’ caregivers may not stay up-to-date with their training.
Unlike most agencies, Home Care Assistance provides continuing education for our employees through our own online training platform, Home Care Assistance University. This guarantees that as we learn new, effective ways to care for your loved one, our caregivers will be able to offer that care. The result: a holistic approach to improving your loved one’s life.
Here are some questions to consider when researching care agencies. These will help you guide your search and hopefully lead you to a reliable care agency that will be the best fit for your loved one.
When an agency hires their caregivers, their background checks should at least outline or seek to reveal the following information about the caregiver. If you are researching an agency’s past, then as these same questions of that agency:
- How proficient is the caregiver, and/or how long has this caregiver been in operation? Or, if it’s the agency, how long as the agency been practicing?
- What qualifications or experience does the caregiver have caring for people with mild cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s? If your loved one is living with a chronic disease, what training does the caregiver have in providing for your loved one’s specific needs? If it’s the agency, what process do they use to ensure that these qualifications are met? How often do they update or examine their caregivers’ training?
- Do testimonials exist on behalf of the caregiver or the agency? What source do they come from?
- Does the caregiver have a criminal background? How is the caregiver’s driving and work history? If it’s the agency, what types of reviews do they have? Do they have any certifications? How carefully do they screen their caregivers for negative traits? Do they have any past complaints or reports of negative treatment of their clients or caregivers?
Agencies should be able to handle financial, insurance, or tax related matters in house, and shouldn’t outsource their caregivers payroll process. You should also consider the expenses and fees that may be associated with the care they provide to your loved one. Ask yourself these questions when researching an agency:
- What services does the agency offer and what, if any, are the associated fees? Are contracts required? Is a minimum fee necessary for service?
- Does the agency deliver written statements itemizing all costs and payment options related to the services? Are they upfront about their fees or are clients blindsided by their bills?
- Does the agency take credit cards? How do their clients usually pay for services? What sorts of payment plans do they offer?
Caregiver Education and Qualification
The most important part of your research when you are looking for an agency is how well their caregivers are trained and qualified to care for your loved one. Ask the following about the agency to ensure that their caregivers remain qualified throughout their employment. If you are researching a caregiver, you can also ensure that they are qualified with these questions:
- Does the agency provide regular education to update caregiver training? If it’s the caregiver, what special training do they currently have? When was this obtained or updated? How long have they been providing care for clients requiring similar care as your loved one?
- Does the agency provide training and/or continuing education for its caregivers and employees? If it’s the caregiver, how often do they update their training?
- Does the agency provide training for caregivers to take care of people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, or other advanced needs? If not, how do the ensure that their caregivers are qualified to provide this care? If it’s the caregiver, are they trained to care for people with these advanced needs? How long have they been caring for these types of clients, and how often do they update their training?
- Does the agency perform unannounced visits periodically to evaluate the client’s quality of care and to re-evaluate home care needs? If it’s the caregiver, are they comfortable with surprise visits by the agency or yourself to monitor performance?
Along with making sure an agency will accept your insurance, that agency must also be insured themselves. When researching an agency, ask these questions to guarantee that they have completed the necessary requirements to be insured as a care providing agency:
- Is the caregiver insured and bonded?
- Does the agency provide employees with liability insurance to protect the client against risk of injury or loss of property?
- Does the agency have the capability to process claims for Long Term Care insurance?
If you’ve reached the end of these questions, you may feel overwhelmed. How do you find an agency that answers all these satisfactorily?
Home Care Assistance is a trusted agency that believes these questions are just the first steps to proving our qualifications in caring for your loved one. Home Care Assistance hires only the most qualified and compassionate individuals as caregivers, accepting on average only 1 out of every 25 applicants. We take additional steps in vetting our caregivers in order to protect our clients. These steps include thorough screening and background checks, reference follow-up, and work experience validation.
We also issue a proprietary Caregiver Personality Screening test to assess each applicant’s character traits deemed necessary to provide quality care. This test ensures that our caregivers possess the kindness, honesty, and conscientiousness need to care for your loved one. Home Care Assistance also exercises in-person interviewing practices to confirm our caregivers’ reliability and character.
We do all this to ensure your loved one is matched with a caregiver who provides safe, reliable care and excels in displaying a compassionate and temperate disposition. Our goal is to provide all our clients with care that will improve their life and afford their families comfort and peace of mind. With Home Care Assistance, your loved one will always be in safe, caring, and reliable hands.