You have arrived here because you have arrived at the conclusion that home care is the right solution for you or your loved one. And yet, you still have questions:
Who are the best home care agencies in you area? Are there websites where I can read family review? When I search “Home Care Cary,” hundreds of agencies come up. How do I choose?
The good news is there are websites that provide ratings on home care and we will share those with you. Still, it’s a challenging process to review and select a home care agency. Tim went through this process five years ago when securing home care for his mother Emily. Based on this experience, we wrote a blog with recommendations on how to evaluate a home care agency: “15 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Home Care Agency for Your Loved One.”
We recommend creating your own custom list of factors by which to rate your agencies. Use a simple scoring system of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). Rate each category and total the score (visit our website under our Circle of Support/Downloads to use a simple spreadsheet we created for this purpose).
Make a short list of your top three and call each one, starting with your first choice. How the agency talks to you on the phone is going to be the closer. Typically, when people call us they look no further. Why? Because we don’t have salespeople. Our goal is to help. We want to understand the challenges you’re going through to assess not only how we can help, but also how some of our good partners can. If we feel you can be helped by a service such as home health, hospice, or in-home food preparation, we will recommend it. We feel tremendous joy when clients find the services that fit their needs – whether we provide the care or not. We constantly get compliments from people about our approach.
Below is a summary of recommended categories to rank your agencies and score them.
- Reviews by families: Based on your review of our recommended industry rating sites, rate the agencies on your short list.
- Awards: Has the agency won any awards? Give a high rating to ones that have. This is validation that they are doing things right.
- What’s their story? Why are they in home care? Is it personal? Or are they just another franchise? You can tell a lot about the people you are going to trust with the care for your loved one by understanding why they are in this industry. Their website should tell their story. If they have no story, you may find that if you go with them you are just another number.
- Depth of services: Rate the agency on how comprehensive their services are. Do they cover everything you need? Do they cover even more than you need so that you can stay with them longer? Aware Senior Care scores high here because we are one of the few home care agencies that also has a skilled nursing license to provide in-home nurse care.
- Are they team players? You will find in the world of home care it takes a village to care for families. Look at their website to learn whether they are working with other great people in the community. We call our village the “Circle of Support.” Give high marks to agencies that recognize and embrace the village concept.
- Communication with clients: It should be your expectation that great agencies are also great communicators. Do they have a newsletter, both email and print? Do they make announcements? The more communication they provide, the higher the mark. When you call them, ask them how they communicate with clients and families. Do they spot check their caregivers? Is there an online family portal so you can remotely access the care plan and send emails to the care team?
- How do they screen and hire professional caregivers? You may not be able to get this information from a website but if you can, it’s a plus. This a very important factor in quality home care. You will want the best caregiver for your loved one. What is the agency doing to hire the best? Aware Senior Care has an extensive screening process which includes phone and in-person interviews, drug tests, and an extensive state and criminal background check. Give high marks to the agencies that are all over this.
- How do you retain and take care of good caregivers? Why should this be on your list? Over the years we’ve had clients switch to us because their agency sends a parade of caregivers and at some point they are frustrated enough to finds another agency. An agency with a high turnover rate is one you should avoid. Frankly, our top priority is taking care of our caregivers because if they feel the love, their love goes right to our clients. As evidence of our high retention, we were awarded Employer of Choice from our industry’s leading home care survey and review site, Home Care Pulse. When you call the agency, ask them about their caregiver retention rate. We track ours monthly. It is currently averaging 80%, which puts us in the top fifth percentile in our industry. We like talking about our caregivers and apparently they like talking about us, too!
- How much do their services cost? Obviously this is an important question to ask because you need to assess your ability to finance care. This is not going to be published on an agency site, so you will need to call. Frankly, this should be at the bottom of the evaluation criteria. It’s only important because of the financial assessment of the care plan, not in selecting the agency. Why? Well, as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” You will find we are priced slightly higher in the market because our caregivers are in the upper fifth percentile in compensation. Frankly, they deserve more. Taking care of our caregivers is a priority.
- What are their caregivers saying? Is this important? What does it say about an organization when their employees say they like working there? It speaks volumes. We mentioned our recent award from Home Care Pulse – 2018 Employer of Choice. We all feel that this is the best award and highest compliment. When you review a home care site, see if they publish any caregiver reviews. If you know about recruiting sites such as www.indeed.com, check out caregivers who have left reviews. If you can’t find any caregiver reviews or testimonials, it’s a red flag, as they may have a corresponding high caregiver turnover.
- How do they answer the phone? You can tell a lot about an organization by how they handle your initial query. Find additional tips in this blog. Put a lot of emphasis on this one in your evaluation.
- Do they have professional references? This is the icing on the cake. If you find the home care agency has professional testimonials from healthcare professionals, including doctors, that’s a big plus. Our nurses and care staff have a deep understanding of medical wellness which is critical to understanding the overall holistic wellness of your loved one.
- Do they have case studies? This is another “icing on the cake” criteria. Often, home care takes on difficult cases, with people suffering from chronic illness, ALS, Aphasia, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s. We publish case studies about what we have learned. some of the case studies detail our partnerships with home health, hospice, the Dementia Alliance of NC, and the Triangle Aphasia Project, Unlimited, to name a few. Case studies validate that the agency can understand your needs if you have a loved one suffering from an illness or disability.
- How involved is the agency in the community? Why should you consider this in your evaluation? We think giving back to the community by donating time and educating people about home care speaks volumes about an agency’s owners and staff. The “Aware Senior Care Gives Back” portion of our website is dedicated to community projects and it gives you a feel for our volunteer work, charitable donations, and the seminars we hold at churches, senior centers, and over 55 communities.
- Do they provide Veterans assistance? Gina and Tim have a soft spot in our hearts for our veterans. Gina’s father Andy served in World War II as an Army scientist working on the Manhattan project. Tim’s father served briefly in the Air Force post WWII and his stepdad Jack Doyle was a naval officer during WWII. Tim served in the US Navy as a submarine officer on the USS Groton Nuclear Submarine SSN-694. In 2017, Aware Senior Care was honored to be approved for the Veteran Administration Veterans Choice Program. We can provide care to veterans directly or under contract from the VA.