In-Home Care Explained
In-home care agencies offer a wide range of services -- everything from grocery shopping and meal preparation to personal care such as toileting and bathing. You can hire an in-home care worker to come to your home just once, to give you a much-needed break; you can hire someone to come regularly; or you can even find someone to live in your loved one's home.
Note: Caregivers from in-home care agencies do not generally provide medical care.
At-home care costs range from $10 to $40 per hour, depending on where you live in the U.S. and the training, experience level, and expertise of the specific caregiver who comes to your home. Companion care costs less; personal care assistants generally cost more. Costs for live-in care are $120 to $200 per day, or more, depending on where you live.
In some cases, in-home care expenses are covered by veterans benefits. Learn more about 8 Creative Ways to Pay for In-Home Care.
Also called: elder care companion, companion care, elder companion
When you first start noticing that your loved one needs a bit of help, companion care is a good place to start. Companion care provides an extra pair of eyes, ears, and hands to help your loved one remain independent longer.
Look for an elder companion for help with:
- Driving your loved one on errands or to social outings
- Grocery shopping
- Taking your loved one to the doctor
- Cooking, sometimes filling your loved one's freezer with healthy prepared meals
- Light housekeeping such as vacuuming, bathroom and kitchen cleaning
- Organizational projects such as cleaning your closets or junk drawer
- Keeping your loved one company -- playing cards, looking at photo albums, or even just sitting and chatting
Learn more about What Care Companions Do.
Also called: personal care aides
If your loved one needs care that involves physical contact, you'll need a personal care assistant. Broadly speaking, personal care assistants have undergone a training program so they can support your loved one with activities of daily living
A personal care assistant can help with:
- Nail care
- Getting dressed
- Dental care
If needed, most personal care assistants will also help with driving, shopping, cooking, light housekeeping, and keeping your loved one company. Learn more about What Personal Care Assistants Do.
Our caregiving experts tell us that respite is really important to the well-being of family caregivers. If you're the primary person taking care of your loved one, you probably already know -- sometimes, you just need a break, to cross things off your to-do list, to spend time with friends, to do a bit of traveling, or to reenergize yourself.
In-home care agencies can help. Call to arrange care for a one-time event, or schedule someone to come on a weekly or monthly basis. Learn more about respite care in 8 Ways to Arrange Breaks from Caregiving.
Many in-home care agencies can help you arrange round-the-clock care for your loved one, to be sure that someone is with him 24 hours a day. This might be a single caregiver who lives in your loved one's home or a set of caregivers who work in shifts. Learn more in What to Expect From Live-in Care.
When hiring a provider to care for your loved one, be sure to know whether you're hiring an in-home care agency or an in-home care registry.
An in-home care agency is the employer of record. They will be responsible for hiring and paying the caregiver, including withholding taxes. You can expect an agency to provide more training, screening, and supervision of the individual caregivers; ask to find out the specifics.
An in-home care registry, by contrast, does not employ the caregiver. Registries are a referral service -- they will help you find caregivers in your area and will collect a referral fee for making the match. Once you hire the caregiver, you're the employer which means you're responsible for payroll, taxes, and management.
First you'll want to select an agency. Here in the Caring.com In-Home Care Directory, you can learn more about the agencies in your area. See where they're located and read reviews from other families. Be sure to call at least a few different agencies to learn more about what they do and what makes them unique. Get references and check them. To help you with your interviewing process, use the In-Home Care Agency Checklist.
Once you've chosen an agency, you'll want to talk to them about your loved one's personality and unique needs. Would you prefer a caregiver who is chatty or reserved? Someone who is strong enough to help support your loved one's weight? Do you have a language preference? Be sure to agree on how many hours of care you'll need each week, how workers will be selected, how workers will be supervised, and what will happen when the caregiver is on vacation or out sick.
Finally, once you're ready for your new caregiver's first day, be sure to review 10 Things to Discuss With a New Caregiver.