ElderCareLink, interviewing agencies, working with aides

I saw this post on an online support group recently. It’s about a website called ElderCareLink (see eldercarelink.com) that is a referral network of care agencies. The website also has articles on some good topics: Five Tips for Choosing An Assisted Living Facility, When is the Right Time for Calling Hospice Care, and Why You Need a Healthcare Directive.

The post also gives some suggestions for interviewing agencies and working with home care aides. (I received the author’s permission to share this post.) The post is copied below.



“One resource I have used when looking for a new home health aide agency for my mother with [this disorder] that I found valuable is eldercarelink.com. It is a free referral network of agencies that have registered and are pre-screened. You create a profile of your needs and there is also a dialogue box where you can detail your personal situation and exactly what you are looking for.

It is worthwhile to check out their website but I don’t recommend registering until you are really ready for either home care or placement, as each time I have used it, I immediately start to receive calls and emails from multiple agencies trying to ‘get my business’. I’m sure the response depends on your geographic location, I live in [a large metropolitan area[ and each time received at least 3-4 calls from potential agencies. I have to say that so far with every call I have ever received, it was the owner or a high-level manager who called and was extremely helpful and honest. I have had a few that, once into our conversation, admitted that they couldn’t meet my needs but were still helpful with suggestions and other referrals. I have found eldercarelink to be reliable and trustworthy. But as I said before, wait until your needs are immediate before actually registering. There is no obligation or cost on your part for the service.

If you have never been the home health care route, be ready–it can be a trying experience. Do your homework and prepare before your first home interview with any agency. Write down all your questions and requirements and be BOLD and up-front about your expectations. We have been at this for almost 4 years now and it is still a learning experience.

Don’t assume or take anything for granted when it comes to home health aides, that was my mistake early on. My mother’s care and the care of my home are my only concern, I have gotten to the point that they don’t need to like me and I try not to offend anyone, but I have had aides and agencies from one extreme to the other and I tell it like it is the first day they are there, having learned from experience that what you may think is common sense may not be to them. Aides and agencies will come and go, at their request and at yours, so you will likely go thru this more than once.

Don’t settle for less than you need/expect and don’t be afraid to ask for a change if you see that a particular aide is not right for your situation. In your interviews with agencies, be sure you insist that potential aides have had one-on-one HOME care experience, not just nursing home experience. I learned that the hard way, too. In most cases at nursing homes and re-habs, the aides work in teams and rarely do physical manipulation, transfers, etc alone and are not used to or trained to do it without assistance. Also, in facilities there is always someone else to follow up behind them to do what they failed to finish or clean up. That is not acceptable in the home setting when they are the only aide. Above all, be assertive and express your needs and expectations right up front, and get everything in the care plan from the beginning when you do sign on with an agency. Again, thru experience, I found it easier than trying to add things later that you forgot, when the aide may be resistant to being given more duties.

One [more] thing is the importance of being visible. I work, so most times it is just my mother and the aide during the day. If possible, don’t be afraid to pop in un-announced from time to time. And see if you can get friends/relatives to do the same, to visit. Then get their impressions of what they saw and heard. My mother has different morning and afternoon aides from different agencies, then has “lunch buddies” (various close friends) who come each noon to give her lunch and company. I routinely ask them for feedback on how they found her–was she sitting up in the bed with the side rails up, was she clean and neat, were the bedroom/bathroom/kitchen clean and neat and as odor-free as possible, was she in a good mood or upset? They love my Mom and want the best for her, so they are not hesitant to report anything they are not comfortable with.”