If you are considering in-home care for your loved ones, it can be a process full of research, questions and in some cases, stress. From understanding your risks in selecting a caregiver, to determining the care type that is needed, to figuring out if you should hire directly or use an agency, the process requires many decisions.
If you are asking yourself, “How will I manage all of this?,” you’ve come to the right place. This article will help you to navigate the do’s and dont’s of beginning your home care journey.
Before you get started, you will need to set expectations to determine what the care provider you hire will be responsible for handling. This can cover anything from personal care to medical assistance, chores to simple companionship, or a mixture of all of these tasks. Once you know that, you’ll be ready to start your search for the perfect caregiver.
Hiring a Caregiver on Your Own
You can successfully hire a caregiver on your own, but it does require a bit of up front work. That is because completing the process without the help of an agency will mean that you do all of the steps in the process without much guidance.
You can consider hiring directly if you are able to accomplish the following tasks without support:
- Complete a thorough background check that includes reviewing criminal history, the sex offender registry, substance abuse issues and more;
- Manage payroll, taxes and social security;
- Provide sufficient insurance to cover workers’ compensation and bonding;
- Feel comfortable conducting a full assessment of your loved one’s needs;
- Effectively develop a plan of care;
- Provide training in the type of care your loved one requires; and
- Train and schedule backup caregivers for no-show situations.
Benefits of Working with a Care Agency
If you are unable to handle one or more of the important tasks necessary of hiring a caregiver on your own, a care agency is likely the best place to start. There are numerous benefits of working with a dedicated agency. They will be able to provide you with trained caregivers who are often specialized in complex medical conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. They also are trained in emergency situations.
Agencies can also help handle attendance issues and vacation requests to ensure you always have the care coverage you need. Some care agencies also help with providing long-term care insurance, assist with claims and billing, and support assignment of benefit needs. These tasks can take a lot of responsibility off of families to allow them to focus more on selecting the best caregiver for their elderly family member.
What to Consider When Hiring a Care Agency
If you decide to work with a care agency, there are a number of good agencies who provide excellent service. These agencies are knowledgeable, reliable, responsible, accessible and, most importantly, safe. You’ll want to make sure you work with an agency that supports your loved one’s right to live with dignity. You also want to make sure they do not take over every aspect of your loved one’s life, but instead are committed to the areas of care that are most important to you.
When starting your search, be sure to ask for references and referrals from those you trust most. This can include doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors and geriatric care managers. It can also mean people from your community, like connections from church, support groups or your circle of friends. Ask them specific questions about the care and support they have received to determine if the care agency they are suggesting is a good fit for you.
Keep an eye out for these best practices when evaluating care agencies:
- They have a comprehensive hiring program;
- Caregivers are insured and bonded, and are W2 employees or 1099 contractors;
- The agency provides comprehensive client assessments and plans of care;
- Caregivers are well trained and there is a client matching program in place;
- There is management involvement in the process;
- There are support programs in place for families; and
- You will receive good value for the money you invest.
Important Details to Consider when Working with a Care Agency
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential care agencies, a good next step is to begin an interview process. The following are some questions you can ask to get a feel for the agency:
- What are the general agency details and how long have they been operating?
- What is the hiring practice for employees?
- What type of employees are hired (W2, 1099, etc.)?
- What are the support services offered? Is support offered 24/7?
- What types of contracts are offered? Are there cancellation or service charges?
- What are the prices? Are there payment plans?
Getting Started with Your Care Provider
So, you’ve selected an agency – great! The next steps are dedicated to setting up your care plan and getting to know the staff who will support your family. A nurse should start by providing a thorough assessment of your situation. This assessment will review current and past medical conditions, anticipated activities of daily living and any necessary medications that will need to be administered. The nurse will also complete a fall risk assessment to ensure the home is safe.
Once the plan of care is finalized, caregiver matching will be done. You can expect your caregiver to take proactive steps to ensure the health, comfort, and safety of your loved one. The care provided can cover a number of support services including light housekeeping, laundry, errands, doctor visits and transportation to other appointments.
Know Your Risks
Many care agencies have excellent records and will take wonderful care of your loved one, but there are still risks to consider. You will want to be on the lookout for cases of elder abuse and improper care. Unfortunately, there have been cases of federal and state tax fraud, and loss of personal items and property.
The home care industry also has high levels of injury claims, but you can cut down on some of these risks by working closely with your insurance before care begins in your home. If you do not currently have insurance to cover injuries on your property, now is a good time to look into that as an option.