Picking the right at-home care provider in Sydney can be quite a challenge. It’s not a particularly difficult task, but with the many home care agencies around it can often feel like you need to spend a lot of time researching your options before you can come to a proper conclusion. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 very useful questions that you should ask a home care service provider before you consider enlisting their services.
- What services are you capable of offering me?
One of the biggest questions to ask is what services the home carer is capable of offering. Many basic home care services will take care of personal needs such as helping you wash, get changed and clean your home, but there are also specialised services that may require a bit of extra knowledge to perform correctly and safely. This could include anything from cooking meals for you every day or helping you connect with relatives and friends with the help of technology such as social media.
It’s vital that you first start by writing down a list of your personal needs and what you personally expect from home care services, then asking if the service is capable of meeting those needs or even doing a bit of research yourself by looking at their website or brochures. If there are a couple of personal needs that you have which aren’t explicitly listed on their list of services, then it’s worth speaking to them and asking a couple of questions to help clear things up.
Remember that starting a conversation with the carer is often the best way to not only learn what services they can offer but also to see how confident they are at offering those specific services. In some cases, you might be offered services that are specific to your exact needs, but the carer will only know if you tell them. If you’re unsure what kind of services you need, then letting the carer know about your condition is a great way to see what kind of help and assistance they can provide you with.
- What kind of experience do you have with clients with my conditions and needs?
Not every elderly home care service is going to have years of working experience in the field. As a result, it’s often a good idea to ask them bluntly about how much experience they have in the industry and also if they have any experience dealing with your specific conditions if applicable. You always want a home care provider that is not only experienced but also confident that they can provide the assistance they say they can.
If they don’t have any experience with your exact condition or needs then you may want to consider looking at other options first. Always ask around and contact multiple different home care agencies to see which service is best suited for your particular needs. If this extra search doesn’t reveal any compatible home care services, then you may want to consider broadening your needs so they’re not too specific or consider hiring a service that is enthusiastic about trying to offer you the assistance that you need.
Experience is one of the most important factors when it comes to home care. A carer that has worked with a dozen different clients is ultimately going to have far more experience and will know how to take care of your needs better. A carer with more experience is always preferred, but it’s also perfectly fine to hire a carer with little to no experience as long as they have a reputation for taking good care of their patients.
- How long as your agency been in business?
A common and often very important question to ask is just how long the agency has been in business. This is often directly related to how much experience the agency has in working with different clients and can speak volume about how the company works.
However, it’s good to keep in mind that the quality of care received from a home care company isn’t always related how they’ve been in business. Some newer home care agencies are worth using due to their impeccable services and there are also older home care services that have grown complacent, resulting in poor quality of service. On the contrary, you can also find newer businesses that simply don’t do a good job of taking care of their clients and older home care services that are well-versed in providing excellent care services to their customers.
It might not be the most important quality of a home care service, but it’s a useful question to ask regardless. The way the home care agency answers this question could have a drastic effect on how trustworthy they seem.
- Do you rely on contract workers for home care or do you train and employ your own staff instead?
There are still many home care services that use third-party or freelance carers instead of employing and training their own. This is a strategy still used by both large and small home care agencies. For smaller companies, it gives them a wider reach without having to use their own employees, and for larger companies, it gives them the ability to take on more client requests and jobs. However, the quality of care that they can offer will drop significantly.
For a much more personalised and understanding home care service, it’s vital that the home care provider employs and trains its own staff. This allows the company to maintain consistent quality across all of its services instead of being forced to gamble and rely on freelancers or contract workers that don’t have much loyalty to the home care provider. This could result in wildly inconsistent services that won’t deliver a good experience. This also helps to ensure that the carers that are assigned to you will be vetted and insured to avoid future complications.
- What processes are involved before the service starts?
In most cases, a home care provider will perform some kind of check or visit you to ensure that they understand you, your circumstances and your surroundings in order to provide you with a customised service that will help with your every need. However, other processes might also be involved, such as performing a full check of your medical history to ensure that they’ve got your conditions listed correctly and that they can provide you with a home carer that has experience with your situation. Other carers may also even get your family members involved so that they can get a better understanding of your current situation and learn how to better take care of you based on your personal preferences.
The processes involved before the service starts will vary depending on the home care provider, but the more thorough they are at understanding you and your situation, the more likely the service will be better. This is an information gathering phase and every good home care provider will carry this out in order to provide you with a better service in the future. If they ignore this important task, then it’s likely that your personal and medical circumstances will not be taken into consideration during the home care service and you won’t have a good time. However, if they show attention to detail and ask about every detail, then it’s more likely that they care about your circumstances and are gathering information in order to be able to provide you with best quality care available.
- Will my family members and I be able to have a say in the way you carry out your services?
A key to offering an excellent home care service is providing flexibility. Instead of feeling like you need to pick a home care provider based on what they can offer you, the focus should be on your personal needs and the provider adapting based on what information you offer them. As a result, it’s often extremely important that you and your family members and friends have a say in how the service is carried out. The more people involved in this process, the more accurate and relevant the information will be. This will allow the home care provider to change their services and adapt depending on what the best options would be for the client in question.
A lack of flexibility will harm a home care provider’s services. A home care provider should be all about adapting to what their clients need and offering a wider variety of options in order to meet those demands. Without flexibility, it will feel like you’ll need to change your way of life just to meet their requirements, putting extra stress on your shoulders instead of helping you live a happier and more comfortable lifestyle.
- What steps do you take to ensure that your carers are a match to my needs?
Home carers are ultimately going to get very close and personal with you due to the range of services they provide. As a result, you’ll often want to be paired with a carer that matches perfectly with you in terms of attitude, personality and potentially even lifestyle choices. This will help you grow accustomed to your home carer so that there are fewer conflicts that could potentially ruin the entire home care service.
There are also other special needs that could be taken into consideration. These include cultural, language or even religious reasons. For instance, if you’d prefer the client to be able to speak and read in your first language, then the care service may be able to provide you with a carer that is fluent in the language. Similarly, if you’d prefer for your carer to follow the same religion as you or be a part of the same culture as you, it can likely be arranged should they have a wide range of staff members available.
It’s possible to get very detailed with your needs so that the provider can find a perfect match, but it’s important to be realistic with your expectations as well. While it’s never impossible to find a carer that can fit all of your needs while also speaking the same languages as you and following the same cultures, the likelihood of it happening will drastically drop the more criteria you add. However, seeing a home care provider going the extra mile to find the perfect match for you is often a sign that they are committed to your wellbeing and well worth your time to work together with.
- Will I be paired with the same carer or multiple different ones?
Home care services rely heavily on the bonds and relationships that you build with your carer. However, many carers cannot commit to a completely 24/7 service, meaning that there might be occasions where you’ll be assigned a different carer for a couple of days. This is sadly something that cannot be avoided unless the home care provider can promise that you’ll only ever need to work together with a single carer. While this is a service that some providers can offer, others will admit that due to the rotation of shifts and holiday periods, they cannot guarantee that you’ll receive home care from the same person forever.
It can be particularly difficult working with several different carers over a short period of time. However, high-quality care services often have no choice but to assign two or more different carers to you. The good thing is that they’ll usually adjust their home care services to take this into consideration. For instance, if there’s a new carer assigned to you, then they’ll often request that your old carer shares information about so that your new carer can quickly fit into their role of helping you with your everyday life. This means that even if your carer does change for a few days per month, they’ll know everything about you and be able to provide you with an excellent level of service.
- Are there reviews or testimonials from your clients that I can see?
Even after having great interactions with the home care service provider, there’s always a very slim chance that they’ll go back on their word or be unable to provide a great service that helps you with your needs. It’s unfortunate when this happens especially if your talks went incredibly smoothly and you were made many promises. This can often be avoided if you read testimonials and reviews about the service, so don’t hesitate to ask where you can read feedback on the service. There’s a good chance that the business is listed on Google where clients can provide feedback and reviews. If they’re incredibly nice to you over the phone and have promised to deliver excellent services, but only have a two-star rating on Google, then it should raise a red flag and you should dig deeper to find out if the service is worth your time or not.
If the company refuses to direct you to legitimate reviews and feedback then it’s a sign that they might not be as good as you first hoped. There are some home care providers that will sound absolutely amazing, offering you impeccable services and flexibility. However, as soon as they receive your payment and they send over a home care provider, it can quickly spiral out of control and you might be faced with a horrible level of service and be unable to do anything about it. You can completely avoid this situation by relying on reviews and testimonials that show what the provider is capable of.
- What methods do I have available to pay for your services?
Lastly, it’s important to consider the payment options you have available. Everyone has their preferred payment methods and there are often times when you can receive help from various government bodies and authorities that will assist in paying for your home care services. The financial help available to you will vary greatly depending on your personal circumstances and you might find that the cost of high-quality home care can be lower than you’re expecting.
Ask the provider if there are options to reduce or split the costs and consider all of the available options to ensure that you can comfortably pay for the service and that you take advantage of all the cost-saving measures available. Quality home care doesn’t need to be very expensive and some of the most affordable options will be surprisingly flexible and effective at making your life more comfortable.
If you’re considering the option of home care in the future then keep these questions in mind because they’ll help you better understand the home care services and the type of people that work for the agency. Home care services are a long-term investment and it’s vital that you pick the right service from the beginning so that they can truly support you and help you live a comfortable and carefree lifestyle.