10 things to know before you select a home care agency

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10 things to know before you select a home care agency

As an increasing number of seniors choose to remain in their home rather than move into a facility, the demand for in-home care continues to rise.  When choosing a care provider it’s important to do your due diligence.  Below are some topics to know more about that a home care agency may not share with you unless you ask about them. 

  1. State regulations and laws will determine what kind of services can be performed at home and which must be carried out in a health care facility. For example some home care agencies are non medical and cannot treat someone with a severe medical condition that requires 24-hour a day nursing care.   The home care agency should be able to tell you if they are able to manage your care needs safely.
  2. Not all home care agencies do the same work.  Some may work primarily with Medicare recipients who have a doctor’s order because of an identified skilled need from illness or injury.  Some may offer personal care assistance with hands on care for help with daily living activities as well as homemaking services.  And others may not provide hands on care and instead offer companion or homemaking services. 
  3.  Many home care agencies require a minimum number of hours per shift or per week.  For example, some agencies may request 4 hours a day 3 days a week and you may be looking for less than that. You should not  feel like you have to take on more hours to accommodate an agency’s needs. 
  4.  Agencies have limitations on medication management.  Some states may allow a specially trained home health aide or certified nursing assistant to help with medication administration.  Other states require that medications be administered by a nurse.
  5.  Some agencies charge additional fees.  Ask if there are mileage or cancellations fees and whether you will be charged for future re-assessment visits from the nurse. 
  6.  If you are unsatisfied with an assigned caregiver you have the right to request someone else.  You are not obligated to continue working with the current aide. 
  7. The home care agency may only be doing a standard state police background check.   Ask if a thorough criminal background check was done and if the agency tests the aides for drugs and alcohol.
  8. The Home care agency may not be covered under liability insurance.  Ask to see their insurance binder, does it include professional and general liability, non-owned auto, a dishonesty bond, and worker’s compensation policies? 
  9. The home care agency may have hired someone who has had disciplinary action taken against them.  Ask if they have checked professional and governmental registries as well as prior employers. 
  10.  Many home care agencies offer negotiated rates because not all clients have the same ability to pay.  Ask for written statements to explain all of the costs and payment option plans. 

These are just a few suggested tips to keep in mind the next time you are considering a home care agency for you or your loved one.   A competent home care agency should have nothing to hide and should be able to answer all of your questions.  The most important thing is that you and your loved one feel comfortable with your decision

About the Author

Maria Thomas
Care Advocate, Genworth

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