Home care services: Questions to ask

Home care services range from medical care to help with daily household chores. If you're considering home care services, ask these questions to choose the best provider for your needs. By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're recovering from surgery or need long term care for a chronic illness — or you have a loved one facing a similar situation — you may be interested in home care services. Home care services range from skilled care provided by nurses or therapists to household support, such as cleaning, cooking and running errands.

Whether you're planning to enlist the help of a home care services agency or hire a personal home health aide, knowing what questions to ask can help ensure that you receive quality assistance.

Qualifications

If you're considering a home care services agency:

  • Is the agency licensed by the state? Most states — but not all — require agencies to be licensed and reviewed regularly. Reviews may be available on request through your state health department.
  • Is the agency certified by Medicare to meet federal requirements for health and safety? If not, ask why.
  • What type of employee screening is done? Can the agency provide references? Ask for a list of doctors, hospital discharge planners or other professionals who have experience with the agency, as well as a list of former clients. Ask doctors, family and friends for agency recommendations.
  • Is the agency accredited by a governing agency such as The Joint Commission, an independent group that evaluates and accredits health care organizations and programs that voluntarily request review? If so, ask to see the results of the most recent survey.

If you're considering a home health aide:

  • What are the aide's credentials? Make sure you're comfortable with the aide's training and experience.
  • Can the aide provide references? Take time to check the aide's references thoroughly. Ask doctors, family and friends for home health aide recommendations.

Quality of care

If you're considering a home care services agency:

  • How does the agency hire and train caregivers? Does the agency provide continuing education?
  • Are the caregivers licensed and insured?
  • How closely does the agency's supervisor evaluate the quality of home care?
  • Does the agency have a quality improvement program?
  • Do the agency's employees seem friendly and helpful? Make sure you feel comfortable with the agency's representatives.

If you're considering a home health aide:

  • Does the home health aide have a positive attitude?
  • Are you and your loved one comfortable with the home health aide?
May. 25, 2011 See more In-depth