Short-Term Support: How to Interview In-Home Care Agencies
The ideal time to search for a senior living community is before the need becomes urgent. This gives you the time you need to tour several communities, ask questions, and make an informed choice.
When a senior loved one has a sudden change in health or another type of emergency, however, you might need a short-term solution to keep your loved one safe while working on a long-term plan. In-home care can be a short-term solution to utilize while exploring local senior living communities and preparing for a move.
Caregivers from a home care agency can help with personal care, light housekeeping, and even meal preparations. In the short term, it might be just the right amount of support to keep a senior safe.
What should you ask an in-home care provider you are considering hiring?
We have a list of questions you might find useful.
Interviewing an In-Home Care Provider for Short-Term Assistance
1. Are caregivers employees of the agency or contract workers?
Some home care agencies rely solely on contract workers. This can keep costs lower, but it also may mean that your family member will have many different caregivers coming in and out of their home.
2. How does the agency screen employees? Are they bonded?
When considering someone who will be coming into a senior loved one’s home, it’s vital to understand how employees are screened and what type of background checks are conducted. These caregivers will have access to personal information, prescription medications, valuables in the home, and more.
Ask the agency how their caregivers are screened when they are hired and how they are supervised moving forward. Also make sure to ask if the agency bonds its caregivers and how they handle situations where something of value to the senior goes missing.
3. Can you meet the caregivers ahead of time?
It’s important to find a caregiver your older family member feels comfortable inviting into their home. Ask the agency if you can arrange for your family to meet the team member who will be the primary caregiver for your loved one before you make a commitment to using their services. Many agencies offer this as a courtesy to families.
4. What is the agency’s caregiver turnover rate?
Caring for older adults can be emotionally and physically exhausting. That is true for both professional and family caregivers. As a result, the senior care industry has a higher turnover rate than other types of employment. A turnover rate greater than 50 percent, however, might be a sign the home care agency has some internal challenges.
5. What happens when a caregiver is ill or has their own emergency?
Professional caregivers get sick and have emergencies, too. Make sure you ask what the procedure is when this happens.
6. How does the agency communicate with you?
Communication is another important area to explore. Ask the agency how they keep in touch with you and how often they will provide updates. Some agencies have their own cell phone apps that update family members in real time after a visit. Also inquire about the process for alerting you if something needs to be addressed immediately.
7. What does the home care agency’s training program entail?
The technology and resources available for in-home care are constantly advancing. You’ll want to make sure the agency you choose stays current with emerging best practices so your senior loved one receives the best possible care.
8. Does the agency have a minimum hour requirement?
It isn’t uncommon for home care agencies to have minimum hour requirements. Sometimes it is a per-visit minimum, and other times it is a weekly or monthly minimum. Be sure you understand what the agency’s practices are.
9. Is a service contract required?
Most agencies require a contract for service. Ask to see a copy of it so you have time to review it before you make any commitment.
Finally, remember to check the agency’s references and read online reviews. It will give you good insight on what families have to say about the agency’s care and customer service.
Respite Care as a Trial Stay
Another option to consider is short-term respite. Your senior loved one can stay at a local assisted living community for a few weeks to see how they like it without making a commitment. They’ll enjoy the same services and support as long-term residents. Call the community nearest you to learn more about respite care at Sunrise!