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Questions to Ask When Choosing an In-Home Care Provider

Published: Feb 8, 2010

Giving up some of the caregiving responsibility for a loved one to someone else can be difficult. After all, how are you going to find a caregiver who provides the same degree of quality attention that you provide?

We’ve assembled a list of important questions you should ask prospective professional caregiving companies before you entrust the care of your loved ones to them:

How long has your company been in business?
If an in-home care provider has been around awhile, you should have no trouble researching their reputation through the Better Business Bureau, local senior service and healthcare providers, at church, around town, and from friends and family. Well-established providers generally have higher staff retention rates than fledgling organizations and thus offer more experienced, trained caregivers.

Can you send me information about your services and fees?
This will do more than help you compare services and fees. The quality of the informational materials you receive may indicate the attention an in-home care provider gives to all aspects of its operations. Also ask for references.

How do you select your in-home caregivers?
Look for agencies that balance experience and training with a person’s innate gift to serve and care for others. No amount of experience makes up for a lack of true compassion.

It is also essential that an agency thoroughly screen and interview candidates. This should include criminal and other background checks, personality assessments (which can identify people who possess caregiving qualities), interviews and reference checks.

Also look for organizations that provide training to candidates who pass the screening process and require that caregivers, once hired, complete ongoing training to maintain and update skills.

Are your caregivers bonded and insured?
Make sure the agency you choose has coverage to protect your loved one and your family. The provider should carry professional and general liability insurance, bond its employees and cover employees with workers’ compensation.
How are caregivers supervised?
Some agencies, such as Comfort Keepers®, make regular quality assurance calls and visits to make certain caregivers consistently deliver quality care. To further ensure quality care, see that all caregivers are regularly and closely supervised by a qualified company representative.

Will you provide an home assessment prior to starting services?
Through a thorough in-home assessment with you and your loved one, a representative of an in-home care provider can discover needs and help you determine whether the organization can meet them to your satisfaction.

Will you provide a written care plan before you begin service?
A written care plan prevents misunderstandings. You can use it for reference when calling the in-home care provider with concerns. To be effective, the plan needs to be developed with your input and needs to be flexible so it can be updated as your loved one’s needs change.

What if I am not satisfied with the caregiver assigned to me or a loved one?
Reputable in-home care providers will assign a new caregiver when a match does not work out.

What procedures are in place for emergencies?
Ask how the agency or caregiver will deliver services in the event of a power failure, snow storm or natural disaster. Does the organization provide 24-hour telephone service for handling emergencies during weekends and holidays?

What is the process for addressing problems?
Confirm up front whom to contact—and how—when you experience problems or have questions or requests.


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