6 Steps to Finding the In-Home Care Agencies That Are Right For You11 minute read

11 minute read

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Updated for December, 2018

Aging at home is the preference for most seniors as it enables them to stay in a familiar home environment as they grow older. The main advantage to aging at home is that it allows one to keep some continuity that is both comforting and a strong part of our personal identity. The home we’ve lived in may carry years of happy memories as well as the household and personal items that are linked to our life’s journey.

doctor talking to senior man at home

Finding the proper caregiver to provide in-home assistance can be daunting, but there are certain steps you can take to finding the right in-home care you need.

Regardless of how independent and capable we have been in life, there comes a time when some extra assistance is needed in terms of personal care and long-term care, as chores and daily living activities may become burdensome or challenging. Certainly, we don’t wish to sacrifice our health and well-being as we age, but rather keep the standard of living that gives us the basic needs and lifestyle to keep us happy and content.

Getting some extra help from friends and family is important but for many seniors, they need a dedicated caregiver that can provide in-home health care. Whether it’s a few hours a day or even permanent in-home care, there are professional caregivers available and ready to help.

Finding the proper caregiver to provide in-home assistance can be daunting, but there are certain steps you can take to finding the right in-home care you need. Finding an in-home caregiver can be done one of two ways: hiring someone privately or going through a home care agency. Hiring an in-home caregiver through an agency is usually more expensive; however, most seniors prefer to use an in-home care agency as they do almost all the required legal paperwork (including payroll taxes and background checks) involved in employing a home health caregiver.

In this article, we’ll share six important steps to finding the in-home care agency that is right for you:

  1. Talk to Your Doctor, Family, and Friends
  2. Assess Your In-Home Care Needs
  3. Know Your Budget
  4. Finding In-Home Care Agencies
  5. Interviewing In-Home Care Agencies
  6. Making the Right Match

Going through the activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living will help pinpoint and define where you need assistance from a caregiver.

Assess In Home Care Needs

Once you’ve spoken to the people you trust and know, it’s time to write down exactly what kind of help you will need, as well as how often you will need assistance with those tasks.

Going through the activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) will help pinpoint and define where you need assistance from a caregiver.

Basic ADLs are self-care tasks that include:

  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Personal hygiene and grooming
  • Bathing and showering
  • Getting dressed
  • Toilet hygiene (using the toilet)
  • Mobility (getting around the home for everyday activity)
  • Eating (self-feeding)

With a tight budget, there may be ways to get some additional funds.

Know your budget

Knowing how much you can afford to pay for caregiving assistance is important to know before you approach an in-home care agency. Explore what sources of money are available to you so you have an idea of how much you can spend on caregiving services.

With a tight budget, there may be ways to get some additional funds. If you have certain medical requirements you may be eligible to get coverage from Medicare, Medicaid, other health insurance, or long-term disability insurance if you have any. Your doctor will be able to confirm this with you when you speak with them. Talk to your family and see if they are able or willing to contribute towards caregiving service costs. They may not have the time or ability to assist directly but can help out financially.

Another potential source of funds you may be able to consider is from selling/downsizing your home or getting a reverse mortgage. In some cases, you may have some savings or be able to cash in a life insurance policy, annuity, or other financial plan.

Regardless of how independent and capable we have been in life, there comes a time when some extra assistance is needed.

Finding In Home Care

Finding an in-home care agency doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, you can get a point in the right direction from the following resources:

  • Referrals From Your Doctor, Friends, or Family Members.
    (word of mouth from someone you trust and know)
  • In-Home Care Directory.
    (many directories exist and can be accessed online with contact information on how to get in-touch with local agencies)
  • Your Area’s Agency on Aging.
    (can tell you about the local senior agencies that specialize in in-home care assistance)

Most agencies will have their representative pay a visit to your home and conduct an interview with you.

Interviewing In Home Care

Now the time has come to speak with some in-home care agencies and see if they can help you to get the in-home care assistance that you what you need.

Most agencies will have their representative pay a visit to your home and conduct an interview with you. They will ask you some questions to find out what type of help you are seeking, of course, but this is your opportunity to ask some questions as well to verify some important things before making a choice.

Here are some guidelines on what to check when interviewing agencies:

  • Guaranteed background checks for in-home care candidates they employ
  • What level of training and experience do their caregivers offer
  • Medical training and licensed candidates if you require medically qualified assistance
  • The agency will take care of payroll, taxes and legal matters regarding when employing a caregiver
  • Availability of caregiver staff (days of the week, holiday coverage, backup staff if needed, live-in services if needed)
  • Financial cost and payments
  • What is the price of services (hourly wages or shift payment)?
  • Payment for holidays, vacation, or sick days?
  • Will you provide food for the care attendant meals or they bring their own food?

A caregiver will be a very significant part of the life of a senior aging at home.

Making the Right Match

An in-home care agency takes on the responsibility for finding a qualified caregiver based on your specific care needs. Now that we’ve established your budget range and what you need from an experienced and skilled caregiver there’s one more thing to check. Indeed, we are talking about true matchmaking. The caregiver and client relationship are not just based on execution of tasks and chores but also one of companionship and trust. A caregiver will be a very significant part of the life of a senior aging at home.  For many the most stable and constant relationship in their later years. That’s precisely why its so vital that you are honest with what you expect from them as well as being honest about your habits and personality.

Here is where a loved one or friend may be able to assist. They may be able to provide the agency with some insight into your personality traits and personal habits. Are you irritable or easy-going, quiet, or talkative, sensitive towards certain smells, allergic to any food types, love animals, etc? Honesty and candidly expressing your likes, dislikes, and pet peeves are very important to share with an agency representative when they are selecting a candidate for your caregiving.

Most caregivers should naturally enjoy helping others and have gone through special training on how to give the proper attention and care to clients. However, you should express your preferences as well.  Language shouldn’t be a barrier so if you need someone that has some working knowledge of your native language you should ask for that. The qualities that are most important in building a good relationship should include patience, perseverance, kindness as well as a friendly disposition.

It will take some time to get to know one another and build trust and mutual respect. Remember that extending kindness, patience, and understanding to the caregiver is something that will go a long way to building a true companionship and even friendship. If you find the caregiver is an ill match you can find another one. The agency is there to mediate and find a solution to any problems, even if it means finding you a replacement caregiver. If they don’t have a suitable replacement then there are other agencies you can contact. Whatever you do, don’t despair. There more and more qualified and skilled caregivers than ever before.