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Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Help Unlimited Offers Five Tips for Choosing an In-Home Assisted-Living Program

Choice of caregiver is among the most important decisions you can make for your parent

Hiring an in-home caregiver for your elderly parents should give you peace of mind, but too often it opens the door to a world of worry about everything from missed medications to elder abuse. Many agencies send out caregivers with little to no experience and don’t do the proper background screening — they may not even be legally able to work. Yet, this is the person you are paying to come into your elderly parent’s home on a daily basis.

It is possible to find well-trained and reliable caregivers who will truly enrich your senior’s life, but you need to know how to find them. Here are the five things to look for in an in-home assisted-living program in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Long-Term Experience and Great Reputation

An agency that has been around for decades has likely seen every kind of situation possible and knows how to handle any situation that might arise. Choosing an established agency also gives you the confidence that you can assume good things because the agency has been serving the same communities for all those years. Ask representatives how many years they’ve been in business and what they do to help the greater communities they serve. Some of the best ones offer educational seminars and get involved in other ways. To find out more about the agency’s reputation, ask around at local hospitals and other institutions and businesses that serve the elderly.

Home Care Agency Is the Employer

Ask the home care agency directly who pays the caregivers it sends out. Does the agency pay worker’s compensation insurance on the caregiver? Does it withhold and pay Social Security on the caregiver? If the agency doesn’t do these things, take it as a warning sign: it means the caregiver is not their employee. In that case, the senior homeowner or his or her children could be liable for taxes, penalties and all the liabilities associated with having an employee.

Look for Value, Don’t Shop on Price

If an agency is offering you rock-bottom prices, it most likely is able to do so because it is paying caregivers rock-bottom wages. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and if they aren’t paying a decent wage to the caregiver, they may not be able to offer you the best caregivers.

Process to Match the Caregiver to the Senior

An agency is only as good as the caregiver it sends to your senior. Part of being a great home care agency is being a really great matchmaker. Some situations, such as with Alzheimer’s or other conditions, require training and experience. The agency should take the time to get to know you and your parent to be sure to send a caregiver who will enrich their lives and give the best care possible. The agency should do personality and skills check as standard procedure. It should also do reference checks and regular criminal background checks. Look for an agency that hires only qualified, experienced caregivers and is willing and detailed when discussing its screening process.

Personalized Care

Some companies take a cookie-cutter approach to care for the seniors in their programs, but the truth is that every senior and every situation is unique. Look for an agency that is not only focused on taking care of physical needs but also takes the time to get to know the senior and listen to them about what makes them happy. A caregiver that enriches a senior’s life is one who is willing to go the extra mile to help that senior be as independent and happy as possible.

Your elder parent is too important to risk on an inadequate home care programs. Find a program that matches these guidelines, and you can ensure you will find the best care possible.

Click here for more information about Help Unlimited or to find the right home care agency for your elder parent, or call 805.962.4646.

— Leeana McNeilley is director at Help Unlimited.

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