home health care provider

How to Find the Right Home Health Care Provider for You: A Guide

The move to using a home health care provider is a big one. Seniors may be reluctant to open their doors to people they’ve never met before; however, families with an aging loved one may not be in a position to provide all the assistance needed themselves.

A home care agency is the perfect solution to finding reliable elder care for seniors who want to stay in their homes and continue to live happy, healthy, engaged lives.

Where to start? It’s a great idea for families to take the time to educate them up front. There may be services and options available that you didn’t know and things to consider that you never stopped to think about.

Below are some questions you can ask to maximize the chances of finding the perfect fit in a home care agency.

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What are your needs?

Many family members ask the question, “What do I need to consider when hiring a home care agency for my elderly mom or dad?” The first thing a family needs to look at is both what their seniors’ needs are today, and what they might be in the future:

  • How much hands-on care do you need? Care can be as simple as some a part-time companionship, light chores, laundry, and meal prep. Others may need someone available 24 hours a day because of mobility issues or other more serious health conditions.
  • Will you need concierge services? Someone to arrange appointments with healthcare providers and transportation to and from their offices — or to social commitments and activities.
  • Will your parent need visits from a nurse? Clients who’ve recently had surgery may require dressing changes. Others may need to receive fluids/medications intravenously, ostomy care, or palliative care.
  • Is your parent showing signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia? Unfortunately, these conditions are degenerative; caregivers should be educated and trained to meet your parents’ specific needs.

Home health care provider

About the Home Care Agency

Once you’ve zeroed in on what you’ll need from a home health care provider, it’s important to do a little ‘due diligence’ on the agency:

  • Is the Agency licensed, bonded, and insured to operate in your state?
  • Have the caregivers undergone a reference check, criminal background check, and been assessed by a Registered Nurse?
  • What’s the home care agency’s reputation? Do they have a positive track record with other clients/families in the area?
  • How long has the agency been in operation? Who are the owners?
  • How is their customer service?
  • Do they offer a free consultation to determine the best care options for your parent?
  • Can they help you with care billing through insurance, public programs, and any out of pocket costs? Can they give you a breakdown of these costs in writing?
  • What’s their system for responding to and resolving client problems or complaints?

What about the caregiver themselves?

  • How often does care staff communicate with you and how do they do it? (telephone calls, written reports, etc).
  • Do you get the same person every time or are they regularly swapped?
  • What’s the procedure if someone doesn’t show up?
  • What if you ask for a different caregiver because you are unhappy with the person the agency sent?
  • Are they getting ongoing training?

Home health care agencies understand 100% the need for these types of questions and they expect them. The agency will be happy to give you all the information you need to make the right choice for your family.

How to Find the Right Person: Tips for Choosing the Best In-Home Caregivers

Once you have determined which home care agency you are most comfortable with, it’s time to focus on the individual caregivers who will be spending a significant amount of time with your loved one. [i]

When it comes to hiring caregivers for seniors, it’s important to get to know their personalities so you can rest assured that the elderly person in your life is comfortable with the arrangement.

So how do you choose the right care provider for your loved one? Ask the home care agency to allow you and your loved one to meet potential caregivers ahead of time to determine who will be the best fit.

This will help ease your loved one into what can be a daunting transition from family caregivers to hired caregivers who are often considered strangers.

Here are some things to consider before interviewing potential elder care providers:

  • Determine ahead of time if your loved one prefers a male or female caregiver.
  • Consider choosing a caregiver with a similar cultural language/background to encourage bonding.
  • Establish a clear description of things your loved one will need assistance with, and ensure the caregiver understands what is expected and is comfortable performing the duties.
  • Consider the potential caregiver’s personality. Are they very talkative or more reserved? If your loved one enjoys conversing, you might opt for the chatty caregiver (or vice versa).
  • Take note of the caregivers’ interests. It is helpful to choose one who’s interests are closely aligned with the client’s interests (e.g. both enjoy music, watching TV, reading, taking walks, etc.).
  • Important Caregiver Interview Questions

    Here are some examples of questions you might ask potential caregivers before deciding on one:

    • Why are you interested in this specific position?
    • What personality traits do you possess that make you a good fit for this position?
    • What are your interests and hobbies?
    • What caregiver duties have you performed in the past? Are you comfortable with the duties that go along with this position? (List duties out in detail.)
    • What do you enjoy most about caregiving? What is the most challenging aspect?
    • What is your favorite type of client?
    • Are you comfortable lifting or transferring a client in/out of a bed, chair, or wheelchair?
    • What is your experience with individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia (if applicable to your situation)? How would you handle the following scenarios? (List scenarios they would likely encounter with your loved one)
    • Are you comfortable preparing healthy meals and snacks?
    • How would you handle aggressive or fearful behaviors?
    • Do you have reliable transportation and auto insurance? Would you be willing to transport the client to doctor’s visits or to run errands?
    • Do you have consistent weekly availability?
    • Can you provide both work-related and personal references?

    If your loved one is present during these interviews, take note of how the care provider communicates with both of you. Do they speak only to you or to your loved one as well? Are they respectful? Does your loved one seem to have more of a connection with a certain interviewee?

    Jot down your thoughts and take some time after the interviews to discuss the pros and cons of each potential care provider with your elderly loved one. Follow up on the references for qualified applicants for additional peace of mind.