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Selecting a Caregiver from an Agency

When a Loved One Needs Hospice Care
Once you have a list of promising agencies, arrange a consultation. AARP has a checklist of important questions to ask before signing a home health contract.

Selecting a Caregiver from an Agency for a loved one is an important task that requires research and thoughtful consideration on the family’s part. Part One of AARP’s recent article entitled “How to Hire a Caregiver” explains that when you have a list of promising agencies, you should always schedule a consultation. If you are already working with an estate planning or elder law attorney firm like Beck, Lenox & Stolzer, they usually have recommendations of agencies to contact.

A clarification is needed for those who may not understand the difference between a home health care agency and a private duty agency.  A home health care agency delivers nursing care, therapy services, along with limited personal care for the patient in the home. It must be ordered by a doctor so that Medicare or your own health insurance will pay for it.  A private duty home care agency almost exclusively provides non-nursing care such as assisting with a bath or shower, helping the patient get dressed, get meals, etc.  As the name implies, the patient or family usually pays for those services from their own funds or from long-term care insurance.

This article focuses on home health agencies. Anyone looking for this type of care can look on Medicare’s site at  Home Health Compare , to help find and research home health agencies in your area. It provides detailed information on what services they provide and how patients rate them.

Selecting a caregiver from an agency has its pros and cons. The pluses include the following:

  • Background checks. Caregivers must pass a background check.
  • Experienced caregivers. Agencies are likely to have a number of caregivers who cared for other seniors with the illness or condition affecting your loved one.
  • Backup care. If the primary aide is sick or doesn’t work out, an agency typically can quickly find a replacement.
  • Liability protection in the event that a caregiver is injured while at the home.
  • No paperwork. The agency takes a fee, pays the aide and does the payroll and taxes.

Here are some of the corresponding minuses of working with an agency:

  • Greater expense. You’ll pay more for an agency-provided caregiver.
  • Little choice. The agency chooses the worker, and he or she may not fit well with you or your family member.
  • Negotiation is limited, and individuals are generally more flexible about duties, hours and overtime than agencies.
  • There are agencies that don’t permit a part-time schedule.

In addition, as mentioned at the start of the article, you can contact an experienced elder law attorney like the ones at Beck, Lenox & Stolzer and ask for recommendations.

Reference: AARP (Sep. 27, 2021) “How to Hire a Caregiver”


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