Choosing the right caregiver agency for your loved one is a big decision that involves both cost and quality. “You have to understand what the costs are if you’re going to go with an agency versus hiring independently,” says geriatric care manager Forest Gong, who advises families to consult Medicare’s Home Health Compare site, an online tool that lists patient ratings and other important information about local agencies.

In general, an agency will have higher direct costs than if you hire an independent contractor yourself, including payroll taxes, worker’s compensation and liability insurance, Gong says. Also, an agency will need to vet and train its workers. But when it comes to the overall quality of care, he adds, the intangible advantages that come with working with an agency — like expertise, peace of mind and time savings — may offset these costs.

When choosing an agency, look for a company that offers training opportunities and ongoing support to its employees. Ask whether they offer certifications or other qualifications, and find out if they have been around for a long time. A long history in the industry often means a stable business model, Hinds adds.

A good agency should be able to provide you with references from other families it has served, and be willing to meet face-to-face with you and your loved one to discuss what services are needed. Some agencies will also conduct background checks and criminal record checks, Gong notes. Caregivers agency

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