Does it matter whether I hire an independent care assistant or source one through an agency?
Families seeking in-home care for their loved ones are often faced with a bewildering number of choices; in-home care tends to be a lot more flexible than moving into a care home for example, offering different levels of care without long-term commitment.
But with care at home, one major decision you’ll need to make is whether to hire a care assistant through a home care agency or to hire an independent CNA (certified nurse assistant) and HHA (home health aide).
Affordability is one of the primary reasons that families hire a private care assistant, as agency workers tend to be more expensive. A private care assistant independently sets their hourly rate and agrees that directly with the family depending on the nature of the care required. Most families find that privately hired CNAs or HHAs are just as experienced as agency care assistants, but less expensive.
If you’re searching for care at home, this handy list of questions and tips may help you to find the best care provider for your needs.
What background checks do you carry out?
As part of any interview process, anyone working in care should undergo thorough background checks. The care provider will also establish that the care worker has appropriate qualifications and experience.
Can I meet the care worker before they come for the first time?
The relationship you have with your care worker is vital. After the usual checks on qualifications, training and experience, it’s important to know you’ll be able to effectively communicate with your caregiver. This is someone you’ll be inviting into your home on a regular basis and who you’ll be spending a lot of time with, so it’s important to be able to build a rapport.
Good care providers should allow you to meet with your caregiver prior to the care plan starting (there may be a small charge for their time) so you and your family can ask them questions and get to know them a little before they start. Using a platform like Elunow, you’ll also be able to see a profile of each caregiver, see details about their experience, qualifications and read reviews from other satisfied clients, all before you book care.
Will I see the same care worker each time?
Continuity of care is important, but it’s unlikely that any traditional care provider will guarantee the same caregiver will visit every time, primarily because of shift patterns, illness or holidays. It also depends on the nature of the care package, as different care workers sometimes provide different services (for example support with bathing, toileting and dressing, general household cleaning or perhaps nutrition, diet planning and meal preparation). Even live-in carers, who are available 24x7, need rest breaks and holidays. Caring is a hard job.
Is care limited to a single location?
While it is likely to be mainly in the home, having the ability to get out and about on social visits, to shop or for appointments is an important part of any care package. It’s worth checking to see if the caregiver has their own car and has the relevant insurance cover to driving you around.
How will a care plan be developed?
It’s important to find out exactly what care will be provided, and this should be documented in a written care plan. This is important, so that all parties understand exactly what’s needed and how often. For example, is a home visit carried out so that all the person’s relevant care needs, wishes and abilities are well understood. It’s important that the person is comfortable with the in-home care that is going to be provided, so the care plan should include details of all the tasks required of the carer. It should also be regularly reviewed and updated as circumstances change.
Will there be visit reports?
Visit reports are important for several reasons. For family members, they provide peace of mind that care is being provided according to the agreed care plan, and that the person receiving care is being well looked after. But visit reports also provide a reference point for changes to the care plan if they’re needed. Visit reports also provide useful reference notes for healthcare professionals such as GPs or hospital staff, should they be required, for example confirming what mediation was taken at what time or when foods or liquids were last consumed.
How much will care cost?
It’s going to depend on what type of care is needed and how often. If continual care is required, it may well be more cost-effective to employ a live-in carer who will be on hand day or night. But if continual care isn’t necessary, it may be better to book intermittent visits from a caregiver as and when you need them. That could be a few hours each day, or perhaps just a few hours each week. It depends on your circumstances.
Depending on the type of home care provider you opt for, the cost of care will vary but you can usually assume 10 Euro – 15 Euro per hour is about the average. You may qualify for financial support or help from your local authority, so it’s best to begin by contacting your local adult social care team to request a needs assessment so you know what help might be available.
What about problems and emergency procedures?
There are several questions to ask here. What happens if the carer is unable to visit the person on the day they should? What cover is in place? Is there an emergency contact number as well as a clear policy in place? There should also be a well- documented complaints procedure that details how complaints and concerns will be dealt with. Verifying the availability of both the customer support team and the carers themselves is an important consideration.