What to Ask in a Home Care Agency Interview

home care interview

So you've made the decision to help your aging loved one find in-home care help so he or she can still live at home while getting the proper assistance. The next step is finding and hiring an in-home care agency that can help provide the right care for your loved one.

When hiring an in-home care worker through an agency, these questions should help you find a reliable match for your loved one. Involve the person you're caring for in the interview process as much as possible. It's really your loved one’s interview, with you asking the questions for him or her (if he or she can ask the questions themselves, even better).

What follows are the key questions to ask to find the right agency and caregiver(s) for your loved one.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Consider 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?

    SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

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:

Determine if the agency is legitimate and operating above board

Ask about 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?

How the agency charges for in-home care 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.

More questions to work out the details and narrow the list

  • 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? What, if any, mileage charges apply?

  • Can I talk to former or current clients?

Finding the right home care for your aging loved one can be daunting, but it's a crucial process to ensure that he or she gets the the support and care they need to stay at home. The better informed you are, the more quickly you're likely to find a care option that fits your loved one's needs.

Kate Rauch

Kate Rauch has spent more than two decades writing about health for websites and print media, including WebMD, Drugstore, the Washington Post health section, and Newsday, as well as HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Group Health (in Seattle). See full bio

5 months, said...

Legally how often is a home health agency required to update information on a client? How much training does an agency have to offer their employees and the cost, For becoming individual bonded for a CNA what is needed and how much is the cost? This is what I need information for the state of Virginia

over 3 years, said...

straightforward article with common-sense advice that's easily digested.

over 4 years, said...

These are wonderful questions. One I would include is: Tell me about your experience of one of your clients. This is a very rewarding field and if they dont feel that way, then that is a reason not to hire them. I have had great experiences with all my clients.

about 5 years, said...

Great questions!

over 5 years, said...

It was specific.

almost 6 years, said...

Are you bonded? Are you comfortable driving my [spouse]? I actually have someone new coming to stay with him for 1 1/2 hours this evening while I am at a meeting a short distance away. Got the name off a bullitin board in town. I'd like to know how to do a background check..subject for another article?

almost 6 years, said...

Some of the questions were very helpful, especially about the background check. I would not have thought to ask about the insurance either. Thanks.

about 6 years, said...

Great refreshers on the questions. Like you Brad, I need to adjust the questions for our needs of a care provider in home.

over 6 years, said...

Great tips. In addition, at customcaretrust.com, there's a workbook you can download and print out that is more geared toward patient/individual specific likes/dislikes, needs, personality, history, etc. You can fill out the responses about the elderly person so that caregivers can easily learn about the person they are caring for from how he or she likes his or her meat cooked, to hobbies and character traits. The book you compile will ensure that the elderly person will be able to keep his or her integrity and voice, and receive the best care possible. It's a great resource for multi-caregiver situations or when you're introducing a new caregiver, and for caregivers as important personal and medical information is at their fingertips. They thought of everything...definitely check it out.

over 6 years, said...

some items I would have neglected.

over 6 years, said...

Talk to a lawyer about employment law. If you or your family member is the only source or major source of income for the individual caregiver you hire, YOU are probably considered their employer and you are legally responsible for withholding taxes (Federal, State, Social Security, and Medicare), worker's comp, unemployment insurance, etc., etc., no matter what kind of contract you have with them. The small amount of money you will have to pay a lawyer (I'm not one) will be well worth what it could cost if you don't handle this correctly!

over 6 years, said...

To Youngest Daughter, call the phone company and explain your Mom's Illness. Usually, the phone company will not charge you any longer. Speak only to a supervisor.

almost 7 years, said...

If your loved one has Alzheimer's disease, you should definitely ask if the potential caregiver has experience working with people with dementia. It is critical that a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's have experience and know about the disease!

almost 7 years, said...

This is very helpful in knowing, as a caregiver, and having a family member with caregiver needs. Thanks!!!

almost 7 years, said...

How about asking an individual caregiver for proof of their professional liability insurance and workman's comp insurance so they are covered if they are injuired in the home. Since this is the employers legal responsibility I don't want mom to lose her home because a caregiver became injuried and sued for damages. Caregivers win in court when they are private / individually employeed.

about 7 years, said...

How do I fix the phone so my Mom cannot call the operator? She had over $100 in operator calls in one month.

over 7 years, said...

Liked list of basic questions so I could adapt it to my own preferences.