Finding reliable care for your senior family member can be challenging. The many choices include, when to seek care, what’s the best fit for a caregiver—direct hire or through an agency, what’s a fair budget for the services received and what kind of service should be expected? In addition, there are many stories of abuse and inadequate service. So how should you choose? Here are seven tips to help you evaluate your options and make a choice that’s a match for your needs and budget.

  1. Evaluate your needs: Start by thinking about your typical day. What are the activities and challenges of your typical day? Where could you use help? What challenges are there with the activities of daily living? With this perspective, make a list of what’s important to receive help with. This list can then be used to outline a job description for the in-home caregiver that you choose.
  2. Choose private hire or Agency hire: Consider the options of directly hiring the caregiver or working with a senior in-home care agency. Two of the major differences here are costs and management of the senior caregiver. Privately hiring the caregiver usually costs less than working with an in-home care agency. With this choice, you’ll be responsible for vetting the individual, managing the schedule and all IRS related matters. The option to use a senior in-home care agency costs a little more than private hire. This option provides a caregiver for your senior that’s already background checked, drug tested and vetted. Caregiver scheduling and all IRS compliance requirements are also managed by the agency.
  3. Do your due diligence: Starting with a personal referral is always a great option. In addition, an online search will provide options for both the private hire senior caregivers and the agencies providing senior caregivers. Evaluate the choices based on your needs list/job description identified earlier. As mentioned, background checks, drug test, and reviews/references are important. Based on the information you gather, select a handful of senior in-home care agencies/individuals to answer your preliminary questions and potentially schedule a time to talk.
  4. Interview: Prepare questions ahead of your meeting that would provide the information you need. Ask about your specific care needs and how they would be handled. Pay attention to the responses. Also, pay attention to the questions asked by the in-home care agency or private individual: how relevant and comprehensive are the questions? Take plenty notes!   
  5. Discuss your care plan: As you wrap up your conversation, ask for an overview of your potential care plan: how your type of care will be handled. Also, explore how flexible they will be based on your possible changing needs.
  6. Review budget: Discuss what your budget will be based on the level of care selected. Some agencies and individuals have a minimum number of hours per shift or week. Discuss your options. Also, rates are often quoted per hour: discuss what the monthly amount will be based on the hours of service per week, so that there is no sticker shock.
  7. Schedule your start: Based on the information you’ve gathered; you’ll have good information to select your senior in-home caregiver. Once your selection has been made, finalize the care plan, finalize your weekly schedule, and set your start date.