Questions to Ask a Home Health Care Agency

October 14, 2022
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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Choosing a family caregiver is a big decision needing careful research. The right caregiver should be able to treat your loved ones with the care and dignity they deserve. Ideally, you want a stable presence who will show your family member the same love and careful attention they would give you.

That means finding an agency with a people-focused culture and a mission-based dedication to helping people. Caregiver agencies should be able to find, recruit, train, and develop caregivers who are dedicated to the people they help. The ability to deliver the level of service you want for your loved ones should be a calling — and it can be difficult to decide which agency is right for your needs from a quick phone call or by searching online.

When interviewing a prospective caregiver agency, knowing which questions to ask and preparing them in advance can go a long way toward finding one that will stand out. In addition to finding out if an organization is qualified and equipped to come into your home, it can also help you learn about their approach to dealing with people and how they build rapport.

The following guide can help you get started with thinking about what questions to ask a potential caregiver agency. Whether you use these exact questions, or use them as a starting point to personalize your own, we hope it helps you find the right match for you and your family.

12 Important Questions to Ask a Home Health Care Agency

1. What skills do you look for in caregivers?

Taking care of others should be a calling and the most successful and effective caregivers choose the profession out of a genuine desire to help others.  A caregiver makes people feel comfortable, provides company and comfort, and can ultimately help improve someone’s quality of life. In addition to practical, skills-based training, it’s crucial to have a team of people who are patient, empathetic, and can think quickly on their feet.

Ask about the agency’s hiring process and how they ensure they are hiring the best professionals for the job. In addition, you’ll want assurances that each caregiver has passed a thorough background check to assess reputation, work history, and a clean criminal record.

2. What do you do to retain your staff?

It’s no secret that turnover is a big issue in home health, and this can affect quality and stability of care. Caregiving agencies with high turnover rates can be less equipped to meet the needs of your family, and it can be frustrating for your loved one to get used to a particular person, only to have them leave within a week or two.

This is why you should always ask agencies about their turnover rate, and what they do to keep people on board. While offering competitive pay is a big part of the puzzle, it isn’t everything. Culture and benefits can be just as important. If an agency truly makes their caregivers feel supported and valued, they will be able to attract the best people and keep them.

3. Do you have specialized caregivers?

Just as there are a wide range of health issues and conditions, there are different types of skills that may be required to take care of your loved one. For example, if your loved one is non-verbal or is dealing with dementia, their caregiver should have the necessary knowledge and skill to respond appropriately and recognize signs of complications.

4. Do your caregivers have reliable transportation?

Having reliable transportation is important to ensuring your caregiver arrives at shifts on time. While there is public transportation and ride-sharing, the fact is that these modes can present challenges to people commuting to work, especially in areas that are predominantly car-based. Caregivers with a reliable vehicle will have the best chance of consistently arriving on time. Additionally, caregivers will need reliable transportation to take your loved one to doctor’s appointments if that’s part of your Plan of Care.

5. Is the caregiver physically able to care for your loved one?

Some patients simply need companion care and someone to give them their medications at certain times. Others require a more active physical role from a caregiver, including transferring them between a bed and a wheelchair, helping them go to the bathroom, or taking a bath. The caregiver needs to be physically capable of meeting these needs. The answer to these questions can have an impact on their day-to-day care.

6. What duties, in addition to caregiving, will the caregiver provide?

This is a key part of creating an effective Plan of Care and you want to make sure both sides are clear on what the job entails. Does it include making meals? Helping the patient with personal hygiene? Physical therapy? Taking your loved one to appointments? Light housekeeping? Make a list of every single factor that needs to be taken into account when choosing an agency to care for your loved one.

7. If your loved one requires meals, will the caregiver know what to prepare?

If preparing meals is part of the service agreement, you want to make sure that the caregiver not only has the experience of making good meals, but they are knowledgeable about dietary restrictions. Common issues include food allergies, celiac disease, lactose intolerance, or having to significantly increase caloric intake if your loved one is dealing with a condition such as cystic fibrosis.

8. Will I be able to get the same caregiver every day?

Needing a caregiver at home is often the result of difficult circumstances. Therefore, you want to make things as easy as possible for your loved one. One factor that can contribute to their comfort is being able to see the same caregiver consistently. This allows for fostering a relationship and helps them to form bonds. Children in particular may be more likely to thrive when there is a sense of routine and normalcy when dealing with a health issue.

9. What happens if my caregiver calls in sick or goes on vacation?

Life happens, and caregivers are as human as the rest of us. If someone doesn’t feel well, they will need time off. Caregivers not only need to allow themselves to recover, but it can also mean protecting an immunocompromised patient. You should always ask what policies the caregiving agency has in place to provide a reliable backup. Similarly, you want to make sure you’ll be able to schedule a caregiver for last-minute emergencies. This includes if you have to work late, are in an accident, or need to run a last-minute errand. Ask questions that will help you choose a caregiving company able to provide a trustworthy caregiver on shorter notice.

10. What is your onboarding process for new clients?

If you have decided that a particular agency may be a good fit, it then becomes important to discuss the steps for coming on board and the actual timeframe for starting care visits. After all, if you need a caregiver immediately, but an agency doesn’t have availability for another six weeks, it can cause problems. By asking about current availability, how long it takes to complete any required documentation or paperwork, and other logistical concerns, both parties can build realistic expectations from the beginning.

11. How do you follow up with your clients?

Sometimes, you may need to reach out to the caregiving company to discuss any concerns, or to simply ask a question. But between work, parenting, running errands, and caring for your loved one when the caregiver’s shift ends, it may slip your mind. Having the caregiving company initiate follow-up calls will make things easier for you.

12. What does your company do to keep clients safe during a public health emergency?

COVID-19 turned the world upside down and it will continue to have long-lasting effects for the foreseeable future. Along with changing routines and new ways of working and learning, healthcare organizations have needed to modify their policies to go above and beyond client expectations. Care Options for Kids has put contingency plans in place that follow CDC guidelines for any public health emergency to promote the health and safety of your family. We provide personal protective equipment (PPE), and additional training on infection control practices. Our team is always available and willing to discuss any specific concerns you may have.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Health Care

It can be hard to balance your time between work, home, and caring for a loved one. That’s why our team of professionals at Care Options for Kids is here to help. We have been enforcing precautionary measures and following the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for COVID-19 to ensure the safety and health of our clients and employees.

Our home health care services offer support in the comfort of your home. We refer loving and competent nurses to provide customized care for families — from a few hours a day to around-the-clock supervision. Contact us directly to speak with a home health care professional or request a free in-home assessment. Together we can determine the best plan of action to keep your loved ones happy and healthy.

If you or a loved one are considering home health care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today at (888) 592-5855.