Where to get help: Using a Home Care Agency vs. Hiring Directly
Changes in the legal landscape have meant options for senior care have changed. Most people prefer to age in place and a caregiver can make a huge difference in keeping a loved one safe and independent. A caregiver can help with an array of activities including light housework, preparing meals, bathing, dressing, medication reminders, transportation to appointments or social gatherings and more. But, getting the right help can seem a little daunting. If you’re considering in-home assistance and wondering if it’s better to work with an agency or hire a caregiver directly, there are some important differences to consider. Let’s take a look at a few.
For most people, there are really two options for finding a caregiver. You can work with an agency like ours, where the caregivers are employees of the agency. Or, you can hire a private/independent caregiver. Private caregivers may come from a referral service or from a personal recommendation.
Often, the first difference people think of is cost. And, at first glance, hiring an independent caregiver may seem more affordable. However, many people aren’t aware that hiring an in-home caregiver is considered to be an employer-employee relationship. This means you’ll be responsible for following employment laws and overtime requirements specific to caregivers, and paying federal and state employment taxes along with filing the necessary reporting. There are companies who will handle the taxes and filing for you, but that’s another person for you to work with. And, you’ll need to consider the fees they may charge for their services. Separately, you may also need additional insurance to protect yourself in case of an on the job accident. Add to this the cost of background checks and the effort to screen, check references, manage schedules and plan for back-up care and the cost gap can narrow dramatically while also requiring much more work on your part.
Working with an agency means the agency handles employment laws, overtime requirements, background checks, training, federal and state employment taxes, scheduling and back-up care. Plus, in California, agencies who employ their caregivers must now be licensed as a Home Care Organization. This licensing carries strict rules that are actively enforced by the CA Department of Social Services. Once an agency goes through this process, they are granted an HCO# by the California DSS. You should not hesitate to ask for an agency’s HCO# and any agency should be happy to give it to you.
Watching your budget is important when it comes to in-home care, but it’s important to consider the total cost and effort involved. Working with a licensed CA Home Care Organization gives you protection against the payroll, insurance and discipline responsibilities of an employer while ensuring your caregiver is well trained and insured.
If you’re thinking about different care options, give us a call. We’re committed to being a resource for honest advice about different options you may be considering. We’re here to help.