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Once it’s been decided that outside care is needed for the aging or ailing loved one, the task can seem overwhelming or even intimidating. When you consider that a virtual stranger will be coming into the life and home of your aging parent or family member, the task to choose the right person becomes heavy indeed.

It is recommended that choosing an agency to come alongside you is the best practice for finding high-quality, bonded and insured caregivers. The agency will have far-reaching resources that you may not have, and access to a wider pool of applicants that have already been through a few hiring filters before they get to you. Another perk of choosing a caregiving agency is that they are responsible for the scheduling and payment of the caregiver, along with finding a replacement caregiver if one isn’t working out or simply calls in sick. A good agency will meet with you in person, listen to all of your and your loved one’s needs and concerns, and then take that information and go to work for you. Here are a few practical tips to guide you along in the process of choosing an in Home Caregiving agency.

1. Research. This is the first step in the journey of choosing an agency. The Internet is chalk full of wonderful resources, reviews, and forums for all of your questions to be answered. Websites like Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau offer reviews from other clients, information about agencies you may be considering, and sometimes even photos for you to ‘see’ what an agency looks like.  If you know someone who has used an agency before, ask for their experience and talk to as many people as you can to gather even more information on whether or not that agency will be right for you. Often personal experiences and referrals are the most trustworthy.

2. Interview. You may think that you and your loved one are going to be interviewed by an agency, but before that happens you need to conduct some interviews of your own. If physically possible, set up a meeting with two or three of your top choices and meet with each one.  By comparing one experience with the next, you will have a nice frame of reference in guiding you to the best choice for your personal situation. Prepare your questions ahead of time and don’t be afraid to talk about things that may be uncomfortable, be it the finances or personal hygiene of your loved one. A good agency has heard and seen it all, and they will be compassionate and understanding of what your family needs.

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3. Decide. After you have done your research and conducted your interviews, it’s time to make a decision.  Remember that the more specific information you can give an agency, the more equipped they will be in pairing the right caregiver with your situation.  Also keep in mind that a caregiver is a real person with a unique personality, and sometimes it takes a few weeks for a comfortable relationship to form between the client and the caregiver. Also be aware that sometimes it just doesn’t work out, and that the agency is more than willing to try and find a better or different fit for your situation.

Above all, keep in mind that this is a process, and sometimes it can take a while for things to settle into normalcy. This is a huge transition for your aging loved one and their life is being drastically altered. Allow time for your caregiver and family member to get to know one another and for them to find a routine that works for them.  One last thing you can do to help another person who is about to take a similar journey to yours, is to leave a review of your agency (always being honest of course) on Yelp, the BBB, Google, or any other sites that were helpful to you. In this way you can pass along helpful information to anyone else in the research phase of the process.

This information has not been evaluated by a doctor and is not intended to take the place of a doctor’s advice. As always, consult your doctor with questions regarding your health.