Sunday, March 23, 2014

In-Home Care Services - Finding the right agency for you.

Good morning all and Happy Sunday!  So, is it the last day of the weekend or the first day of the week?  I've never gotten that straight.  Here is an interesting discussion on Wiki about that.

Today's blog topic is about in-home services and how to find the right agency for you.  When I go to speak with a potential new client for AltaGolden  it is not uncommon for the individual to tell me that they don't think they need much help--and that may be true.  What we usually find after speaking with them is that, in truth, some assistance would be beneficial.  The biggest challenge an older adult may experience in trying to work with an agency is the overselling of services.  An agency that is more concerned about the sale rather than what is best for the client may try to get them to buy more than what is wanted or needed.  Some agencies have daily and/or weekly minimums that force the client into something they don't want and drives up sales.  I've spoken with some agencies that have a 4 hour per day and 12 hour per week minimum required to use their services.  Many clients, however, don't want or need this much help.

So, what are the first steps in finding an agency.  A google search is always a good place to start to find out who is in your area.  Once you find the agencies you want to consider, check them out on the Better Business Bureau site.  The BBB will allow you to look at all of the information about the agency, how long they've been in business, have there been complaints, and are they accredited.  Click here to see AltaGolden's listing as an example.  When I am looking for any business to work with I go to the BBB and I am likely to pick an accredited business over one that is not accredited. I was recently furniture shopping and I looked up the store I visited on the BBB site.  They had a D rating and, needless to say, I will not be buying from them.

Unfortunately I have seen several agencies claim to be "accredited", implying BBB accreditation, but they were not--so always check them out.  There are a lot of great agencies out there but there are some disreputable ones as well.  There are also some scam agencies that claim to offer subscriptions but all they really do is take your money and give nothing in return.

Click here to go to our elder abuse prevention page and read about a real life example a client of ours experienced with a "subscription".

After you find an agency you feel comfortable working with, call them up and ask about their terms of service.  Here are the questions I would ask:
  • Is there a registration or a cancellation fee?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • What are the service minimums?
  • What are the hourly rates?
  • Are there discounts to the rates depending on the number of hours of support?
  • Will my caregiver speak my language? (whether you speak English, Spanish, or Tagalog, you want to know you can effectively communicate your desires)
  • Will I have the same caregiver each time? (employment law does come into play but you want to avoid the caregiver shuffle--a different caregiver each day)
  • How do you manage care planning?
  • Do you take long term care insurance? (if you have this type of insurance)
  • Are you insured, bonded, and accredited by the BBB?
You also want to make sure the agency is giving you a caregiver that is a good personality fit and has the skills, experience, and training/certifications appropriate to your needs.  Someone who is bedridden is going to need a CNA; while someone who needs help with shopping, meal prep, and light housekeeping really just needs a great companion.  You also want to make sure that your caregiver has had the training needed to keep you safe with your ambulation.

Regarding the "caregiver shuffle", consistency of support is important.  We have a client that recently switched to us because the other agency was overselling services and sending in a different caregiver each day. Effective support can only be given if the caregiver knows and understands the client; and this can't happen if a different caregiver is sent in each day.

Let me know if you have questions (you may post them here or call me at work); and don't forget to visit us at AltaGolden (either online or come on into the office).

Tomorrow we'll talk about structuring your in-home services to best meet your needs and budget.  Stay tuned later in the week for discussions on Hospice, Assisted Living, and supporting a loved one with dementia.

Have a great Sunday and a wonderful start to the week!  Be well.  Laura