Checking Home Care References – Questions to Ask
Though you might not be sure, it is perfectly fine—recommended, in fact—to ask to be put in touch with willing references for the home care agencies that you are considering. Ideally, you should be able to talk to at least three sources. How to find home care references is covered in more depth in an earlier article (click the linked text).
Once you’ve made the connection to those references, though, what are you going to ask?
When you’re just starting out finding home care, you might not even know what you need to know. To help you get more out of your time and effort, here is a list of topics and questions that you can ask when you talk to references.
Questions to Ask When Searching for Home Care Providers:
How long have you worked with this agency?
What is your general opinion of the agency as a whole?
What is your opinion of the specific caregiver or caregivers assigned to your case?
Were caregivers licensed or certified? Did the position require licensing or certification?
Did you experience a lot of caregiver turnover, or did you have steady providers for the most part?
Were all your needs for types of services met? If you don’t mind answering (and feel free not to), what kinds of services did you require?
Were there necessary services that the agency was not able to provide, either in-house or via partnership and collaboration?
Do you feel the agency administration supported in-home care workers?
Did caregivers ever seem to struggle getting information or needs met by the agency and its administration?
Were non-clinical or non-medical caregivers (such as Certified Nursing Assistants—CNA’s, Personal Care Attendants—PCA’s, or Home Health Aides—HHA’s) overseen by medically skilled providers or administrators (such as by a nurse, nurse case manager, or clinical director)?
Did you ever have a contracted shift go uncovered due to caregiver absence or illness?
Was the agency able to provide care for unexpected or uncontracted times, if the need ever arose?
How well did you think the agency and its staff worked with outside providers?
If the agency or staff needed to communicate with other care providers such as physicians, therapists, or insurers, did you feel they did so in a timely and professional manner? Were they able to work collaboratively and effectively with other involved parties?
What do you think the agency’s/staff’s weaknesses were?
What were the agency’s/staff’s strengths?
Did you feel supported by the agency? As a client? As a family member or advocate?
Was the agency open and communicative regarding care plans and changes to the plan and services?
Were you (the care recipient) or family representatives or advocates included in the development of care plans and services? Do you feel your voice was heard?
Was care regularly documented, and were client, family, and/or advocates given access to that documentation?
Did supervisors regularly visit and oversee the care provided by non-medical staff?
Were changes and modifications handled in a timely manner? Did you find these changes occurred as they should, or did you find you had to place calls and reminders to obtain services?
Were you provided with direct-line contact information for a supervisor or administrator in case of incident or emergency? If you ever needed to exercise that contact, was your call answered or returned promptly?
If an emergency occurred, did you feel it was dealt with properly? Was a plan in place and was it executed?
Were financial matters managed professionally and responsibly? For example, were regular and timely statements of billing provided? If there were questions, were they addressed promptly?
Did you ever feel your or your loved one’s confidentiality and privacy were breached or at risk?
Were there times or circumstances in which you felt the agency went above and beyond in their scope of practice or responsibilities?
Do you have any contractual relationship with this agency or its staff, other than the care that they have provided for you?
Perhaps most importantly, and most telling, is this simple question:
Would you recommend, or have you recommended, this agency, their caregivers, and their staff to others?
Painting a Picture of Good Care
These questions, and any others that you feel are important to you, should paint a good picture of the agency or agencies that you are considering for your or your loved one’s home care.
Do, of course, always be respectful of the privacy of the reference, client, and/or family members. If they decline to answer a question, thank them and respect their right to confidentiality. Recognize that they may have personal reasons to decline to answer, and that that is not necessarily a reflection upon the agency or their staff.
The needs and conditions that bring a family to needing home care can obviously touch on sensitive subjects, but when quality care is provided, those benefitting from that care will often be happy to help another find good home care services. The choice is not one that can be taken lightly, but when you come to the task with good information, well-researched and well-informed, you can feel confident in your decision, and know that you have done the work to find the best home care for you and yours.
Private Home Care Services is a Massachusetts Home Care Agency based in Brookline Mass. providing, services throughout the state. PHCS offers a range of home care services and is experienced in managing many different types of cases. These include home care and companion care for seniors, non-medical home care, and skilled medical care for people with chronic injuries or conditions, injured workers, and catastrophic injuries. For more information or to be put in touch with references, please visit Private Home Care Services on social media or on the web, call, or contact PHCS today. You can also make a referral for friends and family and PHCS will contact you.