When it comes to ensuring the well-being of your loved one who requires assistance, choosing the right in-home health care agency is crucial. To assist you in this process, we've compiled a comprehensive list of questions and considerations for your interviews and research.
Identify Your Needs First
Before contacting a senior home care provider, it's essential to understand your specific requirements. In-home care encompasses a wide range of services, from professional nursing and therapy to housekeeping and companionship. Knowing your needs in terms of days, times, and tasks, along with a potential start date, will help the agency assess their ability to meet your unique requirements effectively.
Questions to Ask Home Health Care Agencies:
- Licensing or Accreditation: Inquire about the agency's licensing or accreditation status. Not all agencies seek accreditation due to cost, but it's not necessarily indicative of quality. Keep an open mind if other aspects of the agency are appealing.
- Years in Business: Determine how long the agency has been operating.
- Employee Bonding and Insurance: Are agency employees bonded and insured?
- Background Checks: What kind of criminal background checks are conducted for prospective employees? How far back in an individual's history does the check cover? Is it both criminal and civil records? Do they verify licensing status across state jurisdictions and check credit reports? These details are crucial for peace of mind.
- Employee Qualifications: What experience and certifications are required before hiring aides?
- Training: What type of training does the agency provide to its employees, including specialized training in Alzheimer's and dementia care or incontinence care?
- Complaint Procedure: Understand the procedure for filing a complaint if the need arises.
- Worker's Compensation: Does the agency provide worker's compensation, ensuring you are not liable in case of employee injuries while providing care?
- Protection from Theft: How does the agency protect your family in case of theft?
- Fees and Additional Costs: What are the fees, and are there additional charges for weekends, holidays, or other circumstances? Is there a maximum limit on the care provided?
- Billing Procedure: Clarify the billing process, whether you pay the agency or the aide directly.
- Medicare and Insurance: Does the agency bill Medicare or other insurance directly for covered services?
- Minimum Hours or Days: Are there minimum requirements for hours or days of care per week? Are there unexpected fees or extra charges? Is there a maximum limit on the care provided, and is a new contract required for any changes in care levels?
- Job Descriptions: Does the agency provide job descriptions for its employees?
- Written Plan of Care: Will the agency provide a written plan of care for clients? How much input do you have in this plan?
- Family Caregiver Requirement: Is there a requirement for a primary family caregiver to be available for services? If so, what are the requirements?
- Consultation by Registered Nurse: Does the agency offer a free consultation by a registered nurse before starting services? Will the nurse consult with the physician and the family regarding the plan of care and needed services?
- Supervision and Availability: Who supervises the home care staff? Will the supervisor visit regularly? Is the supervisor available 24/7 in case of problems? Ensure these commitments are in writing.
- Consistency of Care: Will the same person provide care regularly? Is there a backup plan for staff absence? Request this in writing.
- Interviewing Employees: Can you interview employees before they start, and is there a fee for this service?
Specific Needs and Quality Control:
- Special Needs: Can the staff meet specific needs, including religious, cultural, and medical requirements?
- Quality Control: How does the agency ensure quality control? What checks are made by supervisory personnel, and how often? Is a 24-hour call-in to a registered nurse available?
- References: Request references from the agency. For specific needs, ask for references from families with similar diagnoses. Additionally, ask for references from healthcare professionals.
Questions for References:
- Were the agency's responses timely and adaptive to changing needs?
- Were the employees punctual and courteous?
- Did you need to change employees, and if so, how responsive was the agency to this request?
- Were you satisfied with the supervisor's response time and availability?
- Did you ever experience a staff no-show, and if so, was a replacement provided promptly?
Choosing an in-home health care provider is a significant decision. The option to receive care in the comfort of your own home is valuable and worth the thorough investigation and effort required to find the right fit for your family's unique needs.