Offering residents a chance to age in their own home, home care aides and home health agencies are perfect for seniors who need more support than a family member could provide, but want to maintain a level of comfort and independence. Searching for a home care agency, either for yourself or as a family caregiver, is an important part of the care process; selecting the home care provider that is the best fit for your specific circumstance requires time and research. Understanding the type of care that you can expect is just as important as choosing the home care company itself, and knowing what you or your loved one needs can help you identify the best care option.
When to Consider a Home Care Service
If you are unsure if a home care provider is the best care option for your situation, consider what services you or the older adult in your life need support for the most. Home care companies encompass multiple types of care and a range of services, so evaluating where you need assistance is the first step to making the best decision. If you are serving as a primary caregiver, then consider how often your loved one needs assistance from an outside home care professional. Home care services can offer daily support without your loved one having to adjust to the unfamiliarity of a senior living community. While the comfort of home can help seniors feel independent, you may need to consider a care facility if your loved one is unsafe on their own. Alternatively, if you as a primary caregiver are just looking to keep the senior in your life active during the day, you may consider an adult day program or similar senior care service. You have a range of options at your disposal, and considering them all can help you make an informed decision.
Types of Home Care Services
- Home Health Agency
- Home health agencies are the home care services that offer certified medical care. Often compatible with Medicare or insurance plans, the primary focus of home health agencies is the rehabilitation or treatment of their patients. These care plans are typically overseen by a physician, though a range of nurses, physical therapists, and other medical professionals are often the ones providing in-person assistance to meet a client’s individual needs. Generally, the services offered by a home health agency are not focused on personal care, like grooming or meal preparation, but can be the right fit for individuals who need help managing their health or any medical conditions.
- Private Pay Home Care Agency
- As opposed to home health agencies, which focus on the medical care and treatment of a client, home care agencies focus on helping their clients meet a range of personal care needs. They can help prepare meals, complete light cleaning around the house, and provide transportation for their clients, though the exact services they offer vary by agency. Home care companies focused on personal care services may not be covered by Medicare programs in the same way that a home health agency can be, so they are largely funded by private pay or long-term care insurance with some accepting Medicaid insurance.
- Home Health Aide Registry
- The certification required for an independent home health aide or home care aide varies by state regulation, but most states have a registry of certified home care professionals who do not necessarily work for a particular agency. They may have different licenses based on coursework and training that they’ve completed to be a professional caregiver, which is often viewable by state online. When working with a home health aide registry, make sure to verify how they vet their caregivers and what kind of background check/screening system they use.
- Companion Care
- Some agencies offer companionship rather than personal care. Companion caregivers might not help with grooming or getting ready, but may still help with some chores around the house or by providing transportation to their clients. Their services focus on preventing the loneliness that can come with old age and keeping individuals safe by keeping them company. Companion care often overlaps with home care agencies, but home care agencies tend to offer personal care services that companion caregivers do not.
The Best Home Care Services for Seniors
CareLinx is a service that gives their clients more control over who they choose to employ as a home caregiver. Well-reviewed by former clients, the company has a range of professional caregivers, including some certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and Home Health Aides. CareLinx is a home care agency, meaning their caregivers provide personal care services and can give reminders to help seniors take any medications, but will not administer the medication themselves; thus individuals searching specifically for medical care providers may not have luck with CareLinx. However, individuals looking for a home care agency may appreciate the unique ability to directly choose the caregiver that best fits their lifestyle and needs.
CareLinx performs annual background checks on their employees and recruiters assess their caregivers through individual interviews, reference checks, and a personality assessment. They also verify license and DMV histories, perform drug tests, and offer clients the option to pay for FBI-based fingerprint background checks that identify any criminal history. While you are considered the employer for any caregiver you hire through CareLinx, the agency partners with HomeWork Solutions (HWS), a company that can manage employment taxes on your behalf. The amount you pay is dependent on the caregiver you select, as caregivers with more experience and specialized skills will charge more for their services.
A home care agency with offices worldwide, Comfort Keepers is centered around the mission of providing care while helping seniors maintain their independence. As a home care agency, they focus mostly on personal care services and companion care, but they do employ some private duty nurses who can offer medical care to seniors in their own homes. They also have specialized caregivers for clients who need 24/7 supervision and assistance and for clients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Their care services also include respite and hospice care for adults at the end of their life, post-hospital recuperative care, and will provide care to individuals in senior living facilities.
Comfort Keepers’ employees are subject to background and reference checks, and are specifically selected to be empathetic caregivers. Caregivers are trained with the company’s philosophy in mind; seniors are included in their care process and the activities of daily life as much as they are able to do so. Comfort Keepers operates from several offices throughout the U.S. and internationally, so contacting the office closest to you is the easiest way to get in contact with their caregivers.
SYNERGY HomeCare offers personal care services to their clients with a focus on helping relieve family members acting as caregivers. Their process begins with a free in-home consultation to observe and understand the needs of the individual they are helping. The home care company also offers short-term packages for caregiver relief, offering services for caregivers who need to take a night out or go on an out-of-town visit. SYNERGY HomeCare caregivers can also assist with personal care during rehabilitation or after undergoing hospitalization, but they do not provide medical care themselves. Their expertise may also extend to adapting their client’s home to meet safety needs after a fall or serious medical incident.
Caregivers hired through SYNERGY HomeCare are passed through a background check for criminal records and reference checks. In the case that your caregiver is unavailable, the company will select an immediate replacement so your loved one is never left without care. The cost of care is dependent on the needs of the client they are serving, but the company bills clients weekly and is transparent in any costs for services.
Home Instead Care
Focusing on the quality of care that they provide their clients, Home Instead is a home care agency that operates widely in the United States and internationally. Although Home Instead Care is oriented mainly around offering personal care services, they do employ some registered nurses who can meet the medical needs of clients with chronic conditions. Many CAREgivers are able to support clients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, having been trained to learn more about the individual’s life experiences to build a genuine relationship when approaching care. Care is individualized to the needs of each client which ensures that they are always supported.
Home Instead CAREGivers undergo comprehensive background checks and are screened for empathy; their CAREgivers are also thoroughly trained by the company. Clients and CAREgivers are encouraged to give feedback that can help shape the quality of care and personal approach that each office offers. As the Home Instead system is comprised of individual offices, the cost of care and the services offered may vary by location as well as the services offered in the client’s individual care plan. The company’s philosophy emphasizes that, alongside cost, potential clients should evaluate how the care they receive impacts their quality of life.
- Pexels, Andrea Piacquadio