It’s rarely easy to find the perfect senior care agency, but you can greatly improve your odds of success by asking the right questions. The answers you receive will help you evaluate which agency offers the best fit for the needs of your loved one. While not every question has a right answer, there is a right way to answer a question – and that’s in a way that inspires confidence.
Once you’ve narrowed your prospects to the top three or four agencies, here are some questions to ask them:
- How long has this agency been in business?
- Can the agency provide references?
- Is the agency licensed by the state?
- Is the agency Medicare certified?
If the agency is established, and can provide solid references (which you’ll need to check), then you’re off to a good start. A state license is a plus, even if it isn’t a requirement in your state; you can see what the senior care licensing requirements are in your particular state by visiting here.
You can verify if an agency is certified by Medicare by visiting Medicare.gov. Note that not all senior care is eligible for Medicare coverage. But if you are receiving covered care, and want that care to be paid for, you’ll need to be working with a certified agency.
Next, you’ll want answers that give you confidence in their caregivers. Start with these questions:
- How does the agency select and train its caregivers?
- Does the agency perform background checks on potential caregivers?
A background check should be a bare minimum requirement for any potential caregiver or agency; so should training of some sort. But the extent of training and the selection process itself will (and should) vary depending on the type of care being provided.
Seniors who require nursing, therapy, or medical care will have greater training requirements than those who require some help with errands or cleaning. If the desired care is non-medical, other factors may be more important than extensive training. At Seniors Helping Seniors, for example, the personalities of potential caregivers are evaluated; their goal is to find caregivers who will make excellent companions.
Finally, you’ll want to consider what kind of service you want or need. Are you concerned about financial clarity? Ask about how expenses are itemized and whether statements are provided. Do you want to have an active role in determining what senior care is provided? Ask if (and how) the agency involves family in the planning process. Are you concerned about emergencies? Ask about the process for dealing with them.
Life will be much better for your senior loved one when you find an agency that can provide reliable, effective, and friendly care. So ask the right questions – and hold out for an agency that has the right answers.