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Questions to Ask When Choosing a Senior Home Care Agency

What to ask when choosing a senior care agency
Home Care Agency visits elderly woman and family member to discuss home care

Choosing a senior home care agency to take care of your aging family member can be intimidating. With all the choices out there, you want your elderly loved one to get the best care possible so as to continue aging in place at home. When getting started, it’s important to pick an agency that provides all of the services that they need. How can you determine what those needs may be? Speak with their doctor, a hospital discharge planner, or care manager who is familiar with your loved one’s medical history, conditions and living requirements. Those sources may also familiar with the various home care agencies in the area.

Once you have a list of those agencies, it’s then time to move on to the screening phase and meet with a contact at each agency. To prepare for those sit-downs you should compile a list of key questions to ask to narrow your search down further. To assist your efforts, here are several questions to consider based on advice from home care industry insiders.

What Services Does Your Agency Provide?

Most all agencies offer daily living assistance like light housekeeping, cooking, personal hygiene and companionship. These services are usually delivered by home care aids. But find out if they also can provide more involved medical care that your loved one might need. This could include therapy, dementia care, 24-hour care, post-surgical care, or illness recovery care. Are they staffed with professionals like registered nurses, social workers, physical therapists and nutritionists? In a nutshell,  when choosing a senior home care agency determine if they offer the services that your family member needs.

Is Your Agency Licensed and Certified?

Home care agencies that offer medical services must be licensed. But in some states if they don’t offer medical care the agency doesn’t have to be when providing basic assistance and companion care. You should also ask if the agency is certified in the specific service areas you are seeking. Again, there are states that don’t require caregiver certification. Any agency worth their salt should have some type of in-house staff training, employee standards and continuing education. Also ask who owns and operates the agency, and how long they’ve been in business.

How is Your Staff Screened and Supervised?

Ask about the screening guidelines used at the agency, including criminal and driving background checks. Are their employees bonded against theft or damage in the home? It’s a good idea to meet some of the supervisors there. Discuss how they rotate caregivers to keep them fresh or when a staff member can’t make it to work. Before choosing a senior home care agency, schedule a time for the potential caregiver(s) to sit down with your loved one. This will allow you to see if their personalities mesh. And finally, find out whether you can replace a caregiver with another if you are unhappy with their performance.

How Much Does Your Home Care Cost?

A majority of elective in-home care is paid for out-of-pocket. In some instances government programs like Medicare or Medicaid will pick up the tab. However, to receive those benefits an agency must provide skilled nursing care. Some long-term care insurance policies will cover daily living assistance up to a capped benefit amount. In any event, ask for a copy of the agency’s fee schedule so that you can look over those figures. Most agencies are flexible in terms of allowing you to tailor a caregiving schedule that best fits your needs and budget. If money is an issue, find out if they offer any financial assistance. And finally, get their terms in writing and read the contract over carefully before signing.

What are Your Agency’s Communication Policies?

Can the agency supply you up front with written job descriptions and caregiver duties? Find out their communication policy with family members. This should include how they communicate (in writing, phone calls, etc.) and how often. Learn about any quality-of-care standards they have in place. Do they conduct ongoing staff training programs to maintain/improve those standards? Does each client have a written care plan? Also ask about conflict resolution. How are complaints handled within the agency, and at what level (shift supervisor, owner, etc.)? And finally, before choosing a senior home care agency, inquire about agency satisfaction reports that are available to the public.

We’ll Gladly Provide the Answers You Need

Finding reliable home care services for your aging loved one can be confusing. For over 10 years now, family owned and operated Cranberry Home Care has been providing top-quality in-home caregiving services to clients in the Middleboro, MA area. We specialize in senior assistance for personal care, companionship, homemaking and transportation, delivered in an affordable and flexible package to put your mind at-ease. All of our caregivers are carefully screened, licensed and bonded for your loved one’s protection.

Our staff supervision and continuing education is second to none, and our back-up call support means that your family member always has the care they deserve. Cranberry Home Care’s customized service plans ensure that you only pay for the services you need, and we always communicate openly and honestly with the families we serve. To ask us any questions about our agency, or why we are quickly becoming the go-to senior home care choice for families in the Southeastern Massachusetts area, visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now.

Trish Garbitt
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