The Right Way to Switch Home Care Agencies

Home care professionals are becoming an increasingly popular option as we seek to offer the most freedom and independence to our aging loved ones. This model of health care will continue to play a key role in the coming years as families choose to steer away from community-based nursing homes.

In-home caregivers provide a set of capable hands trained to handle various medical conditions, as well as provide a source of companionship for an aging adult. It is important to find the right person that is compatible with your loved one to ensure their comfort. If you feel they are not the best match for you and your family, it is important that you search for either a new professional or a new agency.

Making the switch

The goal of bringing in a caregiver is to help an older adult maintain a measure of independence. They still feel as though they are in control, while their family can feel confident that they are receiving an adequate level of care. With this in mind, it is important to find the right match and, if the first agency isn't a good fit, to know how to smoothly switch to another.

If you aren't able to find a suitable new aide at your current agency, below are some recommended steps to guide you on your search:

  • Identify what is missing from the current services that you are receiving. For example, do you need a specially trained person to handle a specific condition such as dementia? Would your aging loved one prefer an older or younger caregiver or a male over a female? If possible, it is important to consult with your aging loved one on what would make them most comfortable. Once you have identified these missing elements, be sure to keep them in mind when researching new opportunities.
  • Before letting anyone go, ensure that you have someone lined up for any interim time so that care isn't interrupted for your loved one.
  • Ensure that the new agency you are switching to is fully licensed and that their home health aides are fully certified by the state in which your loved one resides.
  • Give adequate notice to your current agency that you will no longer require their services.

Finding a reliable home health care agency

Families should not feel pressured or uncomfortable about switching home care providers, if it is in the best interest of their aging loved one.

Your in-home health care professionals should be licensed and trained, as well as friendly companions for your loved ones in their older years. Look for agencies that conduct comprehensive background checks and training beyond state requirements. Training should cover a broad range of topics including nutrition, personal care, cultural sensitivity and professionalism.

It is also imperative to thoroughly interview all prospects. Start with this list of questions to ask before hiring a caregiver.

When you decide to switch agencies, is it important to communicate with your new agency on what your aging loved one requires. This will help to ensure open dialogue and a compatible relationship with your aide, moving forward.

Renata Gelman, RN, B.S.N., is assistant director of clinical services at Partners in Care, an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY). In this role, she coordinates patient care and manages a multi-disciplinary team of field nursing and home health care professionals in the clinical area of a VNSNY’s private care division.

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