Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our Email Newsletter
For Email Newsletters you can trust

INDEPENDENT AGING > Home Care > Home Care 6

   Important Information to Know About Private Home Care Agencies

Do you need to hire private pay home health care? Important information for you to know before doing so……

Massachusetts does not regulate private pay home care agencies; therefore, anyone can open a private pay agency, and hire anyone they want to be “caregivers”. It is important that you ask the following questions when choosing a private pay home care agency:

Who owns/manages the agency? It is important that you know who the principle owner and/or manager is of a private pay agency. Do they have a background in healthcare? And if so, what is it, and how long have they been in the healthcare field? Ask what their experience is and make sure you feel comfortable with their experience before doing business with them. You wouldn’t buy legal advice from someone who is not a lawyer or legal representative? Would you?

How long have they been in business? You want to deal with someone who has been in business or at least in the field of home health care, healthcare or nursing for a substantial amount of time. If they have only been in business for less than 5 years, but has 20 years of healthcare background, or other customer service background – you may feel that is OK.

Does the agency have professional liability insurance? Also known as Errors and Omissions insurance, Professional Liability insurance protects the employer from potentially catastrophic litigation caused by charges of professional negligence or failure to perform professional duties. This might include errors and omissions resulting in claims of non-performance, negligent oversell or physical harm or potential harm to you or your loved ones. You need to protect yourself and your loved ones from any liability incidents that may occur while you are contracting their services. This is a must. You also have the right to request a copy of their Certificate of Liability.

Does the agency provide Workers Compensation to their employees? You want the agency you are dealing with to provide workers compensation insurance to their employees to protect your assets if an employee is hurt while under providing the contracted services requested.

Are the employees Bonded? Companies that Bond their employees, insures you’ll get reimbursed in a timely manner if one of their employees steal from you, and are convicted of it. Companies that do not bond their employees, still may repay you in the event of a proven theft from their employee, but it is not guaranteed and could be timely, or not happen at all.

Does the agency employ Registered Nurses for Supervision and Case Management? There are several reasons you want a Registered Nurse working for the agency you contract for services:

Comprehensive Client Evaluation: They should offer to send a nurse out to you to evaluate your needs, so they can match your needs to the appropriate caregiver.

Case Management: The nurse should be assigned to you for case management including liaison between you (client) and physician(s), as requested and as necessary. Depending on the amount of services you require, you should be assigned a nurse case manager.

Supervision of Staff: Having a Nurse on-staff that is supervising the home health aides is very important. When you have a Nurse supervising, the nurse is responsible for all non-professionals that are working under their license. The supervision of staff should include quarterly in-home evaluations and yearly skills evaluation.

Are their Home Health Aides CERTIFIED? Again, Massachusetts does not regulate private pay home care agencies – therefore, some agencies will hire individuals that may have experience, but have NOT gone through a State approved Home Health Aide course. You want home health aides that HAVE gone through a State approved course. No exceptions. If you do NOT require personal care, a Homemaker/Companion may be offered. Homemakers and Companions are not required to go through a course.

Does the agency perform background checks? Ask them and let them explain the background checks that they perform. They should include:

Employment History: Verify where they have worked according to their application for employment

Professional Work References: Verbal or written reference checks should be done on at least two (2) of their prior work history. Those references should prove to be at least satisfactory.

Criminal Background Check: Any reputable agency can apply and be approved to have access to the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB), and be able to access the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) from the State of Massachusetts. (A plus is if they also have access to the National Criminal History Systems Board).

Skills Check: Does the agency check the skills of their new hires, and again on an annual basis? They should. This should be performed by a nurse on staff.

When choosing a Private Pay Home Care Agency, make sure you ask these questions. Expect the best service for your money. It is not only important for your safety, but for your personal well-being.