7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing Home Care Services

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Senior woman with her caregiver at home

Did you know that the United States had an estimated 12,200 home health care agencies to choose from in 2016? This number doesn’t even include the new agencies and independent caregivers available now.

With so many home care services to choose from, you must ask the right questions to find a responsible caregiver who will keep your relative safe. At the same time, you need to make sure the service fits your family’s budget and needs for availability.

Before choosing any home care services, ask these seven crucial questions.

1. What References and Reviews Are Available?

When talking to caregivers, you’ll definitely want to ask about references and reviews to make sure other clients feel their loved ones’ needs were met.

If you’re hiring an agency, you can easily find testimonials and reviews on the agency’s website and social media pages along with caregiver review websites. However, keep in mind that some bad reviews may get filtered out and that some satisfied families may never leave a review.

To get the best picture, ask for a few references and try speaking to clients directly. While you’ll want to look for a good reputation on safety, professionalism, and care, also consider any preferences you might have. 

2. Does the Agency Have a License and Insurance?

You need to choose a home care agency that follows the law and meets state and federal requirements. Otherwise, they may not be compliant with all the standards that regulate safety and care.

For example, you might check the Medicaid and Medicare websites to see if the agency has any certification. You’ll want to check with the state to make sure the agency has a license to operate. 

At the same time, consider the individual caregivers the agency hires. You’ll need to ask whether those caregivers have insurance and are properly bonded. Make sure they have any necessary healthcare licenses and certification.

3. How Much Will Home Care Cost?

Your situation for affording your loved one’s care can highly vary. While you or your loved one might pay out of pocket, your loved one may also have medical insurance or long-term care insurance that can help.

Ask the agency what the home care fees look like and which insurance plans they take if applicable. You’ll also want to ask if there are any hidden fees or extra costs involved and how insurance claims get handled. 

If your loved one has a government plan like Medicaid or Medicare, keep in mind that you may need to do more research to find home care services that will accept it.

4. How Do You Keep Loved Ones Safe?

One of the most important criteria for choosing the right home care service lies in how they’ll guarantee your loved one’s safety.

This means making sure the caregivers have a background check and no history of neglect. It also means making sure that the agency does regular screenings of its staff and offers appropriate training on handling emergency situations.

Further, you’ll want to learn about the process the agency follows for handling non-compliance. If they fail to offer timely discipline to caregivers who fail to protect their clients, consider this a sign to keep looking.

5. What Does Your Home Care Service Include?

When looking for services working with the elderly for home care, not all can handle the same personal care and medical needs.

For example, you might find a home care provider that mainly provides companionship, personal care, and only minor medical help. On the other hand, you can find agencies like this service that use registered nurses who can offer comprehensive medical care.

Fully know your loved one’s needs and explain to the prospective home care service everything that they’ll need to do. If they seem unsure, try looking for a full-service option.

6. When Will a Caregiver Be Available?

Even when you find a great home care agency, you might not always be able to get a caregiver to start working right away. Not only may the agency have a waitlist, but you need to consider any approval needed through the insurance company.

You’ll want to ensure the home care service can begin as soon as your loved one needs it and as soon as finances get handled. So, ask when a caregiver will become available and look into other agencies if the wait doesn’t fit your family’s needs.

At the same time, you’ll want to ask about how often a caregiver can come to take care of your relative once services begin. Your loved one may need anything from a few days a week of care to 24/7 care. Ask about any flexibility offered in case your loved one’s care needs change.

7. Can You Handle Any Special Needs?

Whether your loved one prefers a certain type of caregiver or has a rare medical condition requiring special treatment, you must share this with a prospective home health agency. While some are willing to offer a great fit, other services simply don’t have the skills or ability to handle certain requests.

For example, your loved one may have severe dementia and need a caregiver who can handle issues like aggression and severe confusion. At the same time, your loved one may seek a home care professional with a specific attitude or shared interests.

Bringing up any special needs or preferences early can help prevent the need to try out several caregivers. However, you may still ask the agency whether they offer some flexibility in case the need arises.

Start Exploring Home Care Services 

Now that you know what to look for when seeking home care services, begin searching for reputable services in your area and interviewing promising options.

You can start looking into local agencies, searching a registry of caregivers, or asking for personal recommendations. Start with a phone interview to ask the seven questions mentioned and find out if you can have a trial period with the caregiver to make the process less risky.

For more information on home care, our blog has many posts that can help you with the decision. Be sure to go take a look at our other posts.