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Understanding the Roles of a Home Care Agency

The Agency’s Role with its Caregivers

It is well known in at-home elder care that great caregivers like to work through an agency. The agency provides the marketing that they lack individually. Here is what that means:

  • When services are no longer needed with a particular family, the agency assigns them to another care recipient, frequently with a wait time of a few days only.
  • The agency can get caregivers the kind of work they like, usually close to where they live, and on their preferred schedules (week days, weekend days, Part-time, full-time, and live-in or live-out).
  • The agency preserves their jobs by covering for them when they are not there. They are thus encouraged to take time off without fear of losing their jobs.
  • The agency provides continuous moral and technical support. Anyone who has ever hired a home care agency is aware of the special the relation between the caregiver and the Care Coordinator at the agency.
  • The agency finally pays them promptly on a weekly basis, whether the client is paid up or not.

It Takes Many Caregivers to Fill One Need

The most basic of the roles that an agency plays is in matchmaking, or finding the best available caregiver for each care recipient. In order to be able to excel at that task, the agency needs to have a vast roster of caregivers, and for that to happen, the agency has to be recruiting and screening new caregivers on a continuous basis.

Why does it take many caregivers to fill one need? For each care recipient, those who would be eligible for consideration must live close by and want to work the required number of hours. The agency then has to make a good match selecting the caregiver who fits those criteria and whose skills and temperament are compatible with the care recipient and their family.

The Agency’s Recruiting and Supervising Roles

The agency’s daily recruitment and screening activities involve advertising, mostly for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), interviewing, testing, validating certifications, work eligibilities and other paperwork, conducting criminal background checks, running reference checks and having a final face-to-face interview, usually with a senior member of the staff. They are then continually evaluated while on assignments.

The agency’s Care Coordinator (in some agencies referred to as Care Manager) does the scheduling and maintains daily contact with caregivers on assignment. They also have frequent contact with care recipients and their families and are thus known to be each family’s and caregiver’s “first respondents”.

Apart from mentoring, coaching and ensuring that caregiver performance remains in line with agency policies and procedures, the additional task of supervision is shared between the Coordinator and a supervising Registered Nurse (RN) who provides oversight on all assignments.

The Agency’s 5 Basic Roles with its Client Families

1.  The agency would have strict procedures for screening caregivers. The family is thus assured that when a caregiver shows up at their door, she has been thoroughly scrutinized.

2.  The agency provides peace of mind by ensuring continuity of caregiver presence in their parents’ homes. Consequently, the family does not have to scramble every time their caregiver is sick or needs time off.

3.  The in-charge family member, particularly when they’re busy or out-of-state, derives peace of mind not only from knowing that the caregiver is with their parent, but also that the agency’s Care Coordinator is watching over the household and is available 24/7.

4.  The agency makes all payments to the caregivers, including job-related expenses they may incur and taxes. The agency can even manage a revolving petty cash account for groceries and pharmacy bills. The agency then bills the in-charge person on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.

5.  On behalf of the in-charge family member, the agency liaises with other members of the “Care Team” that may be helping the care recipient: RNs and other medical staff, medical supply companies and other vendors.

It has to be said that hiring a home care agency is like getting another adult daughter or sister to help with your loved ones. When you can’t be there yourself, that is the next best thing to do


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