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Home Care - Consumer Alert

Taking care of a loved one is no easy task, which is why many people turn to professionals for help. But in addition to considering the cost of this service, one must make decisions regarding who will be providing care, and this often comes down to hiring an individual versus a home care company. You'll have a lot to think about in this situation. As a consumer of health care, you need to be alerted to as much information as possible. To assist you, we've answered some of the most common questions that potential home aide employers have.

What Are My Responsibilities?

Your duties don't end once you hire home care help. For instance, it's up to you to decide which services your loved one needs and ensure that the right resources are available. With an individual, this means you'll be left showing him or her what to do around the house and how to do it. When you use a home care company, however, you can allow an in-home evaluation to identify what the patient needs. The service then makes sure the aide is qualified to carry out those tasks.

What do you do when that worker needs a day off for a personal matter? If you've hired an individual, you might be out of luck. You're ultimately responsible for scheduling replacements or filling in if there's a last-minute problem. On the other hand, care companies typically handle the scheduling themselves, so you don't have to worry when something comes up.

Perhaps the biggest concern is training and supervision. How do you know the employee is one you can trust? How will you know if something goes wrong? You may have to live with these unanswered questions if you hire an individual, as most training and discipline falls to you. That's a far cry from home care companies, which provide all the supervision, on-site instructions and discipline as needed.

What About the Red Tape? 

Anytime you're dealing with health care, there will be plenty of regulations to follow, forms to fill out and certifications to double-check. And when you hire an individual, these responsibilities fall to you.

Have you ever thought about how you're going to make sure a worker is as qualified as he or she claims? Looking into individual aides means you have to pay for background checks or investigate their education on your own time. Collecting references and verifying work experience is just the beginning of this effort. This stress is eliminated when using a home care company. Organizations screen employees before they're hired, so you can be sure the worker sent to your home is supremely qualified.

There are a few other advantages that go along with employing a home care company. Think about the payment process. With an individual caregiver, payment is not as simple as cutting a check - you have to consider taxes, Social Security and how to report these wages. A home care company complies with compensation requirements without burdening you. They also take responsibility for insurance or other liabilities, whereas you have to come to terms with little to no insurance protection when hiring an individual worker.

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