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What to consider when choosing an in-home care provider

by Kylie Johnson

If you are looking into hiring an in-home care provider here are some things to consider:

Service availability

Home health aide schedules vary between agencies. This can impact affordability and convenience when hiring a service.

  • Home for the holidays: Does the agency offer holiday service? Many elderly people celebrate in their own homes, making it crucial for an assistant to be available during these days.
  • Part-time option: Not all seniors need round-the-clock care, so a part-time option helps keep costs low.
  • Overtime service: Family members responsible for primary care may face a late day at the office, bad traffic or any number of factors that could leave them running late. Be sure that a caregiver can remain on site when a complication arises.
  • Respite care: Family caregivers need breaks from time-to-time to tend to their own needs. Home health aides can fill in so that the care recipient remains safe while the family caregiver is away.

Clear communication

Communication between the family of the senior receiving care and the provider organization is critical to creating a comprehensive schedule of services. Slow response times could leave a senior alone, or put them in danger by delaying reports on issues that could impact their health.

  • Health reporting: How often does the service provider give a comprehensive report about the senior’s continued ability to live alone?
  • Schedule changes: For many people, caring for an elderly parent does not reduce other demands on their time, leaving them to schedule around school plays, nights out with friends and work functions. Flexible and emergency scheduling is a must.
  • Live operators: As effective as voice mail can be, waiting for a call back can be nerve wracking. Make sure your service provider routinely answers the phone, rather than responding to messages.

Provider screening

Any time you let someone into your home, you take a risk. The elderly are particularly at risk, so before inviting someone in, it is important that they pass screening and a background check which should be provided by the agency.

  • Background checks: A credit check and scan of criminal history could provide a sense of security.
  • Reference checks: Reference checks are a quick and easy way to find out whether someone has a history of quality performance, and they are also something that many employers neglect to do.
  • Caregiver interview: Instead of simply assigning someone to a case, it is important to allow the caregiver, senior and their family to meet in an informal environment. Compatibility is a foundation for building trust.

Absentee policies

Everyone needs a day off occasionally, so what happens when a caregiver calls out?

  • Immediate notification: Before sending a replacement, the agency should notify you of the conflict. You might prefer to take some time off rather than have a stranger take on the job.
  • Available replacement: If they have a call out, can the agency send out someone else without missing the service window?
  • Permanent replacement option: While occasional call outs are inevitable, repetitive issues with missed work can be a major issue. It is important to know how many you might deal with from a single provider.


When trying to provide care on a limited budget, the cost can be a major issue. Medicare rarely covers in-home care costs, leaving much of it to be out-of-pocket. You can see what benefits you or your loved one are eligible for by visiting benefits.gov. Long-term care insurance and Medicare supplemental insurance might be viable options to help cover costs.

  • Daily charges: Is there a daily maximum on charges?
  • Hourly charges: Hourly charges can rack up fast, particularly for those that need round-the-clock care.
  • Extra therapy charge: If the primary aide only helps around the house, but is supplemented with a physical therapist or nurse, is there an additional charge for these occasional services? There almost always is.

Article provide by ConsumerAffairs.com

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