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What Questions Should You Ask When Hiring a Home Care Agency to Care for an Aging Parent?

Hiring someone to come into your home to care for your elderly parents or loved one can be daunting. How will you know if they’re up to the task? How do you know if they will be the right fit? Will they understand your parent’s needs and, most importantly, will your loved one be safe in their care?

Create a job description

Start by assessing your needs. Gather your thoughts and jot some notes. Make a “needs list” and ask yourself:

  • What will you need the caregiver to do every day?
  • Will her/his duties include meal preparation or light housekeeping?
  • Does your loved one need personal care such as grooming, dressing, bathing or toileting assistance?
  • Is there any equipment that the caregiver will need to use?
  • Will the caregiver need specialized training or certifications?

Know what to ask the agency

Agencies differ in their services, policies and procedures and their approach to care. So it’s important to ask questions to make sure they will be a good fit for your loved one.

  • How long has the agency been in business/providing care? Some home care agencies are part of a national franchise. Make sure you understand how long this particular office has been in business, and not just when the national franchise was established.
  • Does the agency have references or satisfaction reports from authorizing agencies and/or clients?
  • Does the agency have experience caring for people with your loved one’s condition?
  • Does its staff have the training/experience needed? Remember, staff can have varying levels of training and licensing.
  • Does the staff receive ongoing training?
  • Does the agency provide a written plan of care for clients, and does it review the plan regularly?
  • Does the agency require a minimum number of hours per visit? Home care agencies usually bill by the hour, but many home care agencies have a minimum block of time for which they will come out.
  • What is the cost for care, and how often does the agency bill for services?
  • What forms of payment and insurance does it accept?
  • What happens if the regular worker is sick or cannot make it? Does the agency have other staff it can send out?
  • How will the agency handle problems with a worker? Will you have the option of requesting someone else?
  • Is the caregiver who will be in your home bonded and insured?
  • How often does the agency perform background checks and drug testing on employees For some agencies, it’s only at hire.
  • Does the agency have different types of aides on staff, including those with medical training?
  • How often will the agency communicate with you? How will you communicate with the agency after hours, if need be? Will a staff member be able to address your after-hours questions?

You can find more information about in-home care and government-funded in-home care programs provided by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B on our In-home Care page.

This article is adapted from our connect resource guide.  This downloadable guide provides articles of interest and listings of local resources for those caring for an aging loved one in metro Detroit and southeast Michigan (including Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties. )