I am interested in hiring a caregiver to help my parents, but I don’t know the difference in private care, a referral agency and a full service company?

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One of most difficult decisions adult children make when caring for aging parents is where to turn for in-home care. Essentially, there are three choices: private hire, Domestic Referral Agencies and full service companies.

With a private hire caregiver, the family or older adult becomes responsible for all steps of the hiring process. They must advertise, interview, and conduct background checks. Once a caregiver is selected, the older adult or family member must negotiate schedule, salary and benefits. A written contract, signed by both parties, clearly outlining all of the duties and expectations, is imperative. Liability normally falls on the client’s lap when it comes to payroll taxes, social security, unemployment taxes and workers compensation cost. It is imperative to get a rider on your homeowners insurance policy to protect your assets if anything should happen to the private hire in your home. Even though a private hire may be cost effective, the safety risk is the greatest especially when the older adult lives alone without supportive family available or there is impaired judgment on the part of the older adult. The risk is greatly reduced when a family member is able to supervise the caregiver.

Domestic referral agencies are essentially registries. A client calls for service and a caregiver is placed in a home for a placement fee and sometimes an ongoing management fee. The referral agencies do not employ the caregiver. The client becomes the employer, and similar to a private hire is responsible for payroll taxes, social security, and unemployment insurance and workers compensation. Some referral agencies have trust accounts where the client pays the agency and the agency then pays the caregiver, and sometimes sets up a tax service for the client, but the client is still considered the employer. Since referral agencies are not employers, they do not supervise the caregiver. This increases the safety risk. Like a private hire, it is important that a family member’s or geriatric care manager supervise and oversee the care.

Full-service agencies employ the caregivers. They hire, screen, train and supervise the employees and place them in the older adults home. As the employer, the full-service agency is responsible for all payroll taxes, social security, worker compensation, and unemployment insurance. A good full-service agency should be able to produce a copy of their liability insurance and carry some sort of bond. Supervision is done by the agency, with some agencies providing care managers who directly oversee client cases, thereby lowering the risk to the consumer. The cost of a full-service agency is normally higher than a private duty hire or a domestic referral agency due to these factors however, the risk is essentially lower.

When choosing home care for yourself or an older adult, remember to take into consideration the risk level of the older adult and the familial involvement. Educate yourself on what service is best for your situation and then interview several potential individuals or agencies. Finally, think ahead, don’t wait for a crisis to begin searching for the best care for you or your loved one.

For more information about Home Care Assistance of the Grand Strand find us on Facebook, or visit our website at www.homecareassistancegrandstrand.com. Our Director of Client Services will be happy to do a free in-home assessment at your convenience. Please call (843) 353-3105 to schedule.