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How to Hire the Right Home Health Aide

Hiring a home health aide can be an overwhelming process. After all, older adults are not only dearly important to the people who love them, but are also more vulnerable than the rest of the population. There are some steps you can take, however, to make the most informed and beneficial decision. The following tips will help you smoothly navigate the process in order find the right home health aide for your particular needs.

Determining the Type of Care You Need

Before you can hone in on a home care agency and an individual home health aide, you must first identify the type of home care services needed. There are two primary types: Home Health Agencies provide skilled care, which covers medical needs and Home Care Agencies provide custodial care, which covers “environmental assistances,” such as help with personal care and hygiene as well as routine domestic tasks, including meal preparation, shopping, and housekeeping.

Most experts recommend finding a home health aide through an agency. Why? Because not only are the candidates vetted by the agency, but the agency is also accountable for their performance if you have any issues, and will provide a replacement if your choice isn't working out.

Not all agencies are created equally, though: while some offer both skilled and custodial care, others provide only one or the other.

Finding Home Health and Home Care Agencies

There are many resources available to help you locate home health or home care agencies. In addition to your doctor, nurse, hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation center, your state's department of health, aging and social services or local Area Agency on Aging may also maintain a list of accredited home care agencies.

Additionally, the National Association for Home Care maintains a database of more than 30,000 home care agencies and hospices country-wide. Friends, family members, and neighbors are also great sources for finding reputable home care agencies in your area.

Once you've amassed a list of potential home health agencies, whittle it down by visiting their websites for information on services offered and fees.

ALSO READ: How Telemedicine is Affecting Home Health Care

Checklists and Beyond

After you've narrowed down your choices to a handful of agencies, it's time to conduct interviews. Medicare has compiled a handy checklist of questions to ask when interviewing home health aide agencies. While this is useful as a guideline, it's also fairly cursory in terms of conveying all of the information you need. Going into the interview with a specific list of questions can help ensure that all of your concerns are addressed.

Finding the Right Home Health Aide

Identifying a suitable agency is only part of the process, though. Finding the right individual care provider is equally if not more important.

Home health aides with training — either through a training school or their agency — offer an invaluable set of skills, such as experience in bathing, helping with prescription meds, and moving patients in and out of their bed. However, these tasks are not the only ones that matter.

Finding a person who will be a good fit personality-wise should also take precedence. Why? Because while home health aides are professionals, the roles they fulfill are of a personal nature. As with all caregivers, a good relationship with the patient can make or break the situation.

Be sure to arrange a meeting between the candidate and your aging loved one before making a final decision. Observing their interactions and dynamics can help you determine whether the arrangement will be a positive one. This also allows older adults to play a direct role in choosing their caregivers, so be sure to ask for input following the meeting.

Another way to get a feel for whether a home health aide is the right fit? Many home health agencies will let you arrange a trial period.

The Role of References

Even if you walk away from a meeting with a potential home health aide feeling like you've found the perfect person, reference checks are a must. While home care agencies offer some degree of reassurance, getting first-hand feedback from families who have worked with the candidate before offers additional insight into your decision-making process. And of course, background and criminal checks are a must.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for home health aides are growing at a staggering rate of 48 percent — significantly outpacing the national average for job growth. And while finding and choosing between the many home health aides can be intensive, the effort is a small price to pay for safeguarding the health, wellbeing and happiness of aging loved ones. For more valuable information on senior home care and other caregiving matters, check out our other resources regarding caregiving.

29 Comments

  1. Thanks for pointing out that we should choose a home health aide that is a good fit personality wise, since that often makes or breaks the relationship with caregivers. My father in law had a recent accident, and we think he could benefit from having a home health aid for a while. I hadn’t considered that personality should be such an important factor in our decision, so thanks for sharing that advice!
    1. Private home care agencies are also insured and bonded. This is in place to ensure families are protected from absorbing cost of caregiver injuries occurred while on duty and damages to property. Many caregivers who work independently are not insure nor bonded.
  2. I think it is important to work with an agency so you don’t have any confusion with what is going on.
  3. Thank you for your tips on hiring a home health aide. I especially appreciate your comments on finding a caregiver through an agency. I do feel more comfortable trusting someone with my father who has already had to pass the qualifications of a specific agency. I will keep this in mind as I search for an aide!
  4. I like that you mentioned that you should focus on finding a home health aide whose personality matches your loved ones. That way, you can ensure they will get along and be a good fit. We are trying to find the right home health care provider for my grandmother. I like the idea of focusing on the relationship between her and her aide, I will be sure to keep it in mind.
  5. Thanks for sharing the informative tips in finding an ideal health aide agency. Searching for the right one that match the righ skills as health aide or care giver is really beneficial that could cater the needs of aging parents and loved ones. I learned so much from your tips.
  6. This is some really good information about hiring a live-in aide. My grandmother is getting pretty old and it is hard for her to take care of herself. However, she doesn’t want to move out of her home. My family has been thinking about getting her some help. So, I appreciate you pointing out that you should get an aide that has training.
  7. My grandmother’s health has been declining recently. We have been looking and different senior healthcare services that can help her stay healthy. I didn’t realize how important it is to look at a service’s references to ensure get valuable feedback from former clients to ensure they provide quality care. I’ll be sure to share this info with my family.
  8. I think the article makes a good point in the first couple of paragraphs. It states that you need to identify what it is exactly that you need before hiring a home care agency. My mother-in-law is getting to that age where she needs someone to help her out much of the time. Understanding what exactly she needs and expects from an elderly care service seems to be the logical way to go about finding a company to work with.
  9. You have a ton of information here for finding good home care. I like your tips for looking at our state’s department of health, aging, and social services. I hadn’t ever thought about that, but since my parents are both getting pretty old, I will take a look.
  10. I really appreciate your suggestion to look into what type of home services you would need before actually searching for a provider. I imagine that the provider you would eventually choose could depend heavily on what your actual needs are. It could be a good idea to consult with family members to see what sort of aid they are able to provide as part of that process.
  11. If I ever had to get home health care for any of my loved ones I think that I would feel very comfortable with it. It makes sense that you would want to have somebody who can offer services like bathing or physical therapy to help your loved one get stronger and stay clean.
  12. I think it is important to do your research – find someone based upon the type of help that you need. Then you will want to find someone with the proper credentials/training, I would personally prefer a background check of some sort, a proper interview, references, etc. Since this person would be taking care of your loved one, you want them to have the best care possible. Great information, thanks for sharing!
  13. I like your advice on checking the National Association for Home Care when looking for a health aide. I would imagine that accessing this kind of federal database would be a helpful way to start your list. My parents are getting pretty old and we’d like to get them some in home care so we’ll have to check the National Association for Home Care first.
  14. What a great breakdown of all that’s needed to know about getting the right person to enter your home each day to take care of your loved one! I can’t tell you how many times, as a home health aide, I start with a client and the family has completely different expectation of what home health aides can do – and what they can’t. It’s very frustrating for them and also for me and can really be avoided by asking key questions up front and doing a little bit of work I am trying to help home health aides get started in this great healthcare profession. Thank you very much for the great article! Tina
  15. I really liked what you said a bout home health aides with training. As you say, they have invaluable skills and knowledge that you often can’t get or is harder to get with someone that doesn’t have this training. Plus, it helps you to filter through all of the candidates and find people who will really offer the best services and help ensure your loved one has a good quality of life! Thank you for sharing.
  16. You make a good point about how you will have to evaluate the type of care you need. I would imagine that the person you hire and their salary will depend on the type of services you require. I like that many agencies offer the option of a trial period with a home health aide. I would think that this is a great way to ensure that you are hiring the best person to take care of your loved one.
  17. My grandparents can no longer take care of themselves. Thanks for the information about the two different home cares and their differences. I think the custodial care would be perfect for them. Now I need to find a home health care provider near them that is certified and has some medical training.
  18. I definitely agree that it is important to know what kind of services you need before you look for a home care service. If all you need is a little help around the house then you don’t need to hire a nurse. I know it is obvious, but it is like you said. Some services provide only medical assistance while others only provide help around the house. It will save time if you know which one to call.
  19. I like what you said about thinking about what you need in a home healthcare aid. It does seem like that would be a good thing to think about. That way you get an aid service that doesn’t do too much or too little.
  20. Thanks for the post. I think before you can look for the right home healthcare service, you first need to know what your needs are. That can really help to determine the right care needed. I like that medicare has provided a checklist with questions to ask when interviewing agencies. That really takes the stress out of knowing what to ask, and making sure you ask the right questions.
  21. Asking references for a home health aid seems like a great way to find the right one for my mom. A few of my friends needed to hire some help after their parents got too old to take care of themselves. It would probably be a good idea to ask about the services they’ve turned to.
  22. Hiring the right home aide is important to ensure the best service and this article gives you some most useful information about the things that you need to consider beforehand.
  23. Hi there! New to the blog. Great article! I like the point you made about actually meeting with the aide before hand with an interview and letting them spend time with your loved one. My family had to hire an aide for my grandfather but we made the mistake of not letting them meet each other as part of the process. Not good. Like you said, making sure the caregiver and your loved one mesh well together before hand is a must. Wish I had read this article before all this happened. In the end it all worked out with another aide. Thanks for sharing and take care!
    1. I agree about a meet an greet between the caregiver and the love one. I have seen many times the loved one not happy with the and too afraid to tell the family for fear of hurting anyone’s feelings
    2. It’s so easy to forget that not all aides are the same. We got so caught up in making urgent arrangements for my dad, that we didn’t really think this would be an issue. Thankfully it worked out just fine for him, but I could definitely see that being an issue if he was more stubborn and critical. I think my dad was just so thankful that he had another option before going to a senior living facility.

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