How to Choose the Right Home Care Agency

2 years ago
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A Guide to Help you Choose your Home Care Company

Finding a home care company for yourself or a loved one can seem like a daunting process, but finding a company with carers that offer the highest standard of care and align with your values as well as stay within your budget doesn’t have to be complicated,  here’s some advice to help you through the process.

Begin your search by identifying your home care needs and determining the level of care that’s required. To do this, it is important to understand the two basic levels of care –  home health care and non-medical home care.

There are many similarities between home health agencies and homemaker/companion service providers (many organisations provide both types of care), but this guide focuses on the process of hiring non-medical home care services that are paid for privately. Once you have a general idea of what services you and your loved one would benefit from, you can begin contacting providers in your area to conduct interviews, get a feel for the staff, and gather information to help you make an informed decision.

Request Cost Information

The first question most families ask when contacting a provider is, “How much do you charge?” There is a great deal of information that must be exchanged during an initial phone call or consultation to get to this answer. Since home care services are personalised for each client with the creation of a care plan, an accurate quote might not be able to be given immediately without an interview, a review of the home, and the services needed. Sometimes social workers and GPs will also need to be involved. Companies should however be able to provide a range of hourly rates for reference and begin a conversation to learn more about the care recipient and their unique care needs.

Neither the company nor the client wants any surprises when it comes to determining rates. It’s best to leave your cost estimate for the very end of your fact-finding phone call or wait to get a more accurate rate during a face-to-face consultation. Instead, ask about general policies regarding payment and billing.

  • Enquire as to hourly rates and how those rates vary depending on services needed and caregiver qualifications/training.
  • Find out how frequently the company bills.
  • Determine methods of payment to ensure this meets your needs.

Ask About Care Visit Timings and minimum time requirements

Many care companies set a minimum time requirement for home visits—usually from 15 minutes for a quick check-in to several hours for greater care needs. Find out what the minimum time and payment will be. Be sure to address the following points to establish a realistic care schedule (and associated cost estimate):

  • Work with the provider to evaluate how many hours of care you need.
  • Enquire about what their minimum time for a visit is.
  • Determine the process for adjusting care hours to meet changing needs.
  • Find out if adjusting the number of hours will require a change in the caregiver(s) assigned to you.

Find out More About the Care Company

Generally care companies operate under two models: franchise or independent ownership. Each has pros and cons. It takes direct interaction with staff to get a feel for the core values of the company and determine if they align with yours and are ‘lived’ at every touchpoint. Your final decision relies heavily on the contact you have with a company’s employees and your overall impression of how the business operates.

  • Determine who owns the company and how long the current owner has been in place.
  • Look for consistency in answers to your procedural questions between people throughout the company.
  • Ask what certifications and/or accreditations the company and its caregivers hold and who provided them.
  • Check their CQC rating and reviews online

Request Information on Care Support Workers Hiring and Training Procedures

Home care agencies should establish education and credential requirements for their professional caregivers and conduct background checks as part of the hiring process.

  • Determine what in-house training is provided to the different levels of caregivers within the company and how their proficiency is assessed.
  • Ask who provides the training.
  • Ask the provider what they require on an ongoing basis as the mandatory minimum to keep their employees’ skills sharp.
  • Ask the company how they vet their employees and how regularly checks are done.

Ask About Care Management Procedures

Learn the details of the process the home care company uses to get acquainted with a new client, assign caregivers, begin services, and manage their ongoing care.

Be prepared to answer leading questions about the client’s health conditions and daily challenges and needs. This will allow the care company to determine which services would be a good fit and how often they will be needed to improve and maintain the recipient’s quality of life. It is crucial for you to provide as much information as possible and refrain from holding back any details.

  • Ask if the agency creates about how they create their care plans, how frequently they are reviewed and updated, and if they conduct regular quality assurance checks.
  • Ask how the provider handles changes in health and the level of care needed.

Ask How a Care Support Worker is Chosen

During your meeting with the care company, it is important to communicate your needs and who you are comfortable with having in your home. Caregiver preferences can be difficult to discuss, but they are an important part of making sure your home care experience is a successful one.

For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, a home care company should narrow down your selection to caregivers who are experienced and trained in dementia care. Furthermore, some clients are more comfortable with caregivers of a specific gender or ethnicity or require someone who speaks a language other than English.

It is important to keep in mind that the first few home care visits function as a kind of “warming up” period. However, if there is a major personality clash or some discomfort remains after a couple of shifts, the company should be happy to assign a different companion or aide who is a better fit.

Find out How they will Communicate with You

Initiating a clear communication plan with the company is an important part of monitoring a loved one’s care. Typically, the individual paying for home care services can dictate who can receive updates and who is off limits.

  • Ask about policies for communicating with you and other interested parties.
  • Ensure the company can communicate with you through the medium you prefer, whether that’s online, by phone call, or face-to-face.

Review Caregiver Policies and Procedures

Every company should have policies in place stating that complaints, caregiver changes, schedule changes, and other issues are to be handled internally. Specific procedures regarding provider issues and staff contact information should be outlined in the service agreement.

  • Ask how to file a complaint and what the procedure is for investigation and resolution.
  • In the event of an unexpected absence (no-show), question how a temporary caregiver is assigned.
  • Verify the process for making a schedule change.
  • Ask how to formally request a new caregiver.
  • Ask how far in advance you need to request a schedule change or cancel a visit. Are there any fees associated with these changes if advance notice is not given?

There are indeed a lot of questions to ask and things to consider, but home care agencies will do their best to make you feel comfortable throughout the process. By working through this guide, you should have all the information you need to make an informed decision and find the right fit for the care for yourself or your loved one.


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