Home care companies often “bond” their employees as a means of covering themselves in case a client reports an instance of caregiver theft. Bonding functions as insurance for the company and provides peace of mind for you. This is not a foolproof method of protecting consumers, but it does serve as an indicator of a company’s commitment to its clients.
Ask if the company has bonded its employees (e.g. companions, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, nurses) and the value at which they are bonded.
Every business should have insurance coverage in place.
Request a copy of the company’s “insurance declaration page” as proof of coverage.
Think about it: If a roofing company comes out to fix your roof, you’re going to want to see their proof of insurance. It is not out of line to ask the same of the company that will be caring for your loved one.
Inquire About Certification and Accreditation
There are various certifications and accreditations that home care agencies and their individual employees can voluntarily pursue. Any agency that has gone through the process of accreditation demonstrates a strong commitment to high quality care.
Ask what certifications and/or accreditations the company and its caregivers hold and who provided them.
Request Information on Caregiver Hiring and Training Procedures
Home care agencies should establish education and credential requirements for their professional caregivers and conduct background checks and drug screenings as part of the hiring process.
Caregiver Training and Education
In most states, there are no education or training requirements for providing nonmedical services, such as companionship, light housekeeping, and transportation for appointments and errands.
When personal care services are added to a caregiver’s responsibilities, they must typically receive some amount of training. Federal home health aide (HHA) standards require a minimum of 75 total classroom and clinical training hours. Some states choose to exceed this minimum training requirement in their examination and certification processes.
Determine what in-house training is provided to the different levels of caregivers within the company and how their proficiency is assessed.
Ask who provides the training.
Find out if your state requires a specific amount of ongoing education and/or workshops each year.
Ask the provider what they require on an ongoing basis as the mandatory minimum to keep their employees’ skills sharp.
Each state sets its own rules for running background checks on health care workers like certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and HHAs. Even in states that do not mandate background checks, many companies will conduct their own statewide or nationwide checks before hiring. Home care companies may also contact their state’s registry to verify the prospective employee’s licensing/certification status and check for existing complaints.
Ask the company how they vet employees.
Are all employees subject to the same standards? (For hospital electric bed example, are office staff members also required to pass a background check?)
Determine if the company runs a nationwide criminal search, countywide search, drug screening, and/or credit check for new employees.
Find out how often drug screening and criminal searches are repeated on existing employees.
Ask About Care Management Procedures
Learn the details of the process the home care company uses to get acquainted with a new client, assign caregivers, begin services and manage their ongoing care.
A care plan is an organized, customizable schedule of services for a client that the company can regulate and family members can follow along with. In states that require home care companies to obtain licenses, care plan development is mandatory for every client.
Ask if the agency creates plans of care, how frequently they are reviewed and updated, and if they conduct regular quality assurance checks.
Be prepared to answer leading questions about the care recipient’s health conditions and daily challenges and needs. This will allow a care coordinator to determine which services would be a good fit and how often they will be needed to improve and maintain the recipient’s quality of life. It is crucial for you to provide as much information as possible and refrain from holding back any details.
Any problems with or alterations to an existing care plan should always be directed to a manager, such as a care coordinator, the head of staffing, or, in the case of smaller home care agencies, the owner.
Ask how the provider handles changes in health and the level of care needed.
Be aware that care plans may vary. Similar to gathering estimates on how to fix a roof leak, one contractor might tell you to patch it, while another will tell you a new roof is needed. Reviewing preliminary care plans from a few different companies should ensure that the providers are offering a similar scope of services to cover your needs.
The initial consultation process also helps the agency determine which caregiver(s) would be the best fit for a client’s situation. During this meeting, it is important to communicate your needs and who you are comfortable with having in your home. Caregiver preferences can be difficult to discuss, but they are an important part of making sure your home care experience is a successful one.
For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, a home care company should narrow down your selection to caregivers who are experienced and trained in dementia care. Furthermore, some clients are more comfortable with caregivers of a specific gender or ethnicity or require someone who speaks a language other than English.
Some companies also offer interviews with selected caregivers after the initial consultation and before services begin. This ensures their skills and personality will be a good match with the person receiving care.