How do you vet and do background research on home caregivers and/or home cleaning services?

I know from their literature and conversations that they "all the best workers" anyone could hire. But how does one really find out what the workers and the company is like, and if it's reliable? I see literally a dozen or more of these at caregiver expos, all claiming they're the greatest thing since sliced bread.

When I hire a building/construction tradesman/woman, I can research at the Michigan department that requires licensing. I also have a series of questions I ask as well as get written estimates from the same workscope I give to all potential contenders. That helps determine if they're going to work with me or rewrite the scope and create their own work plan.

One agency rep even said they'll "do it all", but didn't want to discuss details; the approach was rather like the choice between driving and riding a bus - leave it all to them. Despite a long conversation, I still couldn't get a good idea of exactly what the staff would do.

I've found thus far that some are anxious just to get their feet in the door, but I don't have the impression they really want to know specifically what I want done.

I don't know of any way to find background info on specific caregiving services though, other than just googling them online,, and that's generally not the most revealing method of background investigation.

One of my biggest concerns is of course honesty and reliability. Other than leaving some tempting coins or dollar bills out, I don't know of any way to test for honesty. But some of the posts here about caregivers who spend time with their smartphones, leave for whatever other activities, etc., are types of situations I want to avoid.

Are there governmental agencies that rate them, such as Medicare does with care facilities?

Does anyone have a list of questions to ask potential caregivers, other than providing them with a list of tasks?

Any suggestions, experience in these issues? Anything else to share?

I'm open to advice from others who also haven't yet used such services but have thoughts to share.

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Probably very similar to what you've done for other professionals you've hired. Outline the scope of work, have a fairly lengthy discussion and get your price. I would want to know two things: Do they perform background checks . . . And are their caregivers bonded.

Caregivers were never tempted at my home. All important papers were kept in a third bedroom we use as an office. And that door was kept locked. Jewelry, firearms, other valuables, etc kept in our bedroom. That door was also kept locked.

Unless the caregivers were going to walk out with a flat screen, we were pretty secure. Ha! Seriously, even my klutzy Tom had no trouble with installing locks on those two doors. Problem and peace of mind solved.

Best way to find a service is probably through recommendation. I didn't have that option. Interviewed two different services. Both were very professional with appropriate marketing. Materials that let me know they were 'for real'. One even brought me flowers.

I went with the other one for some reason. They were knock-down wonderful. Once I made my decision, we filled our a lengthy questionnaire on expectations. When people arrived, I methodically went over a list I'd made of who, what, where -- never assuming they would remember.

Never had one problem.
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Finding good agencies is always a chance, kinda like the Presidential candidates. Would you want the candidate who is in the lead or would one further down the list be the better choice.

Finding a caregiver agency was easy in my case, right place at the right time. When my Mom was in the hospital the Case Manager gave me a list of around 20 agencies but she did highlight 3. I had to scramble because Mom was coming home the next afternoon.

I called 2 of the agencies. One agency called me back in 48 hours, the other called back in 15 minutes. Thus, I took the 15 minute call back. They were licensed, bonded, insured, and had workman's comp for their employees. I never even priced shopped, because I know you get what you pay for.

Since time was of the essence, I didn't have time to put things away that were in my parents house, like financial papers that Dad had scattered everywhere. It's been 2 months with the caregivers and nothing has been missing. Once in awhile Dad will say he can't find his wallet, well he's always misplacing it, and whenever I found it not one dollar was missing. To put the caregiver's mind at ease, I always tell Dad "please put the wallet back in the same place each time, so we don't need to go searching for it".

Another thing is finding a good match... who would your Dad like to spend his day with. Right now I have 2 shifts that come in daily starting at 6 a.m. and ending at 10 pm. And we finally have narrowed it down to those who each have their special quality. One loves to cook from scratch and is very experienced... another enjoys cleaning big time and will take Dad out for a walk... another is a young gal studying to be a nurse so that gives Dad a young person to talk with... another is a young fellow who likes to takes "Pops" out to Mickey D's and has a huge personality.

Go with your gut feeling. The time on the Smartphone is a generation thing. My Dad doesn't have cable TV so the caregivers are limited on what to watch when they have down time. There is no WiFi in my parent's house, either. After sitting for unknown amount of time with my Mom at the long term care, now I understand why some Caregivers are on their Smartphones or Laptops. If their work is done and Dad is safe, why not.
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