A Checklist for Evaluating Home Health Agencies

Because you don't deserve anything better but the best.

6/14/20233 min read

Choosing a home health agency is an important decision when you need extra care and support at home. The agency you select should be able to provide high-quality, customized care for your specific needs. Use the checklist below to evaluate potential home health agencies and find the best match for you or your loved one:

Experience and reputation: Look for an agency with at least 5-10 years of experience providing in-home care. Check online reviews from current and former clients to gauge their reputation and quality of services. An established agency with a solid reputation will likely provide better care.

Licensed and accredited: Choose an agency that is properly licensed in your state and accredited by an organization like the Joint Commission or CHAP. Licensing and accreditation show that the agency meets certain standards for quality and safety.

Services offered: Make sure the agency offers the specific types of care and assistance you need. Common services include personal care like bathing and dressing, homemaking, medication reminders, medical equipment assistance, physical therapy, and skilled nursing care. Choose an agency that can provide all required services.

Staff qualifications: Ask about the qualifications, certifications, and training required for the agency's caregivers and nurses. Higher standards usually mean better qualified, more competent staff. Caregivers should be certified or licensed if required in your state. Nurses should have proper nursing certifications and licenses.

Caregiver screening and matching: The agency should thoroughly screen all caregivers before hiring and match them to clients based on needs and preferences. Ask about their screening, interviewing, and matching process. Closer matches mean better care and rapport with caregivers.

Scheduling and availability: Make sure the agency has caregivers available for the specific hours you need, including weekends, evenings, and holidays if necessary. They should be able to provide consistent staffing and accommodate any changes in schedule or level of care needed.

Cost and insurance: Compare the agency's rates with other local providers to ensure they are reasonable and competitive. See if they accept private insurance, long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. Understand all fees and costs involved, including initial assessments, hourly/daily rates, and any additional charges before selecting an agency.

Policies and procedures: The agency should have clear policies and procedures in place for all aspects of care and operations.

Here are a few additional points to consider when evaluating home health agencies:

Personalized care plans: The agency should develop customized care plans based on initial assessments of each client's needs, conditions, and preferences. Care plans should be reevaluated regularly and updated as needed to provide the appropriate level of care. Personalized, well-developed care plans indicate an agency focused on meeting individual needs.

Communication and reporting: The agency should maintain open communication with clients and their physicians or other healthcare providers. Caregivers should provide verbal or written reports on patients' health, medication compliance, safety issues, or other concerns. Proper communication and reporting help ensure any changes in patients' needs or conditions are addressed quickly.

Emergency planning: The agency should have emergency plans in place to respond to medical emergencies or natural disasters that could affect care delivery. Ask about their emergency preparedness plans, backup generator systems, partnerships with emergency agencies, and how they will ensure care in crisis situations. Thorough emergency planning is essential for home health agencies.

Care oversight and supervision: The agency should provide oversight and supervision for all caregivers and services. They should conduct regular evaluations and spot checks to monitor the quality of care provided. Close oversight and supervision help identify any issues with caregivers or changes needed in care plans to better serve clients.

Additional services: Some home health agencies provide additional services like occupational or physical therapy, medical social services, hospice care, and private duty nursing. Choosing an agency that offers a range of services allows for continuity of care through one provider as health needs change.

Service area: Make sure the agency provides services in your area or the location where care is needed. Some agencies may cover a limited region, while others provide statewide or nationwide care. Choose an agency that services the required area.

Using this extended checklist, you can conduct a thorough evaluation of home health agencies to find one that suits all of your needs or the needs of your loved one.