Choosing a Home Care Agency

Questions to consider when selecting an Ottawa home care agency:

  • What services do you provide?
  • Do I need a referral from my doctor?
  • How long must I wait between my initial request for service and the first home visit?
  • Is there a minimum charge?
  • Will my private insurance cover the cost of your service?
  • Are you an accredited healthcare service?
  • Are your caregivers trained? What levels of education or experience do they have?
  • Are your health care providers insured?
  • Are there nurses with specialized training in certain diseases or injuries?
  • Will a caregiver be permanently assigned to me, or will there be a new caregiver each time?
  • Can your caregivers be called in on short notice? Is there an extra charge?
  • Can you provide your services on holidays or after normal business hours?
  • Who should I call in case of emergency, even after-hours?

5 Mistakes you should avoid in choosing a senior care agency:

Most people are exposed to shopping for a senior home care agency only when an emergency need arises. This can create a stressful situation when you are tasked with selecting a home care service for your loved one and you know very little about what you should be asking.

Here are 5 mistakes you should avoid in choosing home care:

Mistake #1: Most Canadians believe that because we live in Canada and have “universal healthcare” that means everything is taken care of. Most people we speak with are surprised how little the subsidies are for senior home care. Don’t assume that you or your loved one is covered – ask your doctor.

Mistake #2: Thinking that just because your parents need care means they are ready to accept it. Many family members that call to request help for their parents are also dealing with a lot of resistance about accepting help. This is a common problem that can be overcome with the right approach. Ask each home care agency what they will do to ensure they help your loved one transition into accepting help and how they will manage any push-back.

Mistake #3: Assuming all home care agencies are managed by nurses or healthcare professionals. Make sure the company you hire is an experienced home care agency who offers Nurse supervision and direction of caregivers. As your loved ones age, their needs will increase and it will be important to have the right professionals managing their situation.

Mistake #4: Hiring private caregivers. Some families hire privately, often “under-the-table”, for cash. There are thousands of documented cases in Canada of abuse and theft when it comes to private care. Many people are hired through sites like Kijiji or Craigslist, with very little research into their credentials or background checks. Aside from possible illegalities of working under the table, and personal risks of injury and theft with uninsured care, remember that any employee needs proper, ongoing training and supervision to handle the care of your loved one.

Mistake #5: Many people base the decision for care solely on its price. Remember: Price is only important in the absence of value. Price is a definitely a consideration, but what about the importance of “Registered Nurse Supervision”, properly insured agency, meeting national standards for care? Is the home care agency “customer-service oriented”? How often will they communicate with you about the changing needs of your loved one? There’s a lot more to the decision than just “price.” The right home care agency will sit down with you and develop a care plan that meets your needs, and work within your allowable budget so that you get the most value for your money spent.

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