Best Home Care Companies for 201824 minute read
24 minute read|
Updated for December, 2018
Aging in place—staying in your own home for as long as possible after retirement—has become a goal for many seniors these days. Not only do many find it more attractive to stay at home among the places and people they know best, many are also finding it a less expensive option than some alternatives, including senior housing and assisted living communities.
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Staying at home is not without its challenges, however. As we age, even familiar surroundings can become difficult to navigate due to mobility and health issues. Friends and family can begin to drift apart, leading to isolation and loneliness. And some health concerns—especially neurological issues like Alzheimer’s and dementia—can leave loved ones with seemingly no alternative to taking the senior out of the house and placing them in a facility.
Fortunately, home care agencies can extend a senior’s ability to live independently, and can make aging in place a viable alternative through every stage of the aging process. Not only can home caregivers provide physical assistance for a variety of everyday activities, they can also boost a senior’s well being by providing transportation, housekeeping help, and essential companionship.
The home care field can seem bewildering at first glance, however, with many agencies operating franchises across the country, and many more local choices available almost anywhere you live. To help you get started finding the home care you need, we’ve surveyed most of the leading national home care agencies and come up with a list of those we recommend.
Best Personal Care
Nurse Next Door
Each home care company has its strengths, and many agencies also provide unique services. Still, it’s always good to know which agency stands above the others in terms of overall quality.
In terms of personal care—the more intensive form of non-medical home care—we’ve chosen Nurse Next Door for this honor: despite the company’s relatively small number of locations, it received some of the highest consumer ratings we’ve seen among companies offering the full range of home care services, with the preponderance of reviewers in online forums praising Nurse Next Door’s caregivers for their compassion, competence, professionalism and reliability. In addition, the company stands out for its Happier Aging program, which aims to reconnect clients with hobbies and pastimes they may have abandoned during the aging process.
Finally, the company’s emphasis on rigorous screening of employees and careful matching of clients with caregivers—combined with a record of employee satisfaction—boost the chances that seniors will be able to rely on on Nurse Next Door for personal care over the long haul.
Why Nurse Next Door?
- Provides specialized Alzheimer’s and dementia care
- Highly rated in online reviews
- Puts potential caregivers through a rigorous screening process
- “Happier Aging” program focuses on mental well-being
“The Senior health care business is NOT like running any other type of business. When dealing with people who are responsible for the care of loved ones, it’s imperative to be prompt, flexible, clear, honest and compassionate. Nurse Next Door gets my highest recommendation for the service and support they provide in all five [of these] areas.”Burbank, CA (via Yelp)
Best for Companion Care
Seniors Helping Seniors
Many people think of home care as dealing with the most personal activities of daily living like eating and toileting. Others see it as something needed only by those with debilitating physical or mental impairments such as heart disease or Alzheimer’s.
Companionship, however, is one of the essential components of home care, and some companies focus on this component in particular. Among these is Seniors Helping Seniors, which gets high ratings and consistently good reviews from customers on consumer review sites. SHS also goes beyond home care to offer services aimed at helping clients age in place successfully, including lawn care, home maintenance, organization, and even pet sitting, all provided by caregivers and others chosen for their compassionate and sympathetic approach to care.
Home care is more than just caring for the physical needs of clients—it’s also making sure that they have the social and lifestyle support they need to stay in their homes. For those looking for these types of help, Seniors Helping Seniors is a highly rated and much praised resource.
Why Seniors Helping Seniors
- Focuses on recruiting seniors for its caregiver positions
- Highly rated in online reviews
- Services include organization help and long-distance check-ins
“I am a young senior who utilizes Seniors Helping Seniors twice a week to help with my grocery shopping and meal prep. They are so thoughtful and help with the menu planning—making enough for me and sometimes visiting grandchildren. The healthier diet has allowed my doctor to reduce my insulin by 50 units a day! I am always well stocked and taken care of!”Charlotte, NC (via Google)
Best for Alzheimer’s and Dementia
Alzheimer’s and dementia can seem like some of the cruelest consequences of aging. A sufferer may be otherwise healthy and happy, and yet memory impairments can threaten their safety and well-being. And even though familiar surroundings can put the sufferer more at ease, it can be difficult for family members to cope with the challenges memory impairment creates.
Many home care companies offer special programs or specially trained caregivers to provide at-home memory care, but Home Instead stands out in this category for a number of reasons. First and foremost, Home Instead puts its caregivers through its proprietary CARE® training program (an acronym for Changing Aging through Research and Education), which prepares them to take a systematic, person-focused approach to Alzheimer’s care which emphasizes the client’s autonomy, but also promotes active engagement, directs the caregiver to adjust care as the disease progresses, and, finally, focuses on family education and support.
Memory impairments can present many challenges for seniors and their loved ones, but Home Instead can help families meet those challenges without forcing seniors out of their homes.
Why Home Instead?
- Grant program subsidizes Alzheimer’s care for families needing financial assistance
- CARE program trains caregivers in all facets of Alzheimer’s care
- Franchises put prospective caregivers through a rigorous screening process
“Excellent care. Caregiver did needed tasks without being asked, which helped given my mother’s dementia. Was very kind and clear in her interactions with my mother. Home Instead immediately contacted me with any concerns about my mother and/or to inform me of something regarding her that they thought I should be aware of. The frequently contacted me for feedback on the care and were always professional.”Bloomington, IN (via Google)
Best for Specialized Care
Home Care Assistance
Aging presents some inevitable challenges by impeding seniors’ ability to see, hear, and move. But illness like COPD and Parkinson’s also become more common as people get older, and these illnesses can also prevent them from successfully aging in place.
Not every company offers specialized assistance to those with health conditions, but Home Care Assistance does, with caregivers prepared to help those with Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and heart disease, and to help those recovering from strokes. Home Care Assistance also stands out for its selectivity in hiring caregivers (which can lead to them rejecting 12 applicants for every hire), its proprietary training programs, and its solid record among online reviewers.
If you or a loved one is dealing with health conditions beyond those related to aging, Home Care Assistance is a strong choice: they can provide the full range of personal and companion care, and tailor to the client’s individual needs as well.
Why Home Care Assistance?
- Care is managed by teams of professionals, and caregiver quality is continually monitored.
- Uses the latest research to guide its approaches to care.
- Some of the most selective screening processes in the industry.
“I wanted to mention how great this home care has been to my parents. My mom was diagnosed with ALS, and she was becoming more disabled. [Home Care Assistance] worked to provide 12 hour/7 day a week care on very short notice so that my mom could stay in her home. This is a highly personal responsive company that cares about their customers.”Colorado Springs, CO (via Facebook)
Best for Pre- and Post- Operative Assistance
We all experience setbacks to our health, but injuries and hospitalizations can pose a real threat to senior’s ability to stay in their home. Still, such setbacks don’t have to be permanent: even when you’re older, expert post-hospitalization care can ensure that you return to your previous quality of life.
Visiting Angels’ Ready-Set-Go Home program stands out in the home care industry because it takes its approach beyond the home. Visiting Angels begins post-operative care in the hospital, where caregivers educate themselves on the care that’s needed and build bridges with the client’s medical team. This approach continues once the client is home: in addition to Visiting Angels’ well-reviewed personal and companion care services, caregivers work to educate the client’s family and loved ones about how they can help recovery, and the things they should look out for as the healing process continues.
If you’re looking for help as you prepare for a hospitalization, Visiting Angels’ Ready-Set-Go Home program is carefully tailored to get you back on the road to health and to prevent
Why Visiting Angels?
- Ready-Set-Go Home program focuses on post-hospitalization care.
- Maintains a special focus on the social aspects of care with a program designed to boost clients’ social engagement.
- Also offers programs tailored to the needs of those with Alzheimer’s and at the end of life
- Can provide continuity through all the stages of aging
“With my mom’s release from the hospital, Visiting Angels was right there providing care from the outset. Without their presence, mom would have gone to a skilled nursing facility which would not have gone well for her. Visiting Angels worked real-time with our constantly updated schedule, and the caretakers provided excellent service. I highly recommend using Visiting Angels.”Manassas, VA (via Google)
Best Transportation Services
Access to transportation is a crucial issue for seniors aging in place. The aging process can deprive seniors of their ability to drive—and once they lose their cars, they can lose the independence that’s such a big part of their quality of life.
Fortunately, many home care companies offer transportation services to their clients. Even so, Comfort Keepers’ transportations services stand out, largely because they’ve started an innovative partnership with the ridesharing service Lyft. Not all seniors can use a smartphone. and many are suspicious of online commerce in general. But Comfort Keepers provides the convenience of ridesharing with a human touch by acting as a middleman—clients who need a ride can get in touch with their local Comfort Keepers office, and the caregivers there handle the rest of the process, including the invoicing.
Seniors aren’t the only ones these days giving up their cars: thanks to ridesharing, many millennials are, too. And thanks to the partnership between Comfort Keepers and Lyft, seniors without cars can get around just as easily as their grandchildren.
Why Comfort Keepers?
- Provides clients with a complimentary home emergency response system
- Also provides clients with its specially designed grandPad mobile device
- In addition to transportation, provides a complete range of home care services
- Provides clients with a specially designed grandPad mobile tablet
Best Travel Companion Services
Most home care agencies offer transportation assistance for errands and medical appointments, but sometimes seniors need to travel farther than their doctor’s office. That’s why, in addition to a full menu of home care services, First Light offers a solution for seniors who need to travel long distance to visit relatives, attend functions with friends and family, or even just for pleasure.
First Light’s travel companion service will send a trained caregiver with the client who can handle check-in and security procedures, luggage transport, and making connections, and manage personal care needs as they arise while also providing essential companionship
If you or a loved one is facing significant challenges in getting from point A to point B, it’s worth contacting your local FirstLight office.
- Offers specialized post-operative care
- Provides friends and family with an online portal to monitor care
- Can offer clients a medical alert system for added security
- Provides an online care management system and an in-home medical alert system
“Excellent care provided from the caregivers. First light really understood our needs and set about to place a caregiver with my loved one who as anticipated what was needed and took care of it. She has become one of the family!”Greenville, SC (via Google)
Best for Concierge/Private Nursing Care
Sometimes assisted living residents discover that they need care that goes beyond what their assisted living facility can offer.
Whether they need additional personal care as they get older or need temporary help as they recover from an injury or procedure, many assisted living residents turn to home care agencies to hire caregivers who can provide them with dedicated, personalized care.
If you or someone you love is in this situation, Senior Helpers’ concierge care program may be a good option—it’s designed for those wanting more help in assisted living and for those desiring temporary support while they move in or recover from a particular health issue.
Why Senior Helpers?
- Provides flexible care options customized to the client
- Provides private duty care for those in assisted living
- Also offers peace-of-mind visits for seniors living alone
“My parents had been together in a memory care facility until my stepdad’s condition deteriorated to the point he needed skilled nursing care, which meant he was moved to a new home . . . My Mom was beside herself worrying if she would ever see him again . . . So we engaged Senior Helpers! The kind caregiver picked Mom up at her residence every Monday afternoon, assisted her to the car, drove her to her husband’s residence, assisted her to his room, allowed her to spend time with the man she loved, then assisted her all the way back to her room in her residence. This weekly visit provided the reassurance to her that she would be able to see him, and she became much less unhappy.”Des Moines, IA (via Google)
Best Monitoring Service
Touching Hearts at Home
Not everyone who needs home care needs the full range of home care services. In fact, many seniors may be fine with only sporadic help. Families and friends can’t be sure of this, however, unless they’re able to check in—and if they live a long way from the senior being cared for, checking in can be a challenge.
For those in this situation, Touching Hearts at Home offers a house monitoring service. Regardless of how much time they’re contracted to spend with the client, Touching Hearts caregivers will routinely check in with loved ones living at a distance to report on the client’s condition, give them updates on what the client has been up to, address safety hazards in the home, and keep an eye on the condition of the home in general—up to and including supervising maintenance, if needed.
If you’re concerned about the well-being of a loved one who lives far away, Wellness Watch may be exactly the right solution. It can also be an economical approach to making better-informed decisions down the road about what, if any, additional care is needed.
Why Touching Hearts at Home?
- Provides caregivers with specialized training in caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Other services include transportation and regular check-ins
- Very highly rated in online forums
“We had Touching Hearts at Home come in and take care of my Grandfather while I was working and my mom was out of town, [The caregiver] was wonderful! She took such good care of him, kept him entertained, well fed, and safe! We couldn’t be happier with them! I loved the caregivers and company so much that now I have the pleasure of working for them!”Ocala, FL (via Facebook)
Best Care Technology
Caring Senior Service
In addition to home care, many agencies are offering some valuable extras these days, including technology designed to make seniors safer at home and to make it easier for families to keep tabs on the care their loved ones are receiving.
Among the companies offering these new approaches, Caring Senior Service stands out for two reasons: first, their Tendio software—available to clients and families through an online portal—gives those involved in a senior’s care the opportunity to monitor it remotely. Through Tendio, families can look over the client’s plan of care, read any notes caregivers recorded of their visits, review their loved one’s care schedule, and message caregivers directly. As if that weren’t enough, Caring Senior Service also provides its clients with a mobile tablet so they can easily access Tendio from their homes as well as video chat with their remote loved ones and enjoy all the other functions a tablet provides.
Mobile technology and the internet have allowed all of us to become more connected than ever before. Through its Tendio portal and its mobile tablet, Caring Senior Service makes it possible for seniors to be connected as well.
Why Caring Senior Service?
- At every level of service, the company charges a single flat rate
- Promises to respond to inquiries on the same day they’re received
- Provides clients and families with an online portal for keeping track of care
- Provides clients with a specially designed mobile tablet
“I ended up using Caring Senior Service of Fresno for my mom, who was very frail and weak. I was worried at first because I don’t even live in Fresno, but when I went back home I received constant updates about my mom. With my mom in their care, she was able to gain some strength back, never missed a doctor appointment, had help around the house, and on top of that, their caregivers took her to do a lot of fun things.”Fresno, CA (via Yelp)
Best for Live-In and 24-Hour Care
Homewell Senior Care
Live-in and 24-hour care may sound alike, but live-in care is for those who need most of their care during the day and just want the security of someone in the house at night, while 24-hour care is for those who need care around the clock.
Homewell Senior Care bills itself specifically as a provider of these types of live-in arrangements, and we chose them as a preferred provider for a number of reasons. First, the company offers a free initial consultation. Second, Homewell also insists on providing flexible care, so if live-in care doesn’t turn out to be the best fit, they have a variety of other options for coverage. The company is also highly reviewed among customers posting online, so they’re likely to give their clients good service. Finally, and most importantly, given the potential costs associated with round-the-clock care, Homewell offers care for couples at the same cost as care for individuals.
If you’re aging in place, but still want all the security and service of assisted living, live-in and 24-hour care are worth looking into. And Homewell’s solid record of satisfied clients and its unique offer to couples living together should put them on your short list of companies to talk to.
Why Homewell Senior Care?
- Provides flexible hourly care
- Offers a free initial consultation to determine care needs
- Highly rated in online forums
- Provides care for couples at the same rates as individuals
“After 6 months of caring for Mom we know we picked the right company, the caregivers have been very compassionate and attentive to Mom. She hasn’t had any falls since starting with Homewell Senior Care, she is eating well and is taking her meds. Not only is Mom doing better, but we are doing much better too knowing Mom is being taken care of so well.”Carlsbad, CA (via Yelp)
Best For End-Of-Life Care
At the end of life, staying among familiar surroundings can become more important than ever. Being at home allows seniors to remain connected with their loved ones and communities, and allows them to derive comfort from the places they know best.
Not every home care agency offers hospice or palliative care, but among those that do, Interim’s hospice programs stand out. Not only do select Interim offices provide assistance for the full range of needs experienced by patients at the end of life, they also offer special care programs for patients dealing with Alzheimer’s and other conditions. In addition, Interim offers some additional services, including pet therapy and support for those dealing with the prospect of losing—or the loss of—a loved one.
End-of-life care isn’t a pleasant thing to anticipate, but with the help of dedicated caregivers, loved ones can meet their final days with dignity and grace. Interim’s end-of-life services can help make this possible.
Why Caring Senior Service?
- Provides additional services related to the end of life such as pet therapy and bereavement support.
- Also provides a full range of home care services
- Offers end-of-life care specifically tailored to those suffering from Alzheimer’s
“It was a very difficult time and the people at Interim Healthcare of Ridgewood made it so much easier. My aunt was completely comfortable and the aide was with her with compassion and care ‘til the end. My everlasting thanks to Interim Healthcare.”Ridgewood, NJ (via SeniorCare.com)
How to Shop for Home Care
Before You Start
Before you shop for home care, you should take time to decide exactly what kind of care you or your loved one needs. Without some detailed knowledge of the client’s care needs, you may be setting yourself up for friction with your home care agency over what needs to be done. Fortunately, describing the your needs, or your loved one’s needs, is relatively simple: ask yourself what kind of help the client is receiving now. As you make a list, you should also familiarize yourself with terms that home care agencies use for different types of care. Get to know the difference between activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), and look at a couple of agency websites to familiarize yourself with the way they define personal care and companion care. Finally, home care is very much about companionship, and before you speak to a company, you should get a sense of how much time you or the prospective client spends alone, and whether you want a companion for some or all of that time.
Do a little window shopping—a smart move is to look at 4-5 companies in your area, and as you search, take note of how they present themselves and whether they advertise any areas of specialization. You may be able to narrow down your choices after spending a little time online.
If you’re seeking care for yourself, talk to your doctor and other health care providers and ask for recommendations; if you’re seeking care for someone else, do the same with their health care providers. Also speak to your friends or your loved one’s peers and see if they have any suggestions. This is important because one of the biggest influences on the quality of your caregiver is the skill and commitment of the local franchise owner, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to assess the local office.
When you do approach a home care agency, you will generally have a preliminary meeting or assessment, either over the phone or in person. When you have this meeting, be sure to ask the local owner or the care manager the following questions:
- How do you screen caregivers?
- Will my caregiver have any special training to address our particular care needs?
- What will you do if we feel our assigned caregiver isn’t a good fit?
- How do you handle no-shows or caregivers who must cancel an assignment?
- What amount of care do you recommend?
- What financial obligations will I take on to start care? Will I have/contracts/prepayments?
- Can you give me references? Can I talk to any current clients?
If you can get references or current clients to talk to, the most important thing is to get a read on the reliability, quality of care, and the professionalism of the caregivers and office staff. Whether you’re the client or just a loved one, you’re going to want to be sure that you’re entering this care partnership with someone you can rely on and who will treat you well.
Because the cost of care often tracks the client’s condition, how much a home care agency charges will likely depend on the type of care you need. For this reason, most locations won’t set an hourly rate until they’ve spoken to you, and often, paid you a visit. When they’ve had a chance to talk to you, however, they should offer a quote based on the care needs you’ve outlined.
There are some useful tools for assessing the rates the company is offering, including the Genworth Cost of Care calculator. But if you’ve done your research and find that a company quoting higher rates than you were expecting, be sure to ask what’s going into their price: it may be that they’re more selective when they hire caregivers, or plan to provide caregivers specially trained to deal with the client’s condition, and it’s important to know this if you’re comparing the rates offered by other companies who might not have the same concerns about quality.
If the cost still seems too high for the care needed, you can always turn to another agency. If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to work with this agency in particular, a local office will sometimes renegotiate if you let them know that cost is an obstacle. You can also reevaluate your care needs and, possibly, ask for less intensive help or for fewer hours than originally planned.
What if things don’t work out?
You’re going to want quality care above everything else. So if there’s a problem with a caregiver, ask the agency to address it. Even if the caregiver is simply a bad fit for you or your loved one in terms of personality, let your agency know. A good agency will usually understand that it can take a couple of trial runs with different caregivers before they find one that “clicks” with a client.
If you’re not the one receiving the care, be sure to monitor the quality of the care that’s being provided. Ask direct questions about the care your loved one is receiving, and keep note of any problems, even if they’re just related to punctuality or personality.
If you decide that the caregivers aren’t the problem, but the agency is, don’t hesitate to change. It can seem like a lot of hassle to have to look into other agencies, especially if you’ve already gone through the selection process. Still, it’s crucial to get the right fit, and the hassle will pay off in added peace of mind.
Finding home care for you or a loved one can be a complex process, but it can also pay off in terms of better health, a better quality of life, and peace of mind for everyone who cares about the senior being looked after. What’s more, a glance at the companies above is enough to see that home care can fulfill a variety of needs, and can often do so in just a few hours of care a week. If you or someone you love is hoping to age in place, be sure to consider home care as you explore your options.