Avoid These Mistakes When Selecting Home Care Services for Your Loved One
When your loved one comes to the point of needing a caregiver, choosing the right home care agency is essential to your loved one’s well-being. While it’s important to know the right questions to ask when searching for a home care agency, it’s equally as important to know what mistakes to avoid during the hiring process.
It pays to start looking for a home care agency before your loved one actually needs a caregiver. But, exactly what approach should you take in searching for an agency and how can you avoid making mistakes?
To help you get started, here are 10 of the biggest mistakes family members make when choosing a home care agency for their loved ones:
1. Waiting Too Long to Hire a Caregiver. Sometimes family members put off hiring a caregiver because they are in denial over their loved one’s health condition. Families may try caring for their loved ones themselves until it gets too much for them or they may believe that professional caregiving is too expensive. In some cases, by the time a family makes a decision to hire a caregiver, the older adult’s physical or mental condition could be deteriorating and may require more extensive care. What’s more, waiting too long can result in making a hasty decision that could result in choosing an agency that may not meet state and federal standards.
2. Not knowing what services an agency provides. It takes time to thoroughly research an agency, but getting as much information as possible is critical in the hiring process. To help families learn more about an agency’s mission and services, some companies provide a written notice of rights and responsibilities they have to clients. Families should also find out if the agency is willing to develop a plan of care for their loved one if supervisors will monitor caregivers, and make themselves available should family members have questions.
3. Not checking with your State Survey Agency. A State Survey Agency conducts inspections to determine whether home care agencies comply with Medicare and Medicaid standards. Families can ask to view the agency’s state survey report or go to the front page of Medicare’s website and click on “Find local help” under the “Resources” menu. Families may also check to see if their state’s Department of Social Services or another state department requires home care agencies to be licensed and regulated under state law.
4. Only considering the cost of home care. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. A low-cost home care agency may only provide limited services, and will not provide the full range of services an elderly client may need. What’s more, a low-cost agency may have a high caregiver turnover rate and inexperienced caregivers. It’s okay for families to ask questions about costs to make sure it’s affordable. Questions to ask could include how much are caregivers paid per hour, what type of insurance plan does the agency accepts, and whether the agency can work within a family’s budget.
5. Hiring an agency that doesn’t have enough backup workers. Caregivers, like everyone else, have times when they miss work. So, what happens when the primary caregiver is not available? Families should ask the home care agency about its backup plans. How long does it take for the agency to find another caregiver? Will the agency send out someone who has worked with your loved one before or will your loved one have to adjust to a stranger? How many backup caregivers are on call during holidays?
6. Hiring an Agency That Does Not Provide Continual Employee Training. Older adults have different types of health conditions that require special care, such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer. Are caregivers trained to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias? How often does the agency offer formal training to all of their caregivers? Are caregivers trained in best practices for home care? Are an agency’s caregivers trained to handle emergencies?
7. Not asking how long do employees work for the home care agency. An agency with a constant turnover of workers indicates a company’s lack of stability, which means clients may have several new caregivers in a short amount of time. This can lead to questions about the quality of care provided to older adults. A high turnover rate of supervisors could mean that families must repeatedly discuss their loved one’s situation with new people, which can leave them feeling frustrated, confused, and dissatisfied.
8. Failing to develop a care plan for your loved one in advance. Rather than just “wing it,” caregivers should have a schedule that outlines the routines of their clients, and the services needed, such as bathing, grooming, dressing, light housekeeping, and medication management. Having a care plan also helps a backup caregiver to continue a pre-established routine.
9. Not asking the older adult for input about potential caregivers. It’s common for family members to select someone they believe would be a good match for their loved one. Since older adults are the ones who need care, they should feel comfortable with the caregiver. So, if possible, allow the older adult to participate in the interview process. Family members may offer their views, but the opinion of the older adult is also critical to hiring a caregiver.
10. Hiring a Caregiver Without Doing A Thorough Background Check. There have been cases where caregivers have physically, emotionally, and financially harmed multiple older adults. Caregivers can continue to take advantage of vulnerable seniors when no one stops to do a background check of the individuals. The safety and security of older adults should be a home care agency’s top priority. Caregiver applicants should not enter an older adult’s home before being thoroughly screened.