Choosing a Home Care Agency
Find the right home care agency
With So Many Options, How Do You Choose the Right Home Care Agency?
Looking for the right home care in Canada doesn't need to be difficult. First consider the nature of the assistance you require. For example, do you need occasional help administering medications, cooking meals, cleaning, or rides to doctor's appointments? Once you know the type of care you need, and the frequency, contact different home care agencies in your community to determine which one offers services most in line with your specific needs.
When you interview the different home care agencies in your community, you should ask a number of questions that revolve around their organization, services, staff, qualifications, programs and resources. Also, make sure you follow up with their references. Talking to other people who have used a home care agency is a great way to obtain first hand, unbiased information.
Home care services in your area
Home care services publicly funded:
Typically, there are government-approved providers for publicly funded home care service. Purchasing service directly is a personal decision and government home care will not generally provide advice as to the selection of a private home care agency.
Questions to ask about home care agencies:
There are a number of questions that families can ask when selecting a home care agency.
- How many years has the home care agency been serving your community?
- Does the agency offer printed material describing its home care services and costs?
- Is the agency accredited? This means that their quality of care has been surveyed and approved by an outside accrediting organization (such as Accreditation Canada, CARF Canada, ISO).
- Is the agency a member of a home care association?
- Is the agency a member of a provincial association that has standards of care?
- Does the agency supply a written agreement outlining the proposed services and the costs?
- What are the costs for services?
- Will the agency help access insurance policies and/or government funded services?
- How does the agency handle billing?
- Will the agency provide a list of references?
- What services are provided?
- Are agency caregivers available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week?
- Does the agency have a nursing supervisor on call and available 24 hours per day?
- Is someone available to answer questions or respond to a crisis?
- What are the qualifications of the staff?
- How does the home care agency ensure confidentiality?
- How are employees hired and trained?
- Does the agency require criminal record background checks and communicable disease screens for its employees?
- What is the procedure for resolving issues that may arise between the patient/family and home health care staff?
- Who can you call with questions or complaints?
- What happens if a staff member fails to make a scheduled visit?
- Will the same person visit regularly?
Suggested questions to ask references:
- Do you frequently refer patients to this home care agency?
- Are your patients/clients satisfied with the services?
- Do you have a contractual arrangement with this agency? If so, for how long have you had a contract?
The decision to purchase care should be made as carefully as with the purchase of any other service. By working with a home care organization, families can minimize their workload, mitigate the potential threats and be free to spend their time in the context of the family relationship.
For families seeking home care service, it is wise to choose reputable businesses that guarantee high quality service and fair labour practices. Home care organizations that choose to belong to an association, such as the Ontario Home Care Association, are typically those with high standards related to all aspects of service. Families are therefore assured a standard of excellence and business responsibility matching the importance of the work the home care agencies do for people.
With files from Sue VanderBent, Executive Director, Ontario Home Care Association