10 Questions to Ask Prior to Hiring a Home Care Agency

Research, compare, and scrutinize your home care options.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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Not all home care agencies are the same and it is practical to ask the right questions in order to make the best decision. The answers to the following questions should be YES!

1. Does the agency perform pre-employment background screening on all employees including criminal, department of motor vehicle, and reference checks?

Background checks are vital when hiring in-home caregivers due to easy access to your valuables and more importantly your safety and well-being.

2. Does the agency carry liability insurance and are their caregivers bonded?

Liability insurance is important to protect you from possible injuries to caregivers in your home. When caregivers are bonded compensation is provided for loss of valuables In the event of theft occurring in your home.

3. Is the agency licensed in the state where services are to be rendered?

Some states still do not require licensure but for the majority who are licensed, the agency should be able to provide evidence upon request. Inquire if there other credentials although not required that the agency can offer such as JCHAO certification or local recognitions and awards for excellence.

4. Does the agency verify that all caregivers are certified or licensed in the state where they practice?

Verification for CNAs and nurses (not homemakers and companions) should be done upon hire and annually thereafter. It is also sensible to ask and expect that caregivers receive regular ongoing educational in-services and training classes.

5. Does the agency maintain employee payroll and taxes?

It is important that the agency manage payroll withholdings and actually pay caregiver wages to relieve you of this unrealistic burden. Some agencies although few, expect you to assume this employer role but strongly advise against taking on this responsibility.

6. Does the agency have caregivers readily available to meet your specific care?

For example, a certified nurse assistant to provide personal care, a companion to prepare meals, a caregiver able to drive to doctor appointments, or one who speaks a particular language. It makes sense to learn whether appropriate staff is available from the start.

7. Does the agency have caregivers that meet your schedule at required or preferable times each day?

Find out if caregivers are available at night or on weekends and even to live-in in case this care is needed later.

8. Does the agency accommodate your schedule for setting up an initial assessment visit and is it free?
It is practical to expect a nurse or other health professional to arrange a convenient time for you and your family at no cost to discuss needs and outline a written plan of care agreed upon by both parties.

9. Does the agency supervise their employees on a regular basis at least every 2 months and as needed when changes in health occur?

It is reasonable to expect that the plan of care be updated during in-home visits by a qualified professional to reflect changes in needs.

10. Does the agency have a system for reporting concerns and problems with caregivers or otherwise that is respectful and confidential?

It is realistic to expect an emergency after hours contact to be available in event of urgent matters.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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