Deb’s father, Dr. Jones, was a prominent doctor in the Phoenix area. He is older now and lives alone, so Deb wants him to have a round-the-clock caregiver to make sure he is safe. When Bob Koch heard about Deb’s concerns, he immediately wanted to help. Bob recommended the services of Homewatch CareGivers, but he was too late.
Deb decided to go with a private caregiver, not affiliated with a home care agency. The caregiver was helping Deb’s father in his home when she slipped, fell and fractured her hip. Because the caregiver was on the job at the time of the accident, she sent Deb the hospital bills. Furthermore, Deb must keep paying the caregiver’s salary while she is unable to work due to the injury. And during the emergency, Dr. Jones was left without the immediate help of his caregiver.
Why Hire a Home Care Agency
“They’re still paying for this person to be off work,” said Bob, who is the Area Vice President of Operations for the Mountain West for Gentiva Home Health Services. “The caregiver didn’t do anything wrong. The poor person just fell. But the reality is that Deb has to pay for this caregiver’s hospital bills and salary because she didn’t have any insurance to cover this person.”
The caregiver did not make a mistake, but since Deb went with a private caregiver instead of an agency because she believed it would save money, the liability ended up costing her more.
“The idea is that an agency is going to cost more than a person you meet through Craigslist. You can get cheaper help that way, but what happens if they get hurt, or they hurt your loved one, or if they rip you off? From my perspective, having a caregiver backed by a company that covers them with insurance is the most important. It’s more reassurance. Elderly people are already nervous about someone new coming into their home,” Bob said.
Bob sums up the core of the issue: Bringing someone who is basically a stranger into your loved one’s home to provide senior home care is difficult. People like Deb try to do it all themselves. That means posting the advertisement on Craigslist, weeding through the applicants, and then interviewing the finalists. After hiring a caregiver, people in Deb’s situation have to worry about taxes, worker’s compensation, back-ups for when their regular caregiver cannot make it, and a host of other issues. A caregiver agency takes care of many of these issues for a potential client, so while it may cost more in some instances, the additional value is immense.
To demonstrate the differences between an agency and a private caregiver, Homewatch CareGivers assembled a list of 11 benefits a home care agency can provide that many unaffiliated caregivers cannot:
- Taxes/Worker’s Compensation: A caregiver agency pays competitive wages and bears the responsibility for all taxes and worker’s compensation. When a person hires an independent caregiver, the client or their family is responsible for withholding taxes, including knowing how much and reporting them. The family must also either pay for worker’s compensation insurance or pay to cover an injured employee’s loss of work, such as in Deb’s situation.
- Complimentary Evaluation: Homewatch CareGivers provides free safety and fall-risk evaluations when meeting with potential new clients. This evaluation process also includes the development of a home care plan tailored to the specific needs of each client and their families. An unaffiliated caregiver is unlikely to have these types of tools and expertise at their disposal.
- Flexibility: An agency’s caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If a caregiver goes on vacation, is sick, or has a personal emergency, the agency can supply a medically-knowledgeable and skilled replacement. An agency comes with the promise that a back-up is on hand; a private caregiver does not. In Deb’s case, she had to track down and hire another private caregiver while the first recovers.
- Background Checks: Homewatch CareGivers screens all applicants through extensive background checks and by checking references. In the case where a caregiver is not with an agency, the client or their family can perform and pay for the background and reference checks.
- Bonded & Insured: Homewatch CareGivers bonds and insures each caregiver, meaning the client bears no responsibility for injuries, losses or damages to themselves or the caregiver related to the services we provide. As Deb unfortunately discovered, she bears that responsibility when hiring an unaffiliated caregiver. “The liability issue – you’re responsible for all of that,” Bob said.
- Caregiver Matching: As part of the focus on client satisfaction, Homewatch CareGivers matches clients and caregivers, making sure personalities work well and the client feels comfortable and safe. The matching also ensures that the caregiver has the right set of skills to cover an individual client’s needs. In the case of hiring a private caregiver, the client must weigh each new relationship and make sure no need is left unaddressed due to a lack of knowledge. If it doesn’t work out, the client and their family must hunt for someone new on their own. Homewatch CareGivers has other caregivers waiting as alternate options when the match is not right the first time.
- Quality Assurance: Both on a routine basis and upon request, Homewatch CareGivers supervisors visit clients’ homes to ensure everything is to their satisfaction and to meet the specific needs of each client. For a private caregiver, the client and their family can find a third-party, objective source to perform these sorts of quality assurance visits or forego this form of oversight. This can be another financial burden and difficult to track down.
- Training: Homewatch CareGivers utilizes a professionally-developed training platform that is available to all employees. We hold to a minimum standard of 12-hours of training a year, which exceeds most states’ requirements. This ongoing training and testing validates the excellence and preparation of each caregiver. “With that, it’s more than just a warm body. The ongoing education is important,” Bob said. For an unaffiliated caregiver, the client is often tasked with finding courses for caregivers to take, paying for and evaluating how much they learned, or go without the comfort of having a caregiver with access to ongoing training.
- Client Care Plan: To provide tailored and need-specific care, Homewatch CareGivers creates customized and person-centered care plans that address physical, emotional and social needs. These care plans also adapt and can be updated as needed while collaborating with other care providers. A client who hires a private caregiver must implement their own protocol and process to achieve similar results.
- Larger Scope of Services & Partnerships: Homewatch CareGivers offers access to caregivers with a wide range of skill sets and long-standing partnerships throughout the health and long-term care communities. These enable us to provide easy and evaluated caregiving options for busy and out-of-town families. It is unlikely a private caregiver will be able to offer as wide of a variety of services and have vetted relationships with care partners on the local and national level.
- Experience: Backed by more than 30 years of experience in the industry, Homewatch CareGivers already knows what it takes to deliver high-quality home care. For a private caregiver, the experience is variable and based on the individual.
Bob is convinced that caregiver agencies offer more solutions than an unaffiliated option. He says when anyone asks him about in-home care options, he now always tells Deb’s story.