15 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Home Healthcare Agency

When you hire an in-home healthcare worker from an agency rather than independently, you usually work closely with agency staff instead of job applicants. These questions can help you navigate the agency hiring process. (If you're hiring on your own, see 15 Questions to Ask When Interviewing an In-home Health Worker on Your Own.)

  1. Will you take care of all required payroll paperwork for my parent's worker?

    A significant amount of paperwork is involved when employing someone, covering such matters as taxes, Social Security, and disability. One plus to hiring from an agency (and the reason it's usually more expensive than hiring independently) is that it normally does this for you. Still, it never hurts to double-check.

  2. Are you Medicare certified?

    Medicare certified agencies are eligible to be paid through Medicare, the government's health coverage for people over 65. To become Medicare certified, an agency must meet federal standards for patient care.

  3. Can my parent and I interview candidates and give input on the choice?

    The more control you and your parent have over choosing a home health worker, the better you'll feel about the person. Agencies approach this differently, so you'll need to ask.

  4. What kind of background check do you do on your workers?

    It's increasingly common for employers to do criminal background checks on potential employees. Since trust is critical when hiring someone to help your parent in a home setting, these checks are valuable screening tools.

  5. Do you check your workers' driving record and driver's license?

    If you need someone to drive your parent, even occasionally, it's important to know what kind of driver you're getting. Car insurance requirements, by the way, differ state by state. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see what's required in your state. And if the worker will be driving your parent's or your car, check with the insurance company to find out how to include new drivers.

  6. Are your workers bonded?

    If someone is bonded, her work is basically insured, and your parents will be covered if she breaks the washing machine or steals something. Bonding coverage varies, so ask for details. It's a level of reassurance that can make a difference but isn't essential.

  7. Do you provide any training for your workers?

    If so, ask the agency whether training is done once or on an ongoing basis.

  8. Are the healthcare workers your employees or independent contractors?

    Some agencies function more like job referral services, linking independent workers with jobs rather than managing their own employees. With independent contractors, you'll likely be required to do more paperwork and supervision. It's a good idea to be clear about this from the start.

  9. What kind of supervision do you provide?

    Does the agency check in with its workers daily or weekly? Is someone available to provide expertise or extra assistance if needed?

  10. How do you handle a worker's sick days, vacation days, and holidays? Will you automatically send a replacement worker?

    Will you automatically send a replacement worker? Everyone needs breaks and time off, especially home health workers, whose work is physically and emotionally demanding. Find out how agencies cover for worker absences and what's required from your end.

  11. What's the turnover rate of your workers?

    Do you think they like their jobs? Do you offer benefits? It's always hard to know if you'll get an honest answer, but it never hurts to ask. A simple truth prevails: People who are happy with their work make better employees. See if you can get a reading on this.

  12. How do you handle conflict between a client and worker?

    It helps to know how much support you'll get from an agency should a conflict arise -- and it probably will. Does the agency mediate conflicts, and if so, how? Is it flexible about changing workers if things don't improve?

  13. Do you have customers I can talk to about their experiences?

    Ask for several references. This is one of the best ways to get a sense of how an agency performs over time.

  14. Do you accept payment from insurance companies?

    If your parent has, say, long-term care insurance that pays for the cost of in-home care, you'll want to make sure the agency accepts this kind of payment. If not, you're probably better off using one that does.

  15. What kind of service agreement is required?

Was this checklist helpful?

20 Comments So Far. Add Your Wisdom.

9 days ago

I love what you suggested about asking about training. You're going to want to make sure the people that could be taking care of your loved one have been properly trained. My friend is in the process of finding a home care service for his mom right now. He's been trying to figure out what he should be looking for. I'm definitely going to show him these questions so he can get a better idea. Thanks for the post!

9 months ago

I am going to take these questions in with me while I'm looking at different agencies. It will be good to know that the agency can fully take care of us. That is something that I was a little worried about.

about 1 year ago

my mother in law does not care for her caregiver. she has been told she has to accept the caregiver or she will lose her medicare. is this true? can she lose medicare if refusing a bath.

about 1 year ago

I've always wondered what you're supposed to ask in those situations. How hard is it to find a good in home healthcare person? I think I might need to hire someone to take care of my mom. http://www.handlewcare.com/?main_action=content&page_id=1

over 1 year ago

Over the years my extended family has had bad experiences with in home care givers for my grand mother and aunts. These experiences have made it hard for me to take the step and find in home day care for my mother. I'm afraid to trust anyone--private care givers or those hired through an agency. I feel a little better about going through an agency, however. I really need someone to stay with Mom at least one day a week so that I can have a break. Any advise?

about 2 years ago

I study and work as a care giver and more.

Anonymous said over 2 years ago

Can an agency legally sue a 98 year old woman for $15,000 for rehiring a home aid after the worker changed agencies? The contract says for a whole year, she was not allowed to hire that aid directly or indirectly. The aid was rehired through the new agency. It seems that a contract like that is illegal to start with, and therefore, uninforceable. Also, the original agency is refusing to refund the $3,500 deposit, claiming that the required two weeks notice was not given in writing. How should a family handle this catastrophe? Where can we find more information about these issues?

over 3 years ago

Hello nearly died ­twice, Thank you very much for your question. If you'd like, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( http://www.caring.com/ask ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager

over 3 years ago

Some of us look healthier than we are - good days ok bad days life threatening. How should we handle hiring help that will be dependable in either case?

Anonymous said over 3 years ago

Time Sheets ?'s Perfomance ?'s Documentation of work performed daily & quality questions. Uniform & badge questions Cooking for children questions Meal plan questions A form that could be printed out and used in interview situtions laundry list so to speak

almost 4 years ago

We are in the process of finding home health for my Mom, several of these I had not thought of. Now one agency we considered accepted payment from my Mom's long term care carrier however they also required a non-refundable 2 wk payment which had to be paid before they allowed us to meet any candidates.

almost 4 years ago

HUGELY helpful...it is remarkable how timely the articles on Caring.com are for our family. Thank you for anticipating so many of our needs

about 4 years ago

Hi cycle 1, Thanks for your question. Here's an Ask & Answer page all about becoming certified for home health care: (http://www.caring.com/questions/how-to-become-certified-for-home-health-care) I hope that helps get you started. Good luck!!-- Emily

about 4 years ago

I need information on becoming certified as an in home health care provider. Right now my friends mom is ill and needs someone here to clean, cook, assist. (mom) making sure she is changing her clothes bathing safely. Do I need to be certified or licensed to do this? I might also have to check her blood sugar and administer meds. Any information for me please would be great. Thanks very much.

about 4 years ago

ALWAYS go through a legitamate agency that EMPLOYS EVERY CAREGIVER. Put the liability and risk on the agency. Ask the right questions. If the agency truely employs the caregiver. They must withhold income taxes and provide workers comp. Do not try to do it all yourself. The savings are not worth the risk. Who will you turn to if there is a work related injury or theft? Who will provide care if the caregiver is not available or sick?

over 4 years ago

I think therse questions are good to ask, so that you are not getting into something that your not expecting. I am an LPN and my agency is tryng to find a good way to market. WE are here to keep people in there homes as long as possible . We want people who are trying to assist in keeping loved ones independent as long as it is safe and not contraindicated by a physicain., We offer inhome care,meal prep,assistance with activities of daily living as well as skilled nursing services,wound care.please email if any questions _ fivestarnursing@yahoo.com --Thanks

over 4 years ago

is importand to know more about senior and your family...

Anonymous said over 6 years ago

hi my name is walde.I am a certify home heath aide

about 7 years ago

Moosh. Check out the Caring.com article on Hiring In-Home Care On Your Own. It should help you.

about 7 years ago

Some of us have to pay less so hire people not in an agency. How should we handle that? What questions would be appropriate?