Step 1 of Hiring a Homecare Agency: Crucial Questions

There are three basic ways to go about hiring a caregiver. First, you need to decide whether to hire a private caregiver or go through an agency. There are two kinds of homecare agencies: referral and full-service. This article outlines the questions you need to ask if you decide to go the agency route. Gilbert Guide also provides information on hiring private caregivers and working with agencies, along with detailed explanations of the services you can expect from all three homecare options.

Your Personal Needs

Before calling any agencies, make a list of what the job will entail and what your expectations are for hiring a professional caregiver. Be as detailed as possible.

  • When and how often do you need a caregiver? Is it likely to change soon? If so, will it be a problem?
  • What duties would you like the caregiver to perform and how often? List out the duties and frequency (e.g, light housekeeping weekly, driving to doctor's appointment as needed, and aiding with bathing every morning).
  • Do you need any specialized care, such as for dementia or incontinence?

The agency you choose will help you determine how many hours a week are needed as well as figuring out the best timing, but it's up to you to identify subtler personal needs. Make a note of any strong preferences that you have regarding your caregiver. Also consider the following issues:

Cultural Awareness & Sensitivity

Let the agency know if the person who will be receiving care has cultural habits or traditions, food preferences or limited English-speaking skills that need to be accommodated.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You


Some people may feel uncomfortable with personal care tasks being performed by a person of the opposite gender. Ask the agency if they will send a caregiver who suits your loved one's preference.

Pet Peeves

The caregiver you hire will be spending a lot of time with your loved one, so this is a significant issue. What are your loved one's pet peeves? Disorder or messiness? Smoking in the home? Bring these up when you coordinate with the agency.

Personality Traits

You want your loved one to feel comfortable around and get along well with the caregiver. Are there any personality traits that would be beneficial or detrimental for a caregiver to have in this relationship? Make your concerns known to the agency.

Questions to Ask an Agency

Before calling a homecare agency, assess your needs and know what kind of care you need. Ask yourself what type of homecare agency you want. If a full-service agency best meets your needs, make sure the agency offers the following:

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

  • Criminal background check on caregivers
  • Worker's compensation insurance
  • Professional liability insurance or bond
  • Covers all payroll taxes
  • Ongoing supervision of caregivers
  • Caregiver training, especially in areas that are important for your loved one, such as dementia training

See Gilbert Guide's listings to find full-service agencies in your area. Once you narrow your choices down, the following questions will help you get a feel for the agency's protocols and management style.

  • How often are caregivers checked in on by supervisors? (Weekly and as-needed checks are best.)
  • Do check-ins occur over the phone, via progress reports or in person?
  • How often are care plans reevaluated? (Every 30 days and as needed is best.)
  • Are caregivers available 24 hours a day?
  • Are supervisors on call 24 hours a day?
  • If I request a new caregiver what is the longest time it will take to find a new match? (Anything over 48 hours is unreasonable.)
  • How long does it take to cover a shift if my caregiver is unavailable at the last minute?
  • If your rates change, how much time will I have between the time I am informed and when I will need to pay the higher price?
  • When is payment due? What are my payment options?
  • If my caregiver is sick, will he or she contact me directly? Will you inform me if a new caregiver will be coming?
  • Will caregivers change periodically or will I most likely have the same person(s)?

To help you find the right local homecare services for your loved one, our partner ElderCarelink has established a nationwide network of carefully screened eldercare providers. Find help quickly with this FREE Homecare Referral service...get a detailed list of matched providers within minutes.

Tip: Specialized Dementia Care Does your loved one require specialized care for dementia? Larger agencies can usually offer more applicants with specialized training in a variety of areas, as they have a larger pool from which to draw.

Read Step 2 of Hiring a Homecare Agency: Assessment, Care Plans & Contracts