10 Questions to Ask When Searching for In-Home Care

Searching for In-Home Care can be a big task. There are so many companies out there that provide In-Home Care services, so how do you choose one that is a reputable, safe, and reliable company that is also the right fit for your needs? We have compiled a list of questions that should help make the selection process easier:

1. Is the company you are considering properly licensed or accredited by an independent third party for in-home care?

While many companies will claim they are licensed, they may mean they have only a business license, and are not properly licensed with the state if required, or accredited by a nationally recognized independent review for in-home and personal care services. Licensing also must be appropriate to the type of care, some companies can only provide companion care, and not assistance with the Activities of Daily Living which is a different license.

2. How long has the company been in business and what areas do they serve?

In order to determine the stability of a company, their relative longevity, experience and size may be of help. In addition if they are part of a franchise, while the franchisor may have a long history that does not mean the local owner has that same experience, or stability. A company operating in a larger geographic area will likely have a larger pool of qualified caregivers to call upon if an emergency arises. Its always important to confirm who will manage your relationship, how back up is handled, and their availability for support 24/7.

3. What process is used to screen and verify the caregivers, including reviewing their credentials, qualifications, certifications, and references?

Have the company representative explain how caregivers’ credentials are verified, and if they undergo testing, screening and interviewing. Determine what levels of screening are used, state, local, and federal, and how this information is kept current.

4. Do both the company and the caregiver have insurance?

You should ask to inspect the company’s Professional and General Liability insurance to provide peace of mind that you are protected, and not just the company should anything go wrong. If you have concerns about someone being in your home or operating your vehicle with permission, you may want to ask your insurance agent about an umbrella liability policy. Check to be sure that caregivers are bonded for theft, and protect items that cannot be replaced.

5. Has a consultation and home visit been conducted prior to beginning service or recommending caregivers?

Making arrangements for care in your home is very different than being relocated to a facility where everything is in place already. When you choose in-home care, the client and their family are an essential part of determining, with a professional client care advisor, what services are right for the situation. The consultation and assessment may include prudent suggestions for modifying the home environment for improved safety.

6. Does the contract lock you into a long term or include penalties for discontinuing service?

Obtain clarity about the contract commitments you are making including the time period, any minimum, and what your cancellation options are. You should not expect any penalty for cancelling because of dissatisfaction or changing needs. Be aware that accepting a locked in low rate may limit your flexibility to cancel, or impose penalties. Find a company with a reputation for treating its clients fairly.

7. Is there a guarantee of caregiver match with no questions asked?

You should have a choice and the approval of the caregiver that will provide the personal care for you or a loved one. The caregiver is an invited guest into one’s home. If there is ever a problem for any reason with a caregiver, does the company have the flexibility to find you a different caregiver. Is their first responsibility to you, your needs, and your schedule. The decisions as to who provides your care and what type should be yours.

8. What provisions have been made to handle emergencies?

Generally, when it comes to in-home care the worst issues arise at night, on weekends or holidays. It is essential that the company you choose operate with a 24/7 mentality, including a defined process for managing problems outside of normal business hours. You should understand who is responsible for your relationship and expect them to respond within a few minutes of your call, and often it is best to test the system.

9. Have you obtained professional and client references?

While it may be difficult to conduct reference checks with clients due to privacy rules, it is relatively easy to search for information about the company on the internet, determine if they belong to industry associations that govern personal care, or see if they are registered with consumer groups like the Better Business Bureau. Take the time to weed out the bad candidates.

10. What are the rates for service?

Often this is the first question that is asked, but it probably should be the last. Before a company can make a quote, they should ask appropriate questions, and you should be comfortable that they can provide the services needed. Quoting prices without doing the background work can be a warning sign that you are being treated with a one size fits all approach, when each in-home care engagement is unique and personal. Companies may quote an hourly or weekly rate, but generally the more hours required per week will dictate a lower rate, subject to care needs. Live-in companions may offer an affordable alternative for the right situation. It is important to get a clear understanding of billing practices, payment options, and billing cycles.

American In-Home Care and our sister companies fit all of these criteria and are always honest and straightforward about our policies and our relationship with our clients. If you have any questions about our process, or about in-home care, please do not hesitate to contact your local Client Care Liaison who is standing by 24/7 to help.