How and when to select a quality home care agency are topics that usually pop up only when someone experiences a drastic health change, or family members notice a decline in functioning over time. 

The when to hire a home care agency is usually after a few tell-tale signs; falls, an adult parent getting lost while driving, a parent losing weight and not eating, bills not being paid, medications out of order, calls from neighbors or friends who are sharing concern about the person, a loved one who is isolated and lonely, signs someone is not bathing or is wearing dirty clothes.  Any of those may be warning signs that a home care agency is needed to improved the loved one’s quality of life. 

How to select a home care agency depends on where the care is located.  Each state has different rules regarding licensing and employment regulations.  In California, it’s important to avoid misclassifying caregivers as independent contractors, so hiring a home care agency will help avoid caregiver lawsuits. 

The homecare agency may be accredited and listed on a directory of vetted care providers, it may be a member of the state association which generally means a more compliant and experienced agency, there are also care managers who can help identify a quality home care agency in the area. 

At Home Nursing Care recommends that once a few home care agencies are selected, each should be called.  Family members should select a home care agency where the phone is answered, and the staff members appear polite and caring.  A reputable home care agency will give a general idea of pricing, be wary of those who keep pricing a guarded secret.   Families should also make sure that the employees are full W2 employees, and that the home care agency has worker’s compensation insurance, liability insurance and pays all relevant payroll taxes.  

Be wary of services too inexpensive to be true, they are usually offered by referral agencies that don’t pay payroll taxes and therefore leave the client exposed to employment liability.  At least minimum wage must be paid for all hours worked in California, including overnight hours or sleeping hours on 24 hour cases.  

Once you’ve selected a home care agency, be sure you are regularly updated with supervisory visits.  Also be sure that any questions you have are answered timely and honestly. 

We have 10 Tips for Quality Homecare here, as well as this video which summarizes the points above.