When your loved one is no longer able to function fully independently at home, it may be time to consider bringing in professional help.

While it is possible to hire a private caregiver for the task, and it may be more cost effective in the short-term, it is strongly recommended that you hire a caregiver through a certified home care agency.

Why You Should Use a Care Agency

The primary reason for hiring a caregiver through a care agency is being assured of the best possible care for your loved one. When your parent’s well-being is at stake, the last thing you want is to save a few bucks at the expense of hiring an inexperienced, under-qualified caregiver who may not be up to the task and who could even put your parent at risk.

Another reason for engaging the services of a caregiver through a care agency is that agency is the employer, not you—which means you won’t have to worry about carrying worker’s compensation insurance, conducting a background check on applicants, managing payroll and taxes, and dealing with a host of other employment-related issues.

Top 10 Considerations When Hiring a Care Agency

Choosing a care agency and caregiver to attend to your parent’s needs in her home is a very personal matter. It’s equally important for your loved one to feel as comfortable as possible to ensure that she’s taken care of and it’s a fit overall. The following list will help you do just that. Keep in mind that this list is not one-size-fits-all; due diligence is required in order to determine that all of your loved one's needs can be met by a particular agency.

Here are the top 10 factors to consider when hiring a care agency.

1. Health Needs

  • Do you accommodate special dietary needs?
  • Do you offer medication management?
  • Do your caregivers have experience working with memory-impaired clients?

2. “Help” Needs

  • What kinds of household tasks can my mom get help with?
  • Can caregivers run errands for my mom?

3. Personal Preferences

  • Do you have a caregiver who matches my mom’s personal preferences (e.g., a nonsmoking female)?

4. Transportation

  • How will the caregiver drive my mom to her appointments? Do you provide a vehicle? Can she drive my mom’s car?
  • Is transportation included in the cost of services?
  • Is transportation covered by insurance?

5. Language

  • Do you have caregivers who speak my parent’s native language fluently?

6. Availability

  • When can I schedule visits? Are nights and weekends available?
  • Is there a minimum or maximum amount of hours I can schedule?
  • Will my parent always have the same caregiver?
  • If the caregiver is sick or doesn’t show up, how long does it take for a new caregiver to arrive?

7. Care Management

  • Do you provide care management services?
  • What is the process for care management?

8. Quality Management

  • How do you monitor your caregivers?
  • How do you track and ensure the quality of my mom’s care?
  • If I have a problem with a caregiver and we can’t resolve it, whom should I contact?

9. Insurance & Liability

  • Are your caregivers bonded and insured?
  • Do you conduct background checks on employees? What is involved?
  • Do you provide professional liability coverage and worker’s compensation?

10. Qualifications

  • What are the qualifications of the staff members who provide hands-on care?
  • Do you provide ongoing training? On what topics and how frequently?

Written by senior care writer Nikki Jong.