If you’ve never been through the experience of finding a homecare provider for yourself or a loved one before, you may feel like you’re a little in the dark. You may not know where to look or how to even start the process. Don’t worry; this is a challenge many seniors and their family members face. It’s vital that you choose someone trustworthy – someone you’re comfortable trusting with your health and in your home.
When you’re searching for a home healthcare provider, you have three basic options: get word-of-mouth recommendations, use a referral agency, or partner with a homecare provider network. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of these options.
Do you have a friend or family member who has recently searched for and gotten help from a homecare professional? If you trust your connection’s opinion, you may want to ask for a recommendation on the professional they used. Through a referral, you’ll be sure that the caregiver you choose comes highly recommended by someone you know and trust.
On the other hand, there are a few reasons why you may not want to venture down the personal referral path. There’s a chance the person you know did not need the same level or type of support that you need. Maybe this elderly homecare professional was perfect for your friend who has recently been diagnosed with dementia, but maybe they’re not the best option for someone who needs transportation services or someone with whom they can run errands.
Also, these professionals are often independent caregivers, someone your friend found through connections like church or through a friend of a friend. While independent elderly homecare services often come with the benefit of a lower price tag, they also don't have some of the protections that agencies provide.
Many agencies run background checks to vouch for their elderly homecare provider’s credentials and credibility. Additionally, if you independently employ a care provider, you have to treat them like any other employee. This means paying taxes, providing vacation and sick leave, and even ensuring you have adequate insurance to cover any injuries in the event they are harmed while on the job in your home. In the long run, you may end up paying much more for an independent caregiver than one represented by an agency or organization.
One of the biggest issues you’ll encounter with referral agencies is the lack of uniformity. Some perform background checks, while others do not. Some states require referral agencies to have a license, while others do not. You will likely find that it is difficult to find an agency that gathers all the information from candidates that you want. So, you may end up conducting a background check on your own.
Referral agencies don’t act as employers. They’re simply the referring party that connects homecare providers with potential clients. Then, once a homecare provider is hired, the agency collects a referral fee. Similar to the challenges of hiring an independent caregiver, you should also invest in insurance to cover any potential injury, or work out the specifics of their employment.
The best way to think of a referral agency is as a list of independent providers you can hire, with the added referral fee on top of the care expense. While it offers the immediacy of having a list of candidates handed to you, you still have to do the legwork to ensure these are high-quality candidates.
Traditional Homecare Agency
Traditional homecare agencies employ a staff of caregivers. Patients contact the agency and the agency sends someone from their team to your home. These agencies are the employers, which means they interview, screen, hire, and train their caregivers.
How does this differ from a registry? Think of a registry as a list of independent contractors. The registry simply acts as a middleman, connecting self-employed caregivers with clients. Homecare agencies, instead, are the employers for the caregivers, and as the employer, agencies are responsible for insurance and ongoing management of the caregivers. This makes it easier to find qualified care. For example, the agencies conduct background checks prior to bringing on a care provider, so you avoid the cost and hassle.
One of the drawbacks to using a homecare agency is that they typically require seniors to pay for a four-hour minimum care visit, even if you don’t need four hours of care.
Care Provider Network
This model brings homecare agencies together, connecting their caregivers with clients. You have numerous caregivers to choose from in your area, which maximizes the chances you’ll find the right option for your needs. A care provider network, like CaringOnDemand, takes many of the burdens associated with referrals, registries, and agencies off your shoulders.
CaringOnDemand only partners with agencies that are licensed, bonded, and insured. This means if a caregiver is injured on the job, in your home, you’re not responsible for the costs. The agency has insurance to cover any potential injury. Bonding is also important, as this covers any loss of your property due to theft that could occur.
Agencies also verify that their caregivers are fully trained and qualified to provide you with home healthcare services. You don’t have to worry about falsified credentials or a lack of references. The agency can verify all training and provide the references you need to ensure you’re comfortable with the caregiver being in your home.
While all three options have their merits, the best way to ensure you’re trusting with your health to the right care provider is to partner with an agency network. The process of finding the perfect caregiver for your needs doesn’t have to be a daunting one. When you choose an agency network, you’ll feel confident in your caregiver choice.