About Kelly Ellis

Why Use A Home Healthcare Agency?

Why Use an Agency?

As concerns over the future of the economy mount, families facing the uncertainty of extended home care for a loved one look harder for cost saving solutions.  And who can blame them?  Everything was fine until granny took that fall or grandpa had a stroke.  Now, all of a sudden, when it’s time to come home, the family is forced to examine the options available to them and none of them are cheap.  Too often, there was no chance to prepare financially and all the kids are working to support their families.  When one person is out of work, that person is often expected to render the kind of care that only professionals are trained for and when they “burn out,” anger and frustration build until the entire clan is at odds.  Friends and neighbors are also depended upon until they can’t continue and eventually garner the courage to ask for relief.  The job of care giving is hard and relentless and sooner or later, it’s going to cost money to give a senior the support they need.

So why shouldn’t the family place an ad in the newspaper or ask a friend to refer a caregiver they know of who has served them or someone they know?  Why shouldn’t they yield to the temptation to avoid employer’s taxes and pay an illegal immigrant under the table for the care they need?  It is undeniably cheaper than going through an agency and sometimes everything works out just fine.  It may also be less stable and unless things are handled properly, it is certainly illegal.  It’s funny how people will rationalize things when their wallet is at stake.

Putting the legal issue aside for the moment, the answer to this question comes in several parts.

First, if a person is not properly insured and they fall or pull out their back or whatever, the employer can be held liable for three times as much in compensation as if they had Workers Compensation in place.  That compensation has the potential to last lifetime.  At the very least, make sure the homeowners insurance policy where the care is rendered has a “Contingent Workers Compensation” endorsement attached.  A responsible agency will have the proper insurance in place and not just Workers Compensation but General and Professional Liability as well as Hired and Non-Owned Auto coverage.

Second, the proper administration of domestic employees is not as difficult as what other employers face but it is still a task that an informed and responsible family member will have to consistently attend to over time.  They need to handle withholding, reporting and form preparation and filing.

Third, the successful matching of caregiver to customer is not as straight forward as many people think and it is a big part of what an agency should do.  The family may think that a certain nationality, age or personality type is best for their loved one but they often get it wrong for reasons that are not readily obvious.  Further, they don’t have the opportunity to know hundreds of caregivers over time and don’t always know how to evaluate the caregiver’s relative experience, personality or true capability.  Agencies deal with these people every day and should take the time and interest to make a good match.  They won’t always get it right on the first try but they should be able to provide a good match.

Fourth, what happens when the primary caregiver needs to take time off?  Many families are nervous to begin with about having someone take care of their loved one.  Now they have to deal with finding, evaluating and training a reliever who is usually someone different each time.  Relying on the recommendation of the primary caregiver is good but that person is usually more interested in finding a warm body to make sure they get their break than making sure they are qualified.

Fifth, if the family is attempting to recover some or all of the cost of a caregiver from a governmental agency or a private insurer, the caregiver is usually required to be employed by a licensed agency.  There are some government programs that are exceptions to this but not everyone qualifies for all government programs.

Sixth, an agency is there to provide a go-between to work out differences that arise between the customer or their family and the caregiver.  Sometimes, the agency is in a better position to suggest and affect a compromise than the parties directly involved.  When no correction or compromise can be found, the agency is usually in a position to rapidly replace the caregiver without seriously impacting the family.

If these issues do not impress you as sufficient to warrant getting the help of an agency, then try it on your own.  You may get lucky.  But if you don’t, you can always call an agency later.

By: Kelly M. Ellis