10 Questions to Ask a Caregiver Agency posted on: 09-21-2021

a young woman sitting with her elderly father smiling and laughing while enjoying a cup of coffeeYou’ve made the important decision to move forward with home care to support your loved one. How do you take the next steps?

The first thing to do after deciding on home care is to choose the best agency for the job. To do that properly, you need to know the right questions to ask a caregiver agency. We’ve compiled this list of questions to help you with your search.

In-Person Assessments

Before getting to the questions to ask a caregiver agency, we want to emphasize the importance of in-person assessments in the home. Having a home care representative in the home allows you to “interview” prospective agencies as you ask essential questions about their mission, philosophies, and protocols.

Asking different agencies the same questions means you can compare apples to apples when reviewing answers later on. Listening to their representatives’ responses also allows you to get a feel for each one to determine which agency feels like the best fit for your household culture, needs, and preferences.

We recommend scheduling a free, in-home assessment with at least three separate home care agencies so you can establish a basepoint and make essential comparisons between their answers and approaches to home care.

Questions to Ask a Caregiver Agency

The following is a list of top questions to ask a caregiver agency.

1. Are caregivers insured and bonded?

Proof of license and bonding is the second layer of protection for the client and their families. Home care agencies should provide proof for both.

  • Professional liability insurance. This policy is there to protect the agency and its caregivers in case an employee makes a mistake or the agency fails to provide the contracted services. Their insurance policy pays for their legal fees as well as any damages awarded by a judge or jury.
  • Caregiver bonding insurance. Caregiver bonding insurance provides a sense of assurance that the nature of home care will not be exploited by illegally removing articles of value and that a financial guarantee is in place to support the service level and performance of caregivers.

If an agency cannot provide proof of licensure, liability, and bonding insurance, cross it off the list.

2. Do you run complete background checks?

North River Home Care runs complete criminal background checks on all caregivers, and we update those reports regularly.

These checks help to ensure the safety and security of our agency, employees, and – most significantly – clients and families. Prospective employees must have a spotless report – no exceptions.

Our agency also pulls annual DMV reports and requires that caregivers have a valid driver’s license, adequate insurance, and a registered vehicle in sound condition.

3. Will we have a consistent caregiver?

Providing a consistent caregiver is undeniably best for everyone. We make every effort to ensure the same home aide consistently attends clients. Since that isn’t always possible, we implement a team-oriented approach.

A cohort of home care aides (typically three to four and depending on the length and frequency of shifts) are assigned to each client. That way, every face is a familiar face for the client and family.

4. What happens if a caregiver calls in sick or needs time off?

This is one of the primary reasons home care agencies trump independently contracted caregivers. No one reliant on in-home care wants to see an unfamiliar face.

As mentioned above, North River Home Care utilizes a team-oriented approach. If primary caregivers are ill, have a sick child, or need time off, shifts are covered by one of the other, familiar team members. Clients will never experience gaps in service.

This is very unique. Most private home care agencies work with independent “on-call” caregivers, and you never know who you will get if a primary caregiver isn’t available. As a result of this approach, clients feel their caregivers are an extension of their family network.

5. What level of education and training can we expect from caregivers?

Our agency upholds stringent standards around employee education, training, and continuing education. All are high-school graduates, and most have attended some level of college or university.

Plus, our caregivers and home aides have experience working as CNAs (certified nurse assistants) or they have a home health aide (HHA) certification.

Don’t worry about those just starting out. New hires go through an initial training period, where we cover patient’s rights, hospice training, and hands-on skills training before working one-on-one with a client.

6. Can I change services over time?

Absolutely! Most clients begin using part-time services for companionship, transportation, or housekeeping. These services are expanded or tailored to each client to accommodate wherever they are at the moment.

One of the unique things about our agency’s in-home assessments and approach to continuing care is that we help clients create long-term care plans that align with their goals and values. This service is free of charge and can reduce visits to urgent care or hospitalization because personalized care plans proactively prevent episodes most likely to result in a hospital visit.

7. Do you have a licensed nurse or social worker on staff?

We have both a registered nurse and a social worker on our staff, as well as a Certified Dementia Specialist. It’s important to us – and you – that we always have specialists on hand.

8. What happens if we don’t need services for a particular shift or a week or two at a time?

We can always put a shift or block of shifts on pause. Clients agree to a 48-hour notification window free of charge. Cancellations after the 48-hour mark are billed as usual to respect our employees’ schedules.

9. Are you family-owned or part of a franchise?

We’re family-owned, and that’s one of the things that makes us so special. Our heart-centered home care agency continues to thrive, regardless of corporate competition. We are 100% confident this is due to our personalized quality of care, experience, and commitment to the community.

Questions to Ask a Caregiver Agency Deserve Answers

There are so many things to consider when looking at in-home care for a loved one. Hopefully, these ten questions help you steer the ship in the right direction.

If you’re ready to take the next steps, consider doing so with North River Home Care. Schedule an in-home assessment today. We work with you and those you love.

How to Pay for In-Home Care