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How to Evaluate In-Home Care Agencies
The sheer number of in-home care options available makes choosing the best option for your senior loved one a challenging task. You must evaluate potential in-home care agencies by specific criteria in order to ensure that your loved one remains safe, healthy, and happy in her home.
Evaluation standards cover everything from government regulations to your loved one’s specific needs. Some criteria to consider include the following:
- Licensing and regulation: Not all states require mandatory licenses for home care agencies or provide routine checkups to help regulate efficiency, safety, and service. Using a licensed, regulated agency, no matter what state you live in is very important. Those without a license may be violating the law and might not provide adequate service.
- Hourly versus live-in caregivers: Depending on the health of your loved one, you must decide how much in-home care (s)he requires. If (s)he is relatively healthy and needs minimal assistance, an hourly caregiver would be appropriate. Hourly caregivers work no less than two hours and no more than 12 hours per shift. If your loved one requires continuous care, (s)he will have multiple caregivers to cover shifts or even a live-in caregiver. Live-in caregivers sleep at the client's home, so they can be there to help if an emergency occurs late at night when a part-time caregiver normally clocks out.
Make sure to engage in conversations with potential agencies and ask plenty of questions. Some sample questions provided by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) include the following:
- How will the agency determine my loved one’s needs? In most cases, someone from the agency will meet with you and your loved one to conduct an initial assessment of the senior’s needs. What is important to know is how they make decisions regarding the appropriate level of care for your loved one.
- What is the education and experience of the caregivers? Knowing if the caregivers will be able to provide expert care for your loved one is important. Ask about continued training and education for the caregivers as well, so you can be assured of the expertise and knowledge of the agency’s employees.
- What services are provided? For example, some caregivers who help with bathing and dressing are not able to cook meals or administer medications. If your loved one has Alzheimer's disease, ask if the agency has specific services for Alzheimer's care. Are there any special or support services provided?
- How does the agency supervise the caregiver? The caregiver-agency relationship is very important for successful care. How will the agency and caregiver communicate with each other? How often do caregivers check in with the agency?
Visit PBS.org for additional questions.
Choosing between in-home care agencies is a tough task, but these tips can make the process much easier.
Public Broadcasting System. (2008). Caring for Your Parents: Caregiver Resources. Caregiver’s Handbook: Home Care. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/caringforyourparents/caregiver/homecare/choosingan.html.