Senior Care News

Home Care Houston: Investigating the Quality of a Home Care Agency

When considering hiring a home care agency to provide senior care services for your parent or another elderly family member when you cannot be present to check in on them yourself, it is important to both examine the organization’s quality standards to ensure that they strive to employ qualified caregivers and provide the highest standard of care, and also verify that they have a history of actually meeting those standards by checking with the State and Better Business Bureau to ascertain if there have been any serious violations or consumer complaints.

Although there are no license requirements at the national level for agencies that provide care at home without a medical component, numerous standards have been developed and accepted by professionals in the field as the recommended minimum requirements that should be met in order to guarantee safe and consistent quality of care. Keeping these in mind, some good questions to ask and quality standards to look for in an agency might include:

1. Caregiver Training, Certification, and Performance: Training varies from agency to agency. When comparing elder care providers, inquire about how rigorous the home care training is, how long workers received training, and the guidelines caregivers are instructed to follow. Are the caregivers certified and how much experience do they have? Is there regular active management and supervision of caregivers for performance and quality control purposes? Is the senior comfortable with the caregiver?

2. License: Question whether or not the agency has acquired a business license and state license to practice and provide senior care services, if required?

3. Employment Status: Look for an agency that hires caregivers as employees rather than as uninsured independent contractors. This guarantees that the agency will take care of any legal requirements, process payroll, and withhold taxes including federal, state, unemployment insurance, Medicare, and Social Security, and employee status also tends to result in greater commitment and investment by the caregiver.

4. Background Checks: For security purposes, all employees should undergo criminal background checks, as well as have personal reference and employment background checks conducted in an attempt to minimize or prevent performance problems.

5. Insurance: To protect your loved one in the event a theft is committed in the household by a home care provider, it is critical to ensure that the agency being considered is “bonded” with Fidelity Bond Insurance. Also, professional liability insurance and Worker’s Compensation insurance will protect against any accidents the caregiver might experience while working in the home.

6. Plan of Care: The agency’s plan of care should be clear and comprehensive, developed based on a thorough assessment of the senior’s needs taking into account their unique situation, their family, safety issues within the home, and any other senior care providers that may be involved, and then outline in detail the services to be provided and costs. The agency should not pass on expenses for any outside services and should not bill for services other than those provided directly by them.

7. 24-Hour On-Call Availability: An agency offering this service can adapt at short notice if there are last-minute unexpected schedule changes or a substitute caregiver is needed. Although the above are only suggested minimum standards and are not all-inclusive, they are a good start to help you select the best agency when you are considering entrusting strangers to provide safe and reliable elder care for your family member.

Whether you need respite care a few hours a week or every day, or 24-hour care to take a vacation, At Your Side Home Care Houston can meet your care needs and provide you with the peace of mind that your loved one is safe and comfortable at home. We also offer exceptional services such as Alzheimer’s Care and New Mom Parenting Help.Contact us today!

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