Jean, who is 86-years-old, has Alzheimer’s disease. Little by little, her ability to take care of herself and her home has diminished. Her children promised her that she would be able to stay in her own home, but as her condition worsened, the challenges mounted. In order for her to be safe, Jean needed someone nearby at all times. It was an impossible situation for her family, so on the advice of her doctor, they looked into home care agencies. The list of local agencies was fairly long, and they had no idea about any of them. They narrowed it down by asking for recommendations from people they knew and trusted. Then family members made a list of what they considered the most important criteria, and put each agency they were considering to the test.
Questions to ask when choosing a home care agency
- Does the agency provide the services you need?
- Who owns the company? Is the owner involved in the day-to-day operation of the business? If a franchise or part of a national company, what is the parent company’s reputation?
- Does the agency do a thorough background check on its caregivers? What is the process?
- What experience and training do caregivers have? Do caregivers receive specialized memory-care training?
- How does the agency assess the level of care the client will need? Who does the assessment?
- How are caregivers matched with clients? How are caregivers supervised?
- Does the agency provide ongoing communications with the family regarding scheduling and care updates?
- How is the quality of service monitored? Does the agency conduct client satisfaction surveys?
- Is round-the-clock care available? What is the minimum number of hours that services can be provided? Is someone available by phone 24/7?
- How accessible is agency management if problems arise?
- Will the agency provide a list of professional references?
Jean’s family spoke to a representative from each agency by phone and narrowed the search to three. At that point, they contacted each professional reference provided by those agencies. A professional reference is a health care provider or social worker that refers clients or patients to the agency.
Questions to ask references
- How often do you refer to the agency?
- Do you have a contractual relationship with the agency? If so, do you require the agency to meet quality care standards?
- What kind of feedback have you received from people you have referred?
- Will you put me in touch with any people you have referred who received services?
- Would you hire this agency to care for one of your elderly parents?
Choosing a home care agency was a lot of work for Jean’s family, but definitely worth the effort. They found one that goes out of its way to provide her with safe and loving care. Jean is happy and her children have peace of mind. An added bonus is that because they’re no longer feeling so overwhelmed, they find more opportunities to simply be Jean’s children instead of her caregivers.
An important issue that we didn’t touch upon is how to pay for home care. We’ll get some expert financial advice in our next post. Please leave us a comment if you have some specific questions you’d like answered.