After identifying potential care facilities, the next step is to screen
them to see that they fit the desired requirements. The screening
process might take place in several passes. On the first pass, it will
be important to verify that all care facilities, agencies or home-care
workers are licensed (if they are supposed to be licensed), and
otherwise who they say they are. A simple call to the state agency
responsible for licensing care facilities (or a visit to the state
licensure agency's website) can separate who is licensed from who is
not, and also may yield information about whether recent complaints
have been made against the facility or agency in question. Asking about
complaints is important because it may help identify facilities that
should be excluded from further consideration because of significant
problems but which are still licensed, pending state review of those
problems. If the family is not concerned about licensure or if the
facility or agency under consideration is not required by the state to
obtain a license, this step may be skipped.
Conduct Interviews and Refine the Short List.
Having confirmed that all remaining candidate facilities are licensed,
the next step is to call each facility and do a telephone interview.
The family should list key questions they want answered (regarding
types of services offered, availability of accommodations, cost, etc.)
and reference this list during their call so as to make sure all
questions get answered. A sample interview list is attached to this
document as Appendix B.
It is a good idea for the person making these calls to take notes after
each call is completed so as to record the information learned and the
feelings that each call produced. For example, writing down whether a
facility's contact person was helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable
helps in forming an opinion about the facility, as does other customer
service behaviors that can be recorded such as how long callers are
kept on hold, and how fully questions are answered. This record of
first impressions helps families and the elder learn which facilities
they want to pursue and which they can safely disregard. Facilities
that created a good impression but which are too costly to consider
further may also be crossed off the list at this point in time.
It is harder to evaluate the quality of freelance home care workers
than it is to evaluate the quality of agencies who offer the services
of home care workers. For this reason, it often makes sense to contract
with an agency who can offer a prescreened short list of quality
candidates matching family needs. Families using a home health worker
search agency can expect to fill out numerous forms detailing their
elder's care needs and expectations, as well as a profile about the
elder and possibly the family. Family members can conduct interviews
from the agency short list, confident that the agency has already
conducted a criminal background and reference check on the candidates.
The downside of using an agency is that they charge high fees for their
brokerage services, and also mandate the weekly salary and benefits
that will be paid to hired workers. The agency route is simply not
appropriate or feasible for all families.
Those hiring independent home health workers on their own
without an agency can begin the search process by posting a position
notice in local newspapers, on community bulletin boards and on
websites for local community institutions such as colleges and
universities, churches, and community centers. Craigslist.com is also
likely to be a reasonable and free place to post a listing. Each
candidate who responds to the listing should be personally interviewed
and screened, and candidate's references should be checked. A final
candidate list should be composed only of candidates whose references
all check out properly, and who have no criminal or sex offender
background. Agencies that can produce criminal background check reports
for short-listed candidates may be found online by searching for the
phrase "criminal background check".