Does it matter whether I book an independent care service provider or source one through an agency?
Families seeking in-home care for their loved ones are often faced with a bewildering number of choices; in-home care tends to be a lot more flexible than moving into a care home, for example, offering different levels of care without a long-term commitment.
But with care at home, one major decision you’ll need to make is whether to find a care provider through a home care agency or to book an independent CNA (certified nurse assistant) and HHA (home health aide).
Affordability is one of the primary reasons that families tend to hire private care providers, as agency workers tend to be more expensive. Private care provider independently sets their hourly rate and agrees that directly with the family depending on the nature of the care required. Most families find that privately found CNAs or HHAs are just as experienced as agency care assistants, but less expensive.
If you’re searching for care at home, this handy list of questions and tips may help you to find the best care provider for your needs.
As part of any interview process, anyone working in care should undergo thorough background checks. The care provider will also establish that the care services offering person has appropriate qualifications and experience.
The relationship you have with your service provider is vital. After the usual checks on qualifications, training, and experience, it’s important to know you’ll be able to effectively communicate with your service provider. This is someone you’ll be inviting into your home on a regular basis and who you’ll be spending a lot of time with, so it’s important to be able to build a rapport.
Good care agency should allow you to meet with your caregiver prior to the care plan starting (there may be a small charge for their time) so you and your family can ask them questions and get to know them a little before they start. Using a platform like Elunow, you’ll also be able to see a profile of each service provider, see details about their experience, qualifications and read reviews from other satisfied clients, all before you book care.
Continuity of care is important, but it’s unlikely that any traditional care agency will guarantee the same service provider will visit every time, primarily because of shift patterns, illness, or holidays. It also depends on the nature of the care package, as different service providers sometimes provide different services (for example support with bathing, toileting, and dressing, general household cleaning, or perhaps nutrition, diet planning, and meal preparation). Even live-in services providers, who are available 24×7, need rest breaks and holidays. Caring is a hard job.
While it is likely to be mainly in the home, having the ability to get out and about on social visits, to shop, or for appointments is an important part of any person’s needs. It’s worth checking to see if the service provider has added the outdoor assistance to their list.
It’s important to find out exactly what care will be provided, and this should be documented in a written care plan. This is important so that all parties understand exactly what’s needed and how often. For example, is a home visit carried out so that all the person’s relevant care needs, wishes, and abilities are well understood. It’s important that the person is comfortable with the in-home care that is going to be provided, so the care plan should include details of all the tasks required of the service provider. It should also be regularly reviewed and updated as circumstances change.
Visit reports are important for several reasons. For family members, they provide peace of mind that care is being provided according to the agreed care plan and that the person receiving care is being well looked after. But visit reports also provide a reference point for changes to the care plan if they’re needed. Visit reports also provide useful reference notes for healthcare professionals such as GPs or hospital staff, should they be required, for example confirming what mediation was taken at what time or when foods or liquids were last consumed.
It’s going to depend on what type of care is needed and how often. If continual care is required, it may well be more cost-effective to employ a live-in service provider who will be on hand day or night. But if continual care isn’t necessary, it may be better to book intermittent visits from a Home Health Aide as and when you need them. That could be a few hours each day, or perhaps just a few hours each week. It depends on your circumstances.
Depending on the type of home care provider you opt for, the cost of care will vary but you can usually assume 30$ – 40$ per hour is about the average. You may qualify for financial support or help from your local authority, so it’s best to begin by contacting your local adult social care team to request a needs assessment so you know what help might be available.
There are several questions to ask here. What happens if the Home Health Aide is unable to visit the person on the day they should? What cover is in place? Is there an emergency contact number as well as a clear policy in place? There should also be a well-documented complaints procedure that details how complaints and concerns will be dealt with. Verifying the availability of both the customer support team and the Home Health Aides themselves is an important consideration.
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