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April 3, 2014

Questions to Ask When Choosing an In-Home Care Provider

When they consider their other responsibilities at work and home, family caregivers often come to the realization they need help caring for a senior loved one. However, giving up part of the responsibility to someone else can be difficult. How are you going to find a caregiver who provides the same degree of quality caregiving and devotion that you provide your loved one?

To help you accomplish this, we assembled a list of important questions to ask as you interview prospective professional caregiving companies:

How long has your company been in business?

If an in-home care provider has been around a while, you should have no trouble researching its reputation via the Better Business Bureau, local senior service and health care providers, churches and charitable organizations, and 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 screens and interviews 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 make regular quality assurance calls and visits to make certain caregivers consistently deliver quality care. To further ensure quality care, make sure that a qualified company representative regularly and closely supervises all caregivers.

Will you provide an in-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 a loved one or me?

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, snowstorm 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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