Celebrating 20 years of quality care
How long has the company been in business?
There are a lot of new companies entering the marketplace, many of which have little experience or expertise in the special challenges of running a successful elder care company. The office staff cannot be relied upon as much as those at well-established companies because they themselves experience a high turnover rate. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage because they do not have extensive records of caregiver's past performance, and they often attract those providers who can't get a job at a reputable agency.
How extensive is their insurance and would they mind faxing you a copy of their Certificate of Liability coverage and Worker's Comp carrier info?
Few people like to think about accidents or possible problems at the outset of retaining help, but the fact is lots of people get into accidents every day, whether slip and fall, car accidents, sprained backs, twisted ankles, etc.. Also, from time to time, important things in a client's home can be damaged or disappear through an individual's negligence or dishonesty. The company you want to work with must have extensive insurance, including Professional and General Liability, Non-Owned Auto, a Dishonesty Bond, and Worker's Compensation policies. Believe it or not there are some companies that have minimal insurance coverage and others who have none at all.
How extensive are the company's criminal and background checks?
As you know, there are lots of unscrupulous people out and about looking for work. You don't want them in your home or in the home of someone you love or care about. Therefore you must do business only with companies that provide a criminal background check of each caregiver they dispatch. Because unsavory characters drift around from place to place, it's important that they not only run a check on the last place their candidate worked but all the places they've lived in the last five years, at least. Also ask them if they can provide you with written reference check reports.
Does the company have a Licensed Vocational Nurse or RN on staff?
Most reputable agencies have a licensed nurse on staff to assure that proper protocol is being followed in the care of a client. A trained nurse can help a caregiver identify safety hazards, recognize symptoms, observe special diets, familiarize them with infection control procedures and universal precautions, establish hygiene standards, etc. In most cases, in-home senior care services with a licensed nurse on staff are going the extra mile to provide quality assurance to the services their caregivers provide.
Does the company participate in activities affecting seniors in the communities they serve, and/or on a state or national level?
Leading, reputable home care aide companies almost always take an interest in activities that serve the senior community on a local, state or national level. Companies that produce helpful newsletters, get involved in fund-raising for the underprivileged, or are regularly members of city, state and national associations almost invariably have the best interests of seniors in mind and are usually worth patronizing. So don't be shy about asking about their company's activities and affiliations before deciding which home care service company is for you.
Are any medical/dental benefits offered to the careprovider by the company?
The reason you want to seek out an agency that provides health benefits to their workers is that this benefit helps to assure employee stability. Seniors and their families tend not to like situations where there's a parade of new people coming to take care of them all the time. And good caregivers tend to want to work in those agencies where those benefits are offered or subsidized because they need and deserve them.
What is the company's replacement policy or guarantee?
If you want to avoid getting a lemon, ask about the company's replacement or guarantee policy. In most cases, a good agency will give you as many replacements as needed whenever needed without limitation. For those people wanting a caregiver on a referral basis, wherein you handle the payroll and insurance obligations, you should get at least three months to see if the individual will be suitable to you. Of course, the more the better, but certainly no less than three months.
Are their rates negotiable?
Most agencies have a lot of fixed costs to incorporate into their quoted rates. However, they also know that not all clients have the same ability to pay. Some agencies may be prepared to make a deal. If you're flexible about the age, number of years of experience of the caregiver, or English speaking abilities, perhaps you can get reduced rates. Most agencies come in contact with eager, honest and hardworking caregivers who are anxious to gain experience and English skills. So if money is an issue, this approach may work for you.
Would they mind providing you with some references from current as well as former clients?
It pays to find out if the Agency's clients are satisfied with the services they're getting. Sometimes old references don't reflect current management conditions, so it's best to ask for testimonials from their more recent jobs. Of course, you want to be able to talk with clients who have had a long history with the elder care so that you can get a good sense for how they do business and what you might expect from them.
Can they set up a time to meet and discuss the details of your care needs in your home or office?
It's always a good idea to meet the Agency's principal(s) or representative(s) and to see their setting if possible. It's also good to have them come over to your place so that you can meet them at your convenience. Home care can get expensive, so you want to be sure that the people you'll be dealing with can be relied upon to give you the best service possible. Also, the advantage of going to their office is that you can make some assessments about them which you can't do just by talking on the phone. Are they a boiler room operation or are they organized and corporate? Are they a small company or a large one?
One Flynn Center
Van Ness Ave., Ste. 500
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel.: (415) 776-7337
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