Once you’ve made the decision to hire an in-home agency to care for your senior or loved one, you’ll realize that it’s easier said than done. How do you begin? Where do you look? What do you need to know? If you know someone who is using an agency, a referral from them is a good place to start. Of course you can check with the Better Business Bureau and local Chamber of Commerce for a list of local agencies. They should also be able to tell you if there are any formal complaints against specific agencies. Simply doing an on-line search will also result in a list of agencies. In addition, your local hospital social worker can make some recommendations too.
So you’ve made all your calls, got your list together, and talked to several agencies. How do you choose between them? On the surface, they seem pretty much alike….they provide similar services at comparable rates. The important issue is “how are they different?” There are some important questions you should ask when you talk with them. Does the agency provide an initial consultation and safety check? If they do, is there a fee involved? What if you decide to go with another agency after their initial assessment? This consultation should be with a Registered Nurse who has years of experience in this type of work.
Double check as to what types of services are actually available. Is the staff comfortable with the more complex levels of care such as dressing changes, catheter tubes and the use of hoyer lifts? Are the caregivers monitored by a Registered Nurse who performs quality assurance checks for the clients and oversees ongoing staff training? How experienced are the caregivers?
An important issue to consider is how accessible is someone if you need an answer to a question or have a problem. Can you actually speak with someone in person or do you have to play phone tag with an answering machine? Along that same vein you need to know how flexible is the agency when it comes to scheduling. If something comes up and you need to cancel an appointment, do you pay a penalty?
Gathering this information from each of the agencies under consideration will help you make your decision. For a handy printable check off list addressing these same questions and more just visit our website at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com and go to the client education tab and click the link to Questions To Ask When Selecting A Home Care Agency.