Selecting the right home health care provider can be a daunting task. There are many agencies to choose from and the decision can seem overwhelming. Knowing the right initial questions to ask can mean the difference between choosing a top quality agency and choosing a poor one. Arm yourself with the following key questions:
(1) Does the agency conduct background checks on its caregivers and verify their nursing credentials? --- Ask them to describe the process. How often do these checks occur?
Different agencies have different standards on what constitutes a thorough background check. Some agencies have rigorous standards, while some agencies find caregivers through sites like Craigslist and do not conduct background checks whatsoever. Obviously, you should have complete peace-of-mind before bringing a caregiver into your or your loved one's home, so this question is of the utmost importance.
(2) What is the agency's level of accreditation?
Ask about accreditation from non-profit Medical Standards Organizations like The Joint Commission, C.H.A.P. or C.A.H.C. Obtaining these certifications means the agency has voluntarily met a high standard of care and business practices. These achievements are often used as benchmarks, determining whether or not the agency will be able to accept Medicaid.
(3) Is the agency licensed, bonded and insured?
Being licensed, bonded, and insured means that the agency (and its employees) are covered should any liability issues arise. This is a MUST-HAVE for any trustworthy agency.
(4) Can I change my caregiver for any reason?
Most agencies will try to accommodate you as best they can. However, be 100% sure that you are able to change caregivers should any incompatibility issues arise. Bringing someone into your home is a delicate endeavor, so the ability to be selective is key.
(5) What sort of supervision/additional training will my Home Heath Aide receive?
Ideally, Certified Home Health Aides should be supervised by a professional nurse (R.N.). Ask if a nurse is on-call 24/7 to answer any questions and solve any problems that should arise. In addition, ask about additional training for home care professionals. Reputable agencies will conduct regular training sessions with staff on the newest technologies in care, new protocol, etc.
(6) Can you point me towards some references?
When choosing a Home Health Care Agency, be sure to ask for references from other patients and nurses. A reputable agency will gladly provide you with contact information of people who will vouch for their quality of service.
(7) Do you have a minimum number of hours per week?
Many agencies set a minimum number of hours of care required. A common minimum is 9 hours per week. Other agencies have no minimum. If there is no minimum, be sure to ask how the pricing structure is set up for low-hour cases.
(8) Do you complete the necessary legal paperwork?
Most agencies will complete legal paperwork for the patient, but this is not always the case. When finding a nurse independently, the patient or their family must prepare documentation to pay an employee.
(9) Will I have the same caregiver on a consistent basis?
Some agencies emphasize continuity of care, while others seem to have a revolving door policy. Be sure to find out if you or your loved one will regularly receive the same caregiver(s).
(10) What are the official credentials of your caregivers?
Not all agencies require caregivers to have nursing licenses/certificates. Ask about the certifications of the agency's caregivers. Are they Certified Home Health Aides, R.N.s, L.P.N.s?