Questions to ask when choosing a home care agency


Recently the Eagle Tribune published a list of important questions to ask before choosing a private-pay home care agency.  HomeCare, Inc., one of the largest, not-for-profit home care agencies in the region, is pleased to answer those questions to demonstrate how remarkably we measure up.  Remember, you have a choice in home care agencies… so choose the best.


1.  How long has the agency provided home services?

HomeCare, Inc. is an affiliate agency of Home Health VNA and Merrimack Valley Hospice.  The agency was founded in 1895 and has been providing services in patient homes for 117 years.   Home Health VNA, Merrimack Valley Hospice and HomeCare, Inc. form a full continuum of home health and hospice care in 90 cities and towns in the Merrimack Valley, Northeastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.


2.  How does the agency recruit, screen and train its workers?

All aides are recruited through usual media advertising.  Potential employees undergo an extensive screening process including one or more interviews, both written and skills testing, verification of training and certification, a criminal background check and Department of Public Health registry check.  All potential employees must also have a minimum of 2 references. Upon hire, all new aides complete a one week orientation (with preceptor oversight) before working independently in the home.


3.  Is the agency bonded?  Does it have dishonesty or malpractice insurance?

HomeCare, Inc. is fully insured with general and professional liability insurance.  We also carry fiduciary liability insurance.


4.  Will the agency provide references from people who have used the services?

HomeCare, Inc. has an extensive list of references from clients and family members who have relied on our services for many years.   In addition, professional references include those from Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, local councils on aging, hospitals, nursing homes, churches and other elder service agencies in our service area.


5.  Does the agency assign supervisors to oversee the quality of care that patients receive in their homes?

All home care aides are supervised by nurses who oversee the care plan of each client.  Aides are supervised weekly their first month of employment, monthly during the first quarter of employment and quarterly or as needed thereafter.  Nurse supervisors meet the aide in the home of the client and provide direct observation of all services provided to ensure the highest quality care delivered skillfully and with the utmost respect.  Unlike other agencies, HomeCare, Inc. has on-call services 24/7 for patient or family concerns.  All concerns from clients or families receive prompt and thorough attention and investigation.


6.   If you are dissatisfied with the caregiver, will the agency send someone else?  If so, how soon?

With 220 home health aides, HomeCare, Inc. makes every attempt to match clients with aides they think will be compatible.  Occasionally the match does not turn out as perfectly as we hoped.  In that case we immediately assign another aide.  Depending on the needs of the client, the new aide could be at the home within an hour, or for the next scheduled appointment.


7.  Can the agency provide a written plan of care that explains the service to be performed, days it will provide care and fees to be charged?  Are there extra charges for holidays, travel or supervision?

A written plan of care is developed by a HomeCare, Inc. registered nurse and presented to the client or family for approval.  The plan of care includes all services to be performed, the daily schedule and all fees to be charged.  There are no extra charges for supervision but there may be additional charges for 6 of the major holidays such as Christmas and New Years and for client related errands and transportation.  For example, we would charge usual and customary mileage for an aide to go from the client’s home to the grocery store and back.  All fees are explained and agreed upon in advance.


8.  What happens if the aide calls in sick?

Sickness happens in any profession, but with a large pool of aides, when one or more call out because of sickness we have others available as back up.  Our scheduling supervisors have years of experience and ensure that every client receives the services they have scheduled on time.   


9.  Will the agency always send the same aide?

The scheduling supervisors always strive for consistency and usually send the same aide to the client.  In this way the aides become familiar with the clients personality, routine, and ability. Sometimes, due to schedule changes for sickness or vacations, or because of the frequency of services, it is necessary to send more than one aide to provide scheduled services to the client. 


10.  Is the agency accredited by the Home Care Alliance?

HomeCare, Inc. is accredited by the Joint Commission. An independent, not-for-profit organization, the Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting rigorous performance standards.  Overall, very few agencies seek this level of inspection.  No other private duty home care agency in this region is Joint Commission certified.

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