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My mom has had a nationally known home helper agency providing her with basic home nonmedical help for the past two years. It started out as roughly 4 hours a day, but advanced to almost continual care in November when she broke her hip. Despite my hands-on involvement, trying to build relationships with staff, and trying to maintain stability with the helpers, it seems to be a revolving door of helpers, which leads to all kinds of unpredictability and inconvenience for my mom - and me! Although tempted to hire someone privately, I prefer to stay with an agency because they can handle payroll, etc., as well as guarantee a "warm body" will show up if the scheduled helper calls in sick. My question: Can anyone recommend an agency they have had good experience with, or am I resigned to the fact that home health care is a low-paying, transient field, that all agencies are scrambling for help, and that I just have to resign myself to the fact that my mom will never have a stable team of helpers?

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It's me again. Sat down last Friday with the client services manager and scheduler to express my concerns and request greater communication. That lasted for about one day. My mom's schedule continues to change, and I am finding out more information from the helpers than the scheduler. So I am resigned to in all likelihood having to make a change. Last call for any other suggestions....
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Oh, I don't really know. I was just conjecturing. Probably shouldn't have even answered. I agree that it's a pain trying to make plans. And our elders do like to be able to see the same faces all the time, so I totally agree with you.
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"Not every day is going to have the same schedule, so you move people around to fill the needs. Maybe an aide says on Tuesday I need off in the afternoon, so they look for a placement for her for the morning hours. Just to keep her working and just to keep the clients needs filled."

OK, that's fine, but why not just put that person in an open slot. What good does it do to schedule her for my mom if she supposedly already has a schedule in place with her regular caregivers? It seems like an awful lot of work for the scheduler to upend multiple schedules just so a caregiver doesn't lose hours. What happened to the client's needs come first? That's what I am paying literally thousands of dollars a month for.
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The reason I can think of to move the aides around in the schedule is for efficiency. Not every day is going to have the same schedule, so you move people around to fill the needs. Maybe an aide says on Tuesday I need off in the afternoon, so they look for a placement for her for the morning hours. Just to keep her working and just to keep the clients needs filled.

We have used Home Instead and been very happy with the aides and with the management. Of course, they are locally owned, so YMMV. We lost two aides to full time positions that we were very happy with, so that was a bummer, but we understood. We used them for companionship/mommysitting and light housekeeping and have not used them for nursing care yet.
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I know exactly what you mean! And once you get accustomed to someone, each new person has to be trained, causing extra stress of the family caregivers.
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Thanks, gladimhere. I will check it out. I don't have a problem with the caregiver calling in sick, going on vacation, needing to change days. But why would a scheduler move everyone around, making the client AND caregiver unhappy and introducing more chaos and instability? Sometimes I am notified of the change, sometimes not. Seriously, I would really like to know why a scheduler would not want to keep a client's schedule intact, barring disaster. Thanks again, everyone.
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We have had very good luck with LivHome which is a franchise as are many of these agencies. So much will depend who is running the outfit where you are located. And moving caregivers around is probably very normal. We saw some of that but the owner was very determined to have the same caregiver for my Mom if at all possible and she was a regular weekly client sam day same time the large majority of the time, I would guess 90% of the time it was the same caregiver.
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Hi, I'm back - I asked the original question. :) Am still with the same agency - has the name "Home" as the first word so maybe you can figure out who. Am researching other places. The problem isn't with the caregivers - they all seem pretty satisfied - but with the agency itself. The scheduler treats the caregivers like chess pieces to be moved on a game board. She is wreaking havoc with my mom's schedule and frustrating both the caregivers and myself to know end. The manager says she is "competent." I am meeting with the manager this afternoon to get her take, express my dissatisfaction, and see what improvements will be made. Otherwise I am planning to walk. Did get a reference to an agency with "Visiting" in the name. Again, I am just looking for feedback, personal experience, etc. Anyone can say anything in a slick brochure....Thanks for the input!
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Visiting Angels
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Thanks Kathy 62 - this is great info. I will check out Griswold. Am familiar with Senior Helpers, but believe it or not, mom seems to do worse with the older helpers - they seem more persnickety and bossy - I actually have to say I kind of agree. She does best with helpers in their 40s-50s - not too young to be disrespectful and flaky (in her mind :)) and not too old to remind her of HER mom! She likes down-to-earth, commonsense, and warm helpers who make her feel "relevant."
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Sometimes and I have been thinking about it, interview the agency. What training do they require of their caregivers? What is their turnover, what do they pay, how do they choose a caregiver for a specific client? Do they offer any sort of benefits? Companies that treat their employees well will have higher satisfaction with their jobs.
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Might also call near by assisted livings facilities as I have a friend in one here and there is a lady there that does overnight after she gets off there. Just thought of that.
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You should call near by churches to see if they know of anyone. Also Griswold Home Care get there info. Do you already know what time you want someone to start? Like 9pm till morning. There is a charge different if you want they to sleep while they are there or stay up all the time. Also try Senior Helpers there are some near by to you. Do not put ad in paper? We have a site here called Care website that caregivers pay to put there info on there. Some things else to check out...
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I am the original poster here in Phoenix AZ. Have not come across any local agencies yet. They all seem to be the natl franchises. Biggest prob seems to be with the overnite shift. Seems like an ez gig as all mom needs is help to bathroom a couple times during the nite. Flakier and less compassionate.
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Opps, I thought the OP was asking me what state I was in.. didn;t mean to hijack the thread! Not sure what state the OP is in.. i answered out of turn...
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Griswold Home Care & Senior Helpers have offices in Maryland... The office in Florida are great people to work with. Just to let you know that the pictures on most brochures are not of real people that work with the company's.. But I understand where you are coming from. If for any reason you do not approved of the way the person dresses or anything else just discuss it with the person at the company that you signed up with. I hope in the mean time you are doing something for yourself at least once a week. ;))
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Maryland, but if you ask around or check with the local homes you may find a local company near you! I found this place through the rehab mom was in, and I had very short notice to find help with dad! I like the smaller companys, they have more to lose if people are unhappy.. they were awesome and even the owner stopped by a few times to "check" on our CG and make sure we were still all content and cared for..LOL. We loved our CG. I still miss her and hope she is still available when/if Mom needs some help here I looked at the online sites, but some of the pictures turned me off.. sort of like a dating site for some of them.. I did not need my dad being taken care of by someone whose online picture had major cleavage!!
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What state are you in?
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I went with a smaller local company, and we had the same girl for almost 1 1/2 years until dad went to MC. She was 5 hours a day 3 days a week to cover the middle of the day and give mom a break and some company with dad's care.
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Thanks for the replies! I expect there to be some turnover, but there is almost not a week that goes by that there isn't a change - someone calls in sick, decides they don't want to do an overnight shift anymore, etc. I totally understand that "life happens" for the caregivers too. I express appreciation. I think the problem really comes from how they are treated by the agency - like chess pieces on a game board, not individuals who are trying to make the job work for them. So there is no loyalty. I also agree about the pay. But I am paying the agency roughly $25/hr, and I recognize the agency has overhead costs as well as salary costs. Please continue to share on this topic. Thanks!
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FF is right, burnout factor is huge in caregiving, paid or not paid. Even in an ALF where they have teamwork, the aides get discouraged. All it takes is one complaint of wrong doing and the reply is "I'm OUTTA here."
I try to thank every aide that cares for mom and offer some appreciation. If enough people did this, more aides would stay in the field.
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The only way of having a more regular team of helpers would be if your Mom moves into a continuing care facility. Aides who work in client's houses tend to burn out quickly as my boss had discovered when he hired through an agency for help with his wife. Even independent contractors would stay for a few months and then leave. As you know, it is exhausting work.

As for recommendations, it would be difficult to recommend an agency as this website goes worldwide... what is able in one's part of the world or even here in the States, might not be available in your city.
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