How to Choose a Home Care Agency

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Home care can help families or individuals fill a gap in care and also provide respite for family caregivers. While services vary by home care agency, in-home caregivers often assist with activities of daily living (ADLs)  and other supportive services including the following:

  • Companionship
  • Cooking or meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Mobility assistance
  • Pet care
  • Transportation

Home care costs

Home care is typically charged by the hour and the national median is $30 per hour according to A Place for Mom’s proprietary data.[01]

Home care costs can vary by location and by the level of care your loved one requires. Other factors that affect cost include when a caregiver works. Weekend and night shifts may drive hourly rates up. Some home care agencies also adjust rates based on the frequency and length of a shift. For example, if your loved one is relatively independent and only needs a caregiver for a few hours per week, the hourly rate may be higher. For seniors who require help with daily activities and such as bathing, dressing, or preparing meals, longer and more frequent visits agencies may offer lower rates.

Home care needs differ from one family to another so understanding your family’s specific needs will help you choose the right home care agency. To help you prepare for finding home care agencies that can offer the care and flexibility your family needs, consider the following steps:

H3: 1. Determine the needs of your loved one and your family

Before exploring home care agencies, it’s important to know what you need. To help determine the type of care your loved one needs and the frequency, consider the following questions:

  • Does your loved one need assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing or dressing?
  • Do you worry about your loved one being alone?
  • Is your loved one independent but living alone and would benefit from companionship?
  • Does your loved one require mobility assistance or transportation?
  • Is your loved one living with dementia and require supervision and reminders?
  • Is your loved one recovering from an illness or injury and in need of medical care?
  • How much time are family caregivers able to support their loved one’s needs?
  • What is your family’s budget for in-home care?

H3: 2. Evaluate home care agencies

It’s helpful to speak with a number of home care agencies to learn more about the services they offer, their company culture, and their caregivers. Home care agencies should be willing to tailor their services to your loved ones care needs. The following tips will help you evaluate home care agencies:

  • Call home care agencies. Calling a home care agency can be very revealing, explains Lori Eberly, a consultant for A Place for Mom and a former owner-operator of a multi-unit home care franchise.

If a home care agency is difficult to reach as a prospective client, you may question how challenging it will be to maintain regular communication with them as a client.

  • Prepare a list of questions. When you meet with a potential home care provider bring questions to help guide your conversation. If possible, include your loved one and encourage them to ask their own questions.

Make sure to ask if the agency will be able to meet your or your family’s specific needs during this meeting. Don’t make assumptions as to what a caregiver will or will not do. Eberly suggests asking the following questions:

  1. How many employees do you have?
  2. How many years have you been in business?
  3. What is the most challenging thing your agency has had to deal with?  How did you resolve the situation and what did you learn?
  4. Are you licensed, insured, and bonded? (Some states require home care agencies are licensed.)
  5. If our regular caregiver is unavailable, how does the agency handle providing a replacement caregiver?
  6. What can I expect from your agency if I need to contact someone after hours?

This is your opportunity to get to know the home care agency so ask the questions you want to know the answers to, even if they are challenging.

H3: 3. Review your conversations and select a home care agency

After meeting with home care agencies, take time to reflect on what you have learned. Discuss the options with your loved one allowing them to share their likes and dislikes. Lori Eberly suggests reviewing the following observations and feelings you and your loved one had while meeting with the home care agencies:

  • Did someone answer or did I need to leave a message?
  • Was the staff genuine and thoughtful?
  • Did staff listen to your concerns and offer ideas for solutions?
  • Go with your gut. If something didn’t feel right, the home care provider may not be the right fit for your family.
  • Be wary of agencies promising perfection as it may signal other issues.

Unless your loved one’s care needs are urgent, take your time making a decision.

Three steps to find a home care agency.

While home care and home health care may sound similar, these types of care offer different services. Home care typically focuses on a client’s safety in their residence along with emotional and social wellness, while home health care offers medical-focused care to a client in their residence. This is why home care may be a good option if your loved one is in relatively good health but just needs a helping hand around their home or someone to help them with errands and socialization.

A description about how A Place for Mom helps families find immediate care at home.

It can feel overwhelming and emotional to navigate the home care agency search. You are not alone in this process. The Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom understand your desire to find a home care agency that fits you or your loved one’s distinct situation. They can help you locate suitable home care providers in your area, all at no cost to you.

This article originally appeared on APlaceForMom and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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