How to Find Home Care: Questions to Ask Prospective Home Care Agencies
It can be difficult to know where to start when you are looking for home care providers. Your search will start with a list of agencies and providers. Once you narrow down that list, it’s time to contact prospective home care agencies and ask some questions.
But what should you ask?
Here is a list of questions to ask homecare agencies when you are interviewing them.
Questions for Prospective Home Care Providers:
Can you provide me with literature outlining the rights of the client and/or representing family members?
Can you provide us with literature outlining fees, rates, and billing and payment information?
How long has your agency been in business?
How long has the current director/administration been running this agency?
What professional training and certification do your nurses or skilled medical providers have?
What professional training and certification do non-medical caregivers (such as CNA’s, HHA’s, or PCA’s) have?
Do your staff (both medical and non-medical) undergo further training and/or continuing education?
What type of continuing education and training does your staff take part in? Is this in-house training or via a third-party?
What types of support and protections do you provide your staff? (For example, benefits packages, paid time off, liability insurance, written policies…)
Who supervises non-medical staff?
How often are aides and non-medical staff observed and reviewed?
What is the process for filing a grievance against staff if an issue should arise?
What procedures are in place in case of emergency?
What types of home care services are available through your agency?
How far in advance are direct-care workers scheduled? When will we be provided with that schedule?
How will you cover staff call-outs and sick time?
Are you able to provide additional care outside the contracted agreement if the need should arise? (For example, if a family caregiver needs relief or is unexpectedly unavailable, or for vacations, etc.?)
Does your agency have specific experience with, or do you offer specialized types of care? For example, does the agency specialize in elder care, companion care, Alzheimer’s or dementia care, and/or care for chronic illness, post-surgery, hospitalization, or illness, catastrophic care, trauma, or injury?
Have you handled cases similar to ours before?
Can you provide me with a list of services that non-medical staff can provide? What are your CNA’s, HHA’s, and aides allowed to do?
What are examples of things that aides cannot do?
Does your agency offer any other types of services, either directly or in partnership? (For example, case management, supply provision, physical or occupational therapy, etc.)
Is your agency able to provide transportation for the client?
For what purposes can transportation be provided? (Errands, outings, medical appointments, activities, social engagements…?)
If specialty transportation is needed (for example, wheelchair transport), are you able to provide it?
(If insurance is in place to cover care) Do you accept the client’s insurance? Will you bill them directly Who is responsible for payment if the insurer denies claims and coverage?
What is your billing cycle?
When is payment due?
(If private pay) What forms of payment do you accept for private pay?
If I have a question or issue with billing and payment, who should I contact?
Do you have a procedure in place for dispute resolution?
Do you provide any other supports? For example, insurance dispute support or resolution?
How are care plans developed at your agency?
Who is responsible for developing care plans? Are plans developed by medically-skilled personnel? (Nurse, therapist, etc.)
Are physicians and other medical providers and therapists consulted when developing and modifying care plans?
How often are care plans reviewed?
How will care plan modifications be implemented?
Are direct-care staff given a list of duties? Is this for daily care? Weekly? Is each shift provided with its own set of instructions and responsibilities?
What documentation do you require of your non-medical and medical care staff in regard to daily care, client condition, daily tasks, and services provided? How and when is this documentation available to family members?
Who else may be granted access to this documentation? (Insurers? Physicians?)
What is your policy and procedure for ensuring client confidentiality?
When, how, and how often will you communicate with designated family members and/or advocates?
How much input will family/advocates have in the care plan?
Who is our first point of contact at the agency? (Who do we call if we need something?)
Is a supervisor or administrator available 24/7? How do we contact a supervisor after business hours?
Ask for References
Ask the agency for references whom you can contact and ask questions of yourself. You should contact at least three different references for each home care agency you are considering.
Can you provide me with client references whom I can contact? (Yes, this is a perfectly valid question, and the agency should be able to put you in contact with references, either by phone or email. They will have to get permission from the client in advance for reasons of confidentiality, but this is all perfectly acceptable. You can get references from past and present clients or their family.)
Can you provide me with professional references, such as a physician, facility, therapist, home nursing group, or others whom you have worked with or parallel to who will serve as a reference for your agency?
Do you have any community references I can contact? Organizations might include volunteer partners, local chambers of commerce, business or professional groups, or community leaders who have worked with or are familiar with the agency or its primary directors.
Do any of these interests have a contractual obligation or interest with you or your agency?
Get to Know Potential Home Care Providers
These questions will give you a solid overview of the agency or agencies that you are considering for the care of yourself or your loved one. It is worth asking as many (or all) of these questions. Even though some may seem similar, sometimes asking a slightly different question will elicit a different response, or a fuller picture.
Consistency in those responses, a willingness to answer, and the ability of the representative to answer these questions shows that the company is consistent in their policies, plans, and provision of care. Agency interviews combined with good research, reference checks, and follow-up client/family reference checks will help you put together a good picture of the care that will be provided for you or your loved one.
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.