9 Questions to Ask When Choosing an In-Home Care Agency

When looking for an in-home care agency, referrals from someone you trust is golden.  Good, reputable agencies will have a favorable reputation in the community so ask a trusted health care provider, family member or friend to see who they know.  

Once you have the names of several providers, you will want to learn more about them. Use this checklist below as a guide when meeting with providers.  It will give you good insight and help you make the right choice of which provider is best for you and your loved one.


 1.  What services do you provide?

___ transportation   ___housekeeping   ___ laundry   ___ bathing   ___medication reminders

___incontinence care   ___ errands   ___help with bill paying   ___ mail sorting

___meal preparation    ___ help with other services (pet care, supervising other service providers, etc)

Most in-home care agencies should be able to provide all of these services, and more.  They should also develop a personal care plan for your specific needs.  Most agencies will provide up to 24 hour care (but most will have a minimum number of hours per visit).  Some agencies will even do “pop-in” visits just to  check in on your loved one.


2.  Who will come to my home? Will you send the same person each time?

___ same caregiver   ___ different caregiver   ___ 2 or 3 of the same caregivers

determined by:   ___ availability   ___location ___needs

It’s important to find out if the agency will try to send the same caregiver(s) each time or if they staff based on who is available.  Most reputable agencies try to have consistency, so they will work with you to develop a set schedule.  Their goal should be to personally match based on your needs and caregiver strengths.  Good agencies will also try to match based on abilities, personalities, hobbies, etc.  And you always have the option of meeting them prior to placement in the home!


3.  What happens if we are not happy with the caregiver you send?

___ Will talk to them   ___ Will remove them from service

If at any time you are not satisfied, FOR ANY REASON, the agency should immediately remove that caregiver from service and send someone else. 


4.  Are your Caregivers employees or independent contractors?

You will also want to ask if they are bonded and insured?  What pre-employment testing is done on your employees? What training do you provide?  

___ Criminal background check   ___Motor Vehicle checks___ TB testing

___ Personal and Business References   ___ Dementia Training ___ Initial training (what’s included)

___ On-going training

This is one of the major benefits of using an in-home care agency.  If the agency has “employee” caregivers, they will be bonded and insured.  The agency will withhold all necessary taxes and pay the employer portion.  They are also covered under the agency’s workers compensation insurance in the event of a work-related injury.  They should be thoroughly screened including all of the above and sometimes more, depending on state regulations.  You will also want to understand what type of training they undergo prior to being placed in your home.


5.  What happens if someone calls out sick, is late or doesn’t show up? 

What are your back-up procedures? 

___ Find someone else      ____ Back-up plan in place

It’s important to find out if they have back-up plans in place.  Do they have a service guarantee?  You want to have peace-of-mind that your loved one will not be left alone. 


6.  Cost: 

___ What is the cost?    ____ are there any hidden costs? ___Is there an assessment fee?

___ How do we pay?   ____Is there a deposit required?

Most agencies are competitive and generally charge by the hour.  The cost will depend on your location.  All reputable agencies will do a free in-home assessment. 


7.  How long have you been in business and is this a franchise?

___ Franchise   ___ Locally owned   ___ Number of years in business

It’s good to understand who you are working with.  What their experience is and how long they have been in business.  Franchise operators have the benefit of a network of resources from their home office and other agencies.  Locally owned and operated agencies have advantages as well.  It really should depend on who you most feel comfortable with.


8.  How is communication with the family maintained?

___ Telephone   ___ Documentation Book   ____ On-line Care Plan

 Most reputable agencies will use some sort of web-based technology to track and document care plans and communication with clients, caregivers and family members.   Ask about this during the assessment. 


9.  What hours can I contact someone from the agency?

___ Monday through Friday   ___ All hours

The agency you select should be available 24/7 for any kind of emergency.   


 Additional Resources

You can also check out these other resources.


In Conclusion

Any reputable in-home care agency will be able to provide answers to all the above questions and they should be answers you are comfortable with.

If you are not comfortable, keep interviewing agencies until you find the right fit.

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section and I’ll be happy to get right back to you.


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