Consumer Guide: Home Care & Assistance

Home Care & Assistance (Custodial/Non-Medical Only)

When it comes to finding home care and assistance for yourself or a loved one, it can be overwhelming to navigate the many options and providers available. While there are many reputable and high-quality home care companies out there, unfortunately there are also some that are unscrupulous or inexperienced. To make sure you get the best possible care and support, it’s important to do your research and choose a provider that meets your needs and standards.

In this consumer guide, industry experts offer some tips and insights on how to find a reliable and trustworthy home care and assistance company, as well as what to look for and what to avoid when working with a provider. Remember, always refer to your State’s Department of Aging for helpful information regarding medical-based home care.

Tips From the Experts: Key Factors to Consider When Hiring a Home Care Agency

Note: Any item listed with an asterisk (*) below is a NAOSA Gold Standard of Professional Practice™ and is required for NAOSA professional membership. For more details, please visit the NAOSA Consumer Guides page.

Make sure the agency is licensed, bonded and insured*

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a home care and assistance company is whether they are licensed and certified by the state or other relevant authorities. This is a requirement of all NAOSA members. These designations can provide important assurances that the provider meets certain standards of quality and safety, and has the necessary training and expertise to provide the care you need. Ask for copies of all the above, they should be readily available.

Insist on a thorough employee screening process and criminal background checks*

Make sure that the caregivers and staff who will be working with you or your loved one have been properly screened and do not pose any safety risks. Home care providers should conduct thorough background checks on their employees, including criminal history checks, to ensure that they meet certain safety and trustworthiness standards. When researching potential providers, be sure to ask about their background check policies and procedures, and make sure that you feel comfortable with the level of screening they provide. If a provider is not forthcoming about their background check policies or does not conduct thorough checks, this may be a red flag and you may want to consider other options.

Make sure the agency assumes liability*

NAOSA member agencies are required to assume the risk for actions on behalf of employees and caregivers with both professional liability insurance and general liability insurance. If not using a NAOSA member agency, be sure to ask about the employment status of caregivers of agencies. Status may either be an actual employee of the company or an independent contractor. If a caregiver is an independent contractor, the home care company may not be liable for negligence caused by the caregiver, making it extremely difficult for one to recover damages if harmed.

Note: This is an important consideration if a consumer decides to hire a caregiver directly as opposed to using an agency. Careful consideration should be made as to the issue of liability and one should fully understand this risk before making this important decision.

Ask about the agencies complaint policy*

Freedom to complain without fear of retaliation from a caregiver is extremely important. At times, clients will be unhappy for a variety of reasons but feel a complaint could jeopardize the quality of future care or even harmful retaliation. Therefore, it is important that home care agencies offer a clear complaint policy offering anonymity for the client as well as other measures to ensure client safety. Doing so will assist in the quality of care and help deliver peace of mind for clients and their families.

Check references and reviews

Before choosing a provider, ask for references from current or former clients and check online reviews and ratings. This can give you valuable insights into the provider's reputation and quality of care.

Consider the cost and payment options

Home care can be expensive, so it's important to understand the provider's fees and payment options upfront. Look for a provider that is transparent about their costs and can work with you to create a payment plan that fits your budget. Be sure to ask about multiple hour discounts as well.

Ask about staff training and supervision

The best home care providers have rigorous training and supervision programs for their staff, to ensure that caregivers are knowledgeable, compassionate, and reliable. Ask about the provider's training and supervision processes to make sure you feel comfortable with the level of oversight and support they offer.

Ask about communication of caregiver unavailability

Caregivers may call in sick at times and have other issues that prohibit them from going to work that day. Ask about the agency's policies in contacting clients in these cases and sending a replacement caregiver that is suitable for your or your loved one's needs.

Are you a professional in the home care and assistance field?
We welcome your constructive input to assist in the protection of all consumers. Please contact us.

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NAOSA requires members to act in utmost good faith when working with clients. Members must agree to act in a fiduciary manner in a way that the member reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client. In addition to compliance with all federal and state regulations, each professional member of the National Association of Senior Advocates must also follow and act in accordance with the NAOSA Consumer Guides published herein.  Members who are found not in compliance with these standards will be censured, with membership subject to revocation.


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