Once you’ve figured out your needs, it’s time to evaluate what home care services are right for you.

Finding outside providers

  • Start with your networks. Sometimes the best referrals come through family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues. There may be a neighbor interested in brief check-ins or providing yard maintenance, for example. If you’re part of a local church or synagogue, there may be meals or socialization activities available. Ask the people you know if they have care providers they have used and trusted. Your doctor or other healthcare professional may be able to provide referrals as well.
  • Utilize older adult resources. Your local Area Agency on Aging, Eldercare resources, or senior centers are good places to start. For home health care you should check with your doctor or other healthcare professional to get the referral process started, and find out exactly what is covered by insurance.

Agency or independent provider?

As you search for home care services, especially personal care and health care, you will probably start getting referrals from full-service agencies, registries, and independent providers. Which is the best option? Here are some issues to consider when considering an agency, registry, or independent provider.

  • Full-service agencies usually come at a higher cost, which can be substantial. However, agencies also provide prescreened applicants who have already had background checks. Since the caregiver works for the agency, tax issues and billing can be simpler. You can also check the licensing history of agencies and find out if they are bonded for issues such as theft. If a caregiver quits or is not working out, a replacement can be rapidly provided, and coverage may also be provided if a caregiver calls in sick.
  • Registries and independent providers come at a lower cost, but require careful legwork on your part. You need to be aware of any tax and Social Security requirements since in most cases you will be hiring a home care helper as an employee. It’s also good to consider careful background checks and identity verification, since there is no independent verification. You are responsible for backup coverage in case of illness or sudden termination. Even if you are considering these options due to a word of mouth referral, it’s good to be aware of these issues.

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