When it's time to select an in-home care provider for your loved one, you'll want to do your homework. Start by reading reviews in the Caring.com In-Home Care Directory, and plan to talk to at least two providers so you can compare them and make sure you've found the right fit. Ask to speak to the agency owner or manager to get the most thorough answers.
A good in-home care provider will be easy to talk to, will understand your family's unique needs, and will be ready to answer any questions you may have. Use this checklist to start the conversation -- and be sure to take detailed notes as you go.
These questions will help you determine if the agency is legitimate and operating above board.
Is your agency licensed by the state?
Do you have a business license in your city?
Are your care workers bonded and/or insured?
Are your care workers legal residents of the U.S.?
Which types of services do you provide?
The Care Staff
Do your care workers receive regular immunizations for influenza, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and other communicable illnesses?
Ask to see documentation.
How do you screen your care workers?
Ask for specifics. It's best if the agency runs a national, fingerprint-based background check for all workers, along with checks on references, credit history, and driving record, plus drug screenings and checks against sexual offender databases.
What training do you provide?
Ask for details. Training can differ greatly, from sessions with an outside expert to a quick online course.
How do you retain great employees?
Ongoing training, paid vacation, and medical benefits can all help a company attract and keep the best staff members.
What supervision do you provide?
Ask specifically whether there are nurses or social workers on staff to provide support and advice to the care workers.
Can we interview different care workers and choose which one we'll work with?
Paying for Services
What do you charge?
Make sure to ask if there are any additional charges or fees that might apply in your situation.
Do you accept payment from insurance companies?
Do you offer a payment plan or other types of financial assistance? Do you accept credit cards?
Are your care workers employees or independent contractors?
Ask if the agency will take care of all payroll paperwork (including taxes, insurance, or benefits), or if that will be your responsibility.
Working out the Details
These questions can help you narrow your list from a few agencies you like to the one you like best.
What kind of service agreement is required?
Do you have guidelines or standards of conduct for your care workers?
Ask to see a copy.
Do you have consistent assignments, or will the care workers change on a regular basis?
Consistency is especially important for someone with dementia.
What happens if my normal care worker is sick or on vacation?
Ask if the agency will automatically send a replacement.
What happens if my normal care worker leaves the agency?
An agency should be able to provide consistent care even during staff transitions.
How do you handle conflicts between a care worker and a client?
Am I expected to provide meals for the care workers we hire?
Can your employees drive my loved one to appointments or social outings?
If so, ask what, if any, mileage charges apply.
Can I talk to former or current clients?