There are a number of risks involved with hiring and managing home care on your own. When you choose to hire a private caregiver for you or your loved one, the risks that are normally assumed and managed by a home care agency become yours. This can open you and your loved one up to issues of liability, and to issues of safety and wellbeing for the care recipient.
Working with a quality, professional home care services agency not only affords you peace of mind, but it affords you and your loved one protection, too. There are several areas in which this is true.
7 Ways Home Care Agencies Protect You and Yours
1. Vetting employees and caregivers.
An agency will know how to properly and thoroughly vet potential caregivers. They will check references and previous employment, certifications, background checks, criminal records databases, to name a few. The agency will also stay up to date with these checks and may perform such ongoing checks as drug testing.
2. Professional skills assessment and training.
A home care agency will have the professional knowledge and skills to assess professional skills and abilities of caregivers. Looking through the lens of experience and knowledge of the job, agency supervisors and administrators will know what the job entails. They’ll know what tasks caregivers are and are not allowed to perform, what professional certifications the job requires, what governmental body issues licensure, and where to look to ensure that licenses and certifications are valid and up to date. Many agencies require and provide ongoing professional development, too.
In short, agency personnel will know if the candidate really has the knowledge and skills needed to perform the job, and if they are doing that job well.
3. Ongoing oversight, job performance, and assessment.
Even the best employees require oversight and assessment. Oversight is as much to highlight the good as it is to uncover the bad. Really, oversight and assessment are necessary to ensure continued high standards of quality care, and to ensure that the care is appropriate in terms of the client’s needs. A good home care company will make this part of their routine and services.
Oversight and assessment include legally maintaining employment records as required by law and by company policy, including disciplinary records and actions if needed. Improper performance of this aspect of hiring a caregiver can leave you and yours in a position of liability in terms of client (care receiver) safety, employee safety, and employer obligation.
4. Payroll and tax obligations.
Similarly, payroll and tax obligations can be quite complex and require a professional level of knowledge and compliance. If not properly handled, both the employer and the employee can experience negative consequences. Obligations exist on both federal and state levels, and it is important to know what your responsibilities are as employer and payor. When care is provided through a home care agency, these are the responsibility of the agency. The liability is theirs.
5. Handling and investigation of allegations and accusations.
This covers allegations or accusations of things such as abuse and neglect, exploitation, theft, and mistreatment. Sadly, these can be issues in the home care setting, much as they can be in a facility or in any workplace environment.
Ideally, careful attention to background checks, training, licensing, and criminal records will prevent this from being an issue, but as news headlines clearly prove, allegations and accusations (both true and false), do exist. Complaints can come from caregivers/employees or from clients/care recipients. They may be lodged against the client/care recipient or against visitors, family members, or you as the employer if you choose to manage home care on your own.
A good home care agency will have policies and procedures in place and will be ready to deal with accusations promptly, efficiently, and honestly. They will know what the next steps are following the allegations, and will take them.
6. Scheduling and schedule coverage.
Scheduling and care coverage are one of the most difficult aspects of hiring caregivers. Whereas an agency will have a pool of caregivers to draw from to provide coverage, it is more difficult for family and client employers to be able to maintain enough of a caregiver base to cover all the hours needed. You may think that a single caregiver will be enough, but what happens when that employee calls in sick or needs to take personal time, or simply does not show up for a shift? Single and short shifts are often harder to fill than full time positions when you only have a few hours to offer a caregiver.
7. Ongoing client oversight and care plan assessment.
Of course, what’s most important in home care is the care and wellbeing of the client, the care recipient. Having trustworthy, skilled, caring employees to provide that care is the first step, but there is more to the story. By hiring a quality home care agency, you will have several layers of care that start with the caregiver and go up through the levels of supervision and assessment. This includes assessment of the care, the care plan, and the implementation of that plan. It also includes adjustments and updates as care and services progress and as client health and abilities improve or change.
With a home care agency, you will have an on-site caregiver providing care who reports daily and weekly to their supervisor (ideally, a medically trained nurse or skilled medical care provider), and a Clinical Director with additional administrative supports. Together, this team will put many eyes on the care of you or your loved one and work with outside providers (such as therapists and physicians) to ensure the highest level of care and the best possible outcomes.
Home Care Agencies Limit Personal Liability and Responsibilities
For all the reasons listed here and more, the best way to manage home care is in partnership with a proven, quality home care agency. The landscape of employment today is one that comes with its own challenges and liabilities. At best these make private hiring and employment stressful and time-consuming to maintain; at worst they can put you and yours in tenuous positions. Be sure that you are truly prepared to navigate this landscape if you do decide to manage home care privately on your own, and that you are also prepared for the unexpected.