The South Bay is home to dozens of home care agencies, including BrightStar Care of Torrance. Many families have watched companies’ commercials on television or heard advertisements on the radio. Some people have even had hospital workers or doctors refer them to a specific caregiver provider. But with so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which organizations stand apart as exceptional.
Ultimately, families that critically vet all home care contenders will fare well. And this cheat sheet can help folks separate substance from hype!
Service – Caregiver companies, by definition, provide a human-focused product. Families aren’t selecting a smartphone or television based on technological superiority and function but are rather placing trust in an organization’s service and reliability. There’s a huge difference.
Great home care agencies have great “systems” to address changing client needs and potential concerns. Solution-focused representatives and office staff provide accountability to field-based caregivers and nurses and also facilitate communication. If a company’s representative doesn’t sound helpful and knowledgeable on that first inquiry call, families are wise to look elsewhere.
Availability – Some home care shoppers will place a phone call to a local home care agency only to be greeted by a voice mail message. This is especially common after normal business hours. But surprisingly, it can even happen during the middle of the work week. Needless to say, a caregiver company that isn’t responsive to potential new business is even less likely to be accessible to existing clients or patients.
Quality of Care – The quality of a human-focused product, such as caregiver services, can be hard to measure. But there are ways families can identify quality cues prior to signing-on with an agency. Companies that provide top-notch care typically have strong client reviews on Google and elsewhere. They also may have awards/recognitions from third-party organizations. BrightStar Care of Torrance, for example, was recently honored with the Home Care Pulse “Provider of Choice” award for the second year running!
Comprehensive Care – South Bay home care agencies offer varying levels of care, with some being more comprehensive than others. For example, most companies only provide “non-medical” caregivers. But the remaining few, such as BrightStar Care of Torrance, also have registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) on staff.
Some clients only need the assistance of a non-medical caregiver. These folks can help with most “activities of daily living” (ADLs), which include bathing, dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation, and general supervision/companionship.
But other home care clients require licensed nurses for medication administration, injections, catheter care, G-tube care, ventilator care, and other highly-skilled tasks. And non-medical agencies cannot provide these either practically or legally.
Care Management – Torrance home care agencies also have quite different capabilities when it comes to “care management.” Most South Bay caregiver companies provide some level of oversight for quality assurance purposes. However, these tasks are usually performed by representatives without nurse licenses.
So, “care management” for many agencies is more accurately described as “customer service” or “quality assurance.” But there are a handful of home care agencies, such as BrightStar Care of Torrance, that do employ true care management. They rely on licensed registered nurses (RNs) to visit clients and check vital signs, conduct health assessments, reconcile medications, review disease progression, and update care plans.
Risk Mitigation – Families and patients using Torrance home care services face risk on three levels: legal, financial, and physical. Reputable caregiver companies address each of these through adherence to industry best practices, regulations, and common sense. However, as with service and care quality, some agencies stand apart both positively and negatively.
Great agencies not only abide by government regulations, but they voluntarily exceed them. For example, BrightStar Care of Torrance is Joint Commission accredited. Companies are not required to undergo Joint Commission auditing and few caregiver agencies do.
At a minimum, families should only consider agencies that:
- Have liability and workers compensation insurance policies
- Perform nationwide criminal background checks on caregivers
- Verify prior references
- Employ caregivers directly (as opposed to 1099 “freelancers”)
Marketing – All home care agencies invest in sales and marketing activities. But top-notch service and care speaks for itself, and solid companies typically receive many word-of-mouth referrals. Families should never assume flashy marketing campaigns are signs of credibility or quality service.
Companies that don’t back up marketing claims with the previously-addressed substantive traits probably aren’t sufficiently focused on care delivery. And while not always true, companies with too much “flash” might be diverting critical funds away from investments that most benefit the patients.
“Exclusive” Partnerships – In most cases, medical professionals are ethically required to provide “choice” when referring patients to caregiver resources. They also refrain from referring to agencies owned by their family members. And while it’s very common and appropriate for hospital workers, doctors, and nurses to recommend a few trusted organizations, companies usually cannot claim exclusive partnership status.
Families should be leery of any home care organization that overstates its relationship with a hospital or nursing facility. It’s only normal that company representatives will cite community relationships for credibility. But that’s far different than exaggerating or implying exclusivity, which is a red flag.
Agency Size – Large home care companies sometimes have advantages over smaller organizations but not necessarily. And industry veterans know the benefits of agency size only go so far. A company that’s too small may struggle to accommodate clients’ special requests or long-term care (LTC) insurance billing needs. But a company that’s too large often suffers poorer customer service.
In fact, some hospital case managers and social workers are reluctant to refer to agencies that grow “too large too fast.”Proximity is usually more important than agency size, and families should avoid companies without local South Bay offices.
At the end of the day, home care agencies are businesses and must partially invest in marketing and sales. But a caregiver company’s fundamental operating procedures ultimately matter most for patients and loved ones. So, shoppers must be careful not to get distracted by “hype.”
The best Torrance home care agencies will always back up their marketing claims with customer service, and quality care delivery. Families should exercise due diligence when vetting prospective providers, knowing that flashy advertisements and “community partnerships” alone aren’t enough to guarantee great service.
If you’re seeking home care for a loved one, friend, or patient in the South Bay, be sure to all BrightStar Care of Torrance today for a free registered nurse (RN) assessment!