In 2015, 4.5 million seniors received some type of in-home care for at least part of the year. This number didn’t include any seniors who received care in a living facility or hospital. Since the 65 and older population has risen dramatically over the last few years, these numbers will likely continue to rise.

Many people choose to be caregivers for their aging parents or other relatives. But it can be difficult to balance caregiving alone with so many other responsibilities vying for a person’s attention. For this reason, many turn to home care agencies to provide assistance.

But choosing a home care agency isn’t always the best option and not every agency is created equally. Choosing the right provider is essential in ensuring seniors receive the best possible care.

But how can you determine which caregiving assistance is best for you? Continue reading to learn seven major considerations.

1. Do You Need in-Home Medical Care?

There are two primary types of in-home care available for your aging loved ones. These include home health care and non-medical home care.

Home health care is used for seniors with preexisting conditions. It may include things like medication management, checking blood sugars, taking vitals, and generally monitoring a medical condition. This type of care may also be appropriate for those early in the stages of memory issues, like dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Non-medical home care includes a range of services that help a senior with their daily lives. Non-medical home care might include running errands, making meals, doing laundry, and cleaning the home. It may also include assistance with sitting, standing, grooming, bathing and other simple tasks.

2. How Much Do Services Cost?

Consider your budget and ask for estimated service quotes. While the total cost is important, be sure you’re asking other essential cost-related questions.

Examples of cost-related questions you should be asking include:

  • What is the hourly rate for services?
  • How many hours per week (or month) do you expect services to take?
  • What is your company’s billing frequency?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • Does your home care agency accept insurance or alternative funding sources?

3. Is the Home Care Agency Licensed?

Licensing laws vary by state and (occasionally) municipality. It’s important to research the home care agency licensing requirements for your location.

These laws and regulations are meant to keep your older loved one safe and ensure they’re well cared for. Never work with an agency that doesn’t at least meet the bare minimum for licensing requirements.

You may also want to show a preference for those who have gone beyond the bare minimum to receive additional licensing, certification, or accreditation. These additional steps show commitment and care on behalf of the agency.

4. Is the Home Care Agency Bonded and Insured?

Every business should have insurance. Specifically, you’ll want to look for liability insurance. Ask the agency you hope to use for a copy of the insurance declaration page as proof.

Many companies that provide caregiving assistance also bond their employees. Basically, this is an amount of money set aside specifically for incidences of property damage or caregiver theft.

Bonding isn’t a full-proof way to stop caregiver theft, but it is a solid method of deterrence. Be sure to ask whether all employees are bonded, as well as the value of those bonds.

5. Does the Agency Have a Good Reputation?

Companies receive their reputations for a reason. If a home care agency has created a negative reputation for themselves, it’s because they deserve it. Likewise, companies with positive reputations have worked hard to build them.

Determining an agency’s reputation is easier than ever in the modern age. A quick search in your favorite search engine can bring up multiple review sites. The easiest way to do this is to type “(agency’s name) + reviews.”

Most review sites allow previous clients to rate a company between one and five stars. They’re also allowed to provide written reviews. These written reviews detail the reasons behind the ratings, so be sure to at least skim through them.

6. How Well Are the Home Care Staff Vetted?

A home care agency is only as good as its staff. With this in mind, you want to ask how well these staff members are vetted prior to working with any agency. Asking a few simple questions can help you understand an agency’s vetting process.

A few questions to ask include:

  • What certifications or licenses are your staff required to hold?
  • What training does your staff receive after hire?
  • Are your employees’ drug tested?
  • Do your employees undergo background checks?
  • Are there any other ways you determine employee eligibility that I should be aware of?

7. How Are the Agency’s Communication Skills?

Before choosing a home care agency, it’s important you have both an over-the-phone and in-person interview. During these interviews, you can figure out a lot about the agency you hope to hire. Most importantly, pay attention to the agency’s communication skills.

Consider whether the person you’re speaking to is actively listening to your needs, cares, and concerns. Are they asking questions and summarizing your needs to ensure they’ve heard you correctly? Do you feel like they care about your concerns?

Poor communication skills can be a disaster when hiring someone to help care for your aging loved one. But, it goes beyond the obvious frustrations.

Inadequate communication skills often lead to a lack of caring in other services. If the agency can’t be bothered to listen to you during an interview, how can they be trusted to provide adequate care for your loved one?

Choosing the Best Available Senior Home Care Services Is Essential

At Help at Home, we strive to provide quality in-home care for families in Chevy Chase, Maryland. We also strive to do the same in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington, DC Metropolitan area. To put your mind at ease, Help at Home is a fully licensed and insured provider, and all of our caregivers are thoroughly screened beforehand.

Contact us today to discuss your needs or to schedule a free in-home assessment.