About Home Care Providers & Agencies

January 9, 2013

A home health care provider or agency is an entity which can provide a wide range of health and social services delivered at home to persons recovering form an illness or injury, seniors who need help staying at home in a safe manner or persons who are disabled.

Services provided by Home Care Providers:

  • "Skilled services" such as nursing, blood sugar testing, infusion therapy, hospice assistance, social services and therapeutic treatments (physical, speech and occupational therapy).
  • Non-skilled services like helping with bathing, dressing and eating. Companion care services offer respite to the family and help a great deal keeping the senior or patient at home in a familiar environment.

Home care providers/agencies may need to comply with local and federal laws to provide such skilled services. They may also have Registered Nurses, Clinical Nurses, Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and other type of professionals on their payroll or serving as consultants.

Home health providers (or agencies) can be for-profit or not-for-profit. They may be operated by local health agencies, hospitals, or even local health departments. Home health care services can be paid for by the Patient (or family), Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration, or health insurance companies and managed care plans. Medicare home health care consists of skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, aide services, and medical social work provided to beneficiaries in their homes. Contacting your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) or Council on Aging (COA) agency is a great way to get information on home care agencies in your community.

Selecting the Best Homecare Provider/Agency

Take the necessary precautions before selecting a homecare agency or caregiver and use the following tips as a guideline to help find a compassionate, qualified and dedicated homecare provider.

1. Know your needs. Before you make your first phone call, thoroughly consider what your care needs are.

  • Do you need a companion, or someone who can provide hands-on care (i.e. assisting getting in/out of bath, etc.)
  • Do you need assistance with cooking and light housework?
  • Do you need skilled medical assistance for things like blood pressure & blood sugar testing, medication administration, wound care or tube/drain/bag maintenance?

Make sure to paint a realistic picture of the patient’s needs so that the right caregiver match can be made.

2. Interview the home care agency. In order to protect yourself and your loved ones from potential liability, be sure to ask about and consider the following when selecting a homecare agency:

  • What levels of care are available? Are you licensed for medical care or only companion care services?

  • Are your caregivers supervised by an RN? Who conducts the initial assessment before starting each case?

  • Are all caregivers employees that are licensed, bonded, and insured? What happens if a worker is injured in my home?

3. Check for relevant previous experience. Be sure to select an agency that requires relevant previous experience, or has extensive training before allowing caregivers to work alone.

4. Ensure qualifications. Make sure the homecare provider can perform the tasks and responsibilities based on your loved one’s needs. If specialized care is required, make sure the agency is licensed to provide such care and has RNs or specially trained caregivers who can perform your specialized care needs.

5. Make a connection. Certain homecare agencies allow you to interview potential caregivers before committing to one. This provides the opportunity to make sure personalities do not conflict and can also be a great time to inquire about previous experience and background information.