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Choosing a Home Care Agency
By: Cindy Lee, LSW
Choosing a Home Care Agency for a loved one can be as difficult a choosing the right Nursing Home. Your loved one may not be in need of a nursing home placement at this particular time, but is in need of some assistance while he/she remains at home. As children, spouses or significant other of those who are requiring assistance at home, you feel the pangs of guilt that you can not fulfill this need. It is at this time, when you are most vulnerable and anxious, that you are searching for a health care agency. With HMOs on the rise, hospital stays shorter in length and increased restrictions on nursing home placement, more of you will be utilizing these home care agencies.

Some of the home care agencies have received negative attention lately due to mishandled cases, abusive situations, and theft. There is no perfect formula for choosing the best health care agency for your situation, but there are ten questions you need to ask when choosing an agency. Remember, that although the care by family could never be replaced, the agency you choose is a critical piece of the overall recovery and well-being of your loved one when you canít be there.

The following ten questions have been designed to assist you in your search and acquisition of a health care agency you can be comfortable with and trust.

  1. Are they reliable? They should have a reputation for reliability built on an ability to provide a variety of skilled staff in many specialized areas.
  2. How do they assign their staff? Ideally, they would custom match their staff to the various assignments and clients.
  3. How fast and dependable are they? A dependable agency will initiate the process immediately upon the request of service.
  4. How do they recruit staff? An agency should have competitive benefits, bonus advantages, and work advancements to attract the most qualified professionals in the health care industry.
  5. What health care professionals do they employ? They should employ a wide range of professionals including: RNS, LPNs, Certified Nursing Assistants, Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, Homemakers, Physical Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, and Social Workers.
  6. How do they select their clients? Their selection process should include an in-depth intake process of a health assessment, medication review, therapies required, social issues, medical treatments, and any involvement by others outside of the agency.
  7. How often and at what times will they visit? The actual total hours of care are calculated on an as needed basis. Each client, and their specific needs, are looked at, and hours per day per week is calculated. They will set their times of day in cooperation with the client and their specific needs.
  8. How is the agency insured? The agency should have comprehensive insurance policies to cover each health care professional, including malpractice, general liability coverage, fidelity bonding, and workerís compensation for injury.
  9. What is their reputation for the quality of their work? The agency , upon request, should supply you with a copy of their quality improvement program. This program ensures that the agency is meeting federal, state, local, and professional standards set by law. Also important is the accreditation of JCAHO.
  10. Are they committed to satisfying their clients? The agency should have available a satisfaction report, based on surveys conducted at the conclusion of services. They should be committed to complete satisfaction and a willingness to work with you to resolve any concerns.


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