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What to Look for in a Home Care Company
Often families seek out home care services in emergency situations, and don’t always have the time needed to be able to properly vet the home care company before bringing them into their home.  Frequently, families are scrambling to find care after a hospital or rehab stay of a loved one with an unexpected discharge date, or after an illness or recent fall or injury.  If you have the luxury of time on your side, we highly suggest doing your due diligence and research. 

Since we are in the industry, we have seen and heard from families in all different situations.  We have the following recommendations of questions to ask companies you are vetting:
  • Are caregivers your employees or do you contract them? This is very important – if they are hiring the employees that means they have invested in a team, they are paying payroll taxes and vetting their employees, vs. just being the vehicle for employment.
  • How are employees screened? This is a very important question to ask! Many companies contract with 1099 employees, which means that their caregivers are not actually employed by them, which could indicate a separate screening process.  At Happier at Home, all our caregivers are employed by us.  Each employee goes through phone screening and in-person interviews, personal and professional reference checks, criminal background checks, drug screenings, motor vehicle record checks, orientation, and ongoing training. They clock-in using our automated system so that we know our employees are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.  If there is a sick call, you have an entire team at the office who will be working to ensure coverage and care is provided for your loved one.
  • Source of payment: Is the company private-pay, or is health insurance accepted? Make sure you know the answer to this question ahead of time, so you are not blind-sided or surprised by a bill.
  • What types of insurances are carried on employees? Make sure the following insurances are carried on each employee: general liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, disability insurance and bonding insurance. Sometimes families choose to hire private caregivers.  However, when this happens, families, often unknowingly, are opening themselves up to huge risk and liability.  On the whole, private caregivers do not carry insurances, are not bonded, and often are not paying taxes on the money they earn. This opens families up to the risk of tax fraud charges, or worse -  if the private caregiver were ever hurt in the client’s home, they could sue the home owner’s insurance.  In the same vain, for agencies who contract with 1099 caregivers, it is often the responsibility of the contracted person to carry their own insurance, not the agency’s responsibility, so a similar risk could be assumed.
  • What are the minimum required hours per shift? Happier at Home only has a one hour minimum per shift. However, most other agencies have a minimum requirement of at least three hours per shift, and often require a certain number of days per week. Make sure you are clear on this requirement prior to starting care.
  • Are there different rates for evening or overnight care?  Again, Happier at Home charges the same rate whether it is daytime, evening, weekends or overnights.  We understand your family’s needs are unique, and we don’t believe in charging more because of the time of day services may be needed.
  • Employee retention rate: Be sure to ask about their employment style and employee retention rate.  The way they treat their employees is a good indication of how they will treat and serve you and your family.
  • Reference checks: ask if they would be willing to provide you with a list of references of current or past clients. Once you receive the list, be sure to call those references to see what their experience has been.  If the company refuses to provide you with a list of references it should be a red flag.
  • Resources: Be sure to ask what resources they have within the community. For example, do they have relationships with independent or assisted living communities? As your needs change you will want to know they will be able to help you and act as a resource and advocate for your family.
And there you have it – just a few questions we recommend asking in your search for a home care company.  We’d be happy to discuss all of this with you – give us a call to learn more!
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