How to Qualify Home Care Agencies

May 6, 2016

How to Qualify Home Care Agencies

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Once you have determined that home care is appropriate for your needs, the next thing to do is find a home care agency that is both legitimate and has what you want for your loved one. You will need to decide if you want to hire a private caregiver or a home care agency. Start by creating a list of possible options, and then work through the list to find the very best option for your loved one.

Unfortunately, there are people and agencies out there that exploit seniors, especially widowed women, because they see them as an easy target. When looking for a home agency for your loved one, it is necessary to qualify that they are, in fact, a legitimate agency and will have your senior's best interest at heart with no intention of ripping them off.

How to Determine Home Care Agency Legitimacy

There are three criteria that you should check for the legitimacy of the agency before considering them as an option to provide care to your loved one.

Costs

The cost of the services provided by the agency should be appropriate. The average cost for home care is around $20 per hour, so if you find an agency that is promoting their services for $5 an hour, something isn’t right. There is no reason that a nurse or aide would work at that price so that agency should be taken off your list.

References

The agency should have no problem providing you with references upon request including current clients. The references should cover the agency as a whole as well as the particular caregiver that will be helping your loved one.

System

There should be systems in place with the home agency. The agency should have a system for matching a caregiver to the patient so the best experience can be provided all around, as well as a system for monitoring the caregiver including the type of care that they are providing and how long they are working with the patient. The caregiver should also be following the predetermined, and constantly updated, care plan.

Other considerations

While those are three of the biggest criteria to look for that can either qualify or send up red flags about the agency there are of course other things to keep an eye out for. Make sure the agency does not make your sign a contract before needs and specific services are determined, and if they try to, disqualify them from your list of options. Checking to see if they are part of an association, such as the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA), can also help to legitimize the agency. Looking into licensing, certifications, and inspection results can also help qualify the legitimacy of the home care agency.

What Type of Care is Provided?

After you have found some home care agency options for your loved one that seems legitimate, the next step is to determine if they can provide the care that your loved one needs. There are a couple of questions you may want to ask yourself to make sure you choose somewhere with the level of care your senior needs. We've listed some important question to ask below.

Does your loved one need physical therapy?

If so, make sure the agency has physical therapists available that are qualified and able to help with the area of the body needed.

Does your loved one have mobility problems?

If so, ensure that the agency and assigned caregiver is able to help move your loved one. This could mean helping them in or out of bed, off the toilet, or in and out of the car.

Does your loved one have reduced cognitive function due to Alzheimer’s or dementia?

If so, determine if the agency or the assigned caregiver has had the necessary training to working with seniors with lower cognitive function. They must be able to handle confusion and mood swings in a way that you think is appropriate for your loved one.

What sort of training do home care aides receive?

Another important question to ask is about training. Asking about any and all necessary training qualifications will give you peace of mind in case your loved one develops a condition that the home caregiver would need to help with. If the agency can provide them with training associated with the condition, then there is no need to worry about the caregiver not being able to care for certain conditions that may develop in the future.

In the end, you need to find a home agency that is legitimate, able to provide what you or your loved one needs and gives you a sense of comfort. You will be letting someone new take care of your loved one, so it is important to hire an agency and caregiver that is experienced.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between home care and an assisted living facility?

There are several differences between home care and assisted living. Home care means hiring a trained professional to provide care right in your home, while assisted living involves moving to a community to receive similar care. The amount of assistance that home care provides depends on your senior's needs and can be tailored accordingly. Home care can range anywhere from weekly companionship and therapy to 24-hour skilled nursing care or even hospice. In contrast, assisted living provides seniors with an enriching community of their peers and medical attention as needed, making it a flexible option for many. 

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Due to our financial situation, I simply cannot afford to put my parents in a home, but having them live with me isn’t exactly ideal. Are there any other affordable options?

We realize that senior care communities can be costly, but there are a few things to be considered. Many healthcare providers will help offset the costs of moving to a senior care community. If that’s still not financially possible, look into having a home care aid come to your parents' house a few times a week. These home care aids can be hired through an agency or independently and can provide a variety of services to take care of senior loved ones. Don’t let money get in the way of providing the care your parents deserve.

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