The initial search for home care services, especially personal care and health care, can be a daunting task. You will discover that there are full-service agencies, registries, and independent providers. Which is the best option for you and your loved one? Consider the following issues when hiring an agency, registry, or independent provider.
- Agencies usually come at a higher cost. However, agencies provide prescreened applicants who have already had background checks. Since the caregiver works for the agency, taxes are withheld (unemployment and FICA) and worker’s compensation insurance is in place. Billing can be simpler since you’re paying the agency directly, not the caregiver. The agencie's licensing history is easily accessible. You can also find out if they are bonded for issues such as theft. Agencies typically provide ongoing training for their caregivers. If a caregiver resigns or is not a good match, a replacement can be quickly provided, and coverage may also be provided if a caregiver calls in sick, as caregivers are supervised and actively scheduled.
- Registries and independent providers come at a lower cost, but require careful legwork and attention on your part. Since you will be hiring the caregiver, you need to be aware of any tax and Social Security requirements. Consider background checks and identity verification for the caregiver(s) since there is no independent verification. Training is not typically provided by Registries. In the event of caregiver illness or termination, you are responsible for backup coverage. Meet with the caregiver in person before making your final decision. Even if you are considering these options due to a word of mouth referral, it’s good to be aware of these issues.
Tips for Selecting a Provider
How you go about hiring home care providers will partially depend on what kind of help you are looking for. For example, hiring someone to handle shopping or yard maintenance is different from someone providing hands on or live-in care. However, there are some basic tips to keep in mind. Remember that the more time and homework you spend in the initial hiring process, the better the chances of success.
- Interview several candidates, in person, before hiring. Meeting in person is a great idea before making any decisions. Agencies will typically do a free in-home consultation. Initial interviews before bringing someone to your home can be done in a public place such as a coffee shop. Even if you are working with an agency, it’s important to meet the person who has been matched to make sure it is the right fit.
- If you are working with an agency, make sure you understand what is covered. What exactly is covered in a contract? Are there additional fees that apply to specific services or add-ons? Are there extra fees for weekends and holidays? Is there an additional cost if a caregiver provides transportation? If needed, what are the procedures for termination or requesting another provider?
- Check references carefully. Always check references and ask for multiple testimonials. Listen carefully to the person’s tone and information. Are they enthusiastic about the candidate, or are the answers vague and short?
- Do background checks on top candidates. If you’re working through an agency, background checks are often provided. If you’re considering an independent provider or a caregiver through a Registry, you can check on the Internet, your local police department, legal aid service, or an attorney for referrals to individuals or companies that do this. There is typically a fee associated with background checks.
- Don’t be afraid to move on if it’s not the right fit. It’s especially important that you feel comfortable with your provider, since this person is providing services in the privacy of your own home. If something isn’t working, try talking to the provider to see if a solution can be found. Communication is key; the provider may not be aware of an issue unless it is voiced. Sometimes miscommunication can be ironed out. If not, don’t be afraid to move on and find another provider.
Home Helpers is an agency. All of our caregivers are employees who have been screened, trained, insured and bonded. To learn more, please click HERE.