Hiring in-home care can be confusing and complicated, as anyone who has ever gone through the process can tell you. Many believe that working with a home care agency is safer than hiring an independent caregiver – and for good reason. Training, liability coverage, replacement caregivers, and billing are all issues that may make it preferable to work with an agency. Additionally, it’s easy to assume that the agency has taken care of a fair amount of prerequisites, such as drug screenings, competency tests, and background checks. Unfortunately, a new research study by a group of physicians and researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine uncovered that many home care agencies are not properly screening and supervising their caregivers, putting the safety of the client at risk. While it may be true that working with an agency provides more support than dealing with an independent caregiver, the report reveals that there is still reason to be on high alert and complete your own due diligence, even when working with an established organization.
The report outlines 10 recommended questions to ask agencies before hiring a caregiver:
- How do you recruit caregivers, and what are your hiring requirements?
- What types of screening are performed on caregivers before you hire them?
- Are they certified in CPR or do they have any health-related training?
- Are the caregivers insured and bonded through your agency?
- What competencies are expected of the caregiver you send to the home?
- How do you assess what the caregiver is capable of doing?
- What is your policy on providing a substitute caregiver in the event a regular caregiver cannot provide the contracted services?
- If there is any dissatisfaction with a particular caregiver, can he or she be replaced “without cause”?
- Does the agency provide a supervisor to evaluate the quality of home care on a regular basis? How frequently?
- Does supervision occur over the telephone, through progress reports, or in person at the home of the older adult?
The full report and findings, Hiring and Screening Practices of Agencies Supplying Paid Caregivers to Older Adults,can be found in the July issue of the Journal of American Geriatrics Society.
In light of this study, we reflect on the practices in our own home care program. Methodist Senior Home Care is proud to be a member of the National Private Duty Association (NPDA), an organization which develops best practices for hiring, training and managing caregivers. Along with other agencies represented by NPDA, we hold our caregivers to the high standards outlined in this report.
Lindquist, LA, et al. Hiring and Screening Practices of Agencies Supplying Paid Caregivers to Older Adults. Journal of American Geriatrics Society, 2012.
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