Choosing In-home Care for Your Parents: The 20 Most Important Questions


According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to almost double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060. Additionally, the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent. Planning for care as we age can be overwhelming as health needs change.

“The stairs are so hard to climb.”
“I don’t have the energy to cook anymore.”
“My eyesight is bad now and I can no longer drive.”
“I have lived here for 50 years and no other place will seem like home.”
“My children are busy with their lives and I do not want to burden them.”

Aging “in place” has unique challenges. Typically seniors have local family and friends that can help fill in the gaps for grocery shopping, physician appointments, and pop-in visits. However, as care needs increase it will be important to choose an in-home home care agency to provide more hands-on care. These agencies have skilled professionals that can assist with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, grocery shopping, driving to doctor appointments and medication reminders. As with most service businesses, these agencies can differ greatly. Here is a list of the 20 most important questions to ask when interviewing an in-home care provider.

  1. How long has this agency been providing home care services?
  2. Is the agency licensed by the state?
  3. What were the deficiencies in the last state survey?
  4. What range of home care services does the agency provide?
  5. How are the hourly rates determined, and is there an increase in the rate for overnight or weekend care?
  6. Is there a minimum number of hours daily or weekly?
  7. Will you provide references of current and past clients?
  8. How does this provider select and train its employees?
  9. Does it perform background checks on staff? What background findings will eliminate a caregiver from employment with your agency?
  10. Does the agency have written personnel policies and insurance covering care in my home?
    • You’re more likely to get a committed and dedicated aide when the company selects its staff carefully and supports them with the proper policies, protections, and incentives. The extent of the background check varies from state to state.
  11. Who provides the in-home assessment before starting care?
  12. Do they have RN’s on staff?
  13. How is the plan of care developed?
  14. How are staff notified of changes in the care plan?
  15. Does the provider assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care that clients are receiving in their homes? If so, how often do these individuals make visits? What are the credentials of the supervisors?
  16. How does the agency follow up on and resolve problems?
    • This helps ensure that the caregivers are performing the services correctly, and responding to the care recipient’s changing needs.
  17. What are the financial procedures of the agency? How often will you receive a bill?
  18. What procedures does the provider have in place to handle emergencies?
  19. How do they manage call-outs/late caregivers?
  20. Are its caregivers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
    • Not all home care agencies are available 24 hours a day or guarantee replacement coverage if the assigned aide is unable to come.

It is important to take the time to interview the care providers and compare answers. But remember that in most cases, the sales representative that you meet in your living room will not be the care provider in your home.

At Blue Water Homecare, you will meet an RN in your home for evaluation and to answer all of these questions. We encourage you to contact us if you’d like to learn more.

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