A home care agency or home care organization (sometimes called companion care) provides non-medical services, with the intent of helping an older adult live at home independently. Home care agencies provide a wide variety of services, and most include transportation, telephone calls for safety checks, laundry, grocery and personal care, shopping, meal preparation, and general housekeeping. They can also assist with personal care such as bathing, toileting, personal grooming, and dressing. Home care aides can assist older adults with self-administered medications. Some home care agencies provide memory care, and help with exercise.
Home Care Agencies and the Law
California law requires home care agencies to maintain liability insurance, to ensure their home care aides pass an extensive Department of Justice back ground check, and register with the state. This law protects frail and vulnerable older adults who often depend on their home care aides in order to continue living independently. Using an unlicensed home care agency often means the care aides have not been fingerprinted, received proper training, or health screenings.
In May of 2017 there were 22 licensed home care agencies and one pending application in Fresno County. A little more than a year later there are 29 licensed home care agencies and two pending applications. Some Fresno home care agencies also serve the Madera area.
Questions to ask before deciding on a home care agency
Not all home care agencies are alike. It is important to determine if the needs of your loved one can be met by the agency. Many agencies will conduct a free screening assessment. The screening determines the level, frequency, duration, and type of care needed, and should include a discussion of whether and how the agency will meet the caregiving need. Prices for services may vary depending on the level of care needed.
- What type of assessment will be conducted to determine level of need?
- What type of training do the home care aides receive?
- How are minor issues, complaints, and suggestions handled?
- Can a different home care aide be assigned if personalities do not match?
- How many home care aides will be assigned to my loved one?
- Does the home care agency offer any special programs, like exercise, if needed?
- How does the agency handle emergencies? This could include needing to stay longer unexpectedly, or trips to an emergency room.