Home Care Agencies vs. Independent Caregivers

How to choose one?

Families looking for someone to look after a senior loved one have the option of hiring a private caregiver or working with a care agency. To choose the best option for your senior loved one, it is important to understand the differences in how both of them work, including services and the underlying costs. This article provides information about the comparison between home care agencies and independent caregivers.

Home Care Agency

What is a home care agency? These are private licensed businesses that employ caregivers and send them to the seniors’ homes to look after them. They can provide both medical and non-medical services. Medical care services are provided by healthcare professionals. Non-medical care services include support with the activities of daily living such as bathing, grooming, eating and meal preparations. Professionals offering these services may not go through professional training.

Independent Caregivers

For these caregivers, the family employs them directly to take care of their senior loved ones. Here, you just work directly with the caregiver. No agency act as an intermediary between the family and the caregiver. Sometimes, independent caregivers provide medical care services, but only the ones who have undergone training to do so. Although, independent caregivers with medical care skills are not easy to find. Independent caregivers mostly help seniors with their personal needs. Employing independent caregivers directly enable families to save on home care costs.

Comparison between home care agencies and independent caregivers

  • Cost of Health Care Services

Using a home care agency to provide caregiving services is more expensive than directly hiring an independent caregiver. The hourly rate for a home care agency is $20 while that of independent caregivers ranges between $14 and $16. This is a difference of 20%-30%. This rate is constant in all 50 states. The difference in the hourly rate may sound significant but you have to weigh all the relevant factors before you can make a decision.

  • Types of Care Provided

The care services provided include medical care services, such as daily injections, monitoring of vital signs, wound care, and support with the activities of daily living, like medication support, bathing, dressing, eating, and preparing meals. For caregivers providing non-medical services, they can help with housekeeping, running errands, and shopping. Both independent caregivers and home care agencies can provide both medical and non-medical services. Although, an independent caregiver may not be trained to provide medical services. So, if you need medical services at your home, you may consider using a home care agency because they will find you someone qualified to provide these services. Besides, the difficulties and added liabilities that come with the medical care services may force a family to seek help from a home care agency for their loved one. If there were no medical care, then independent caregivers and agencies would be providing similar services to the seniors in their homes.

  • Quality of Care

When you chose to work with a home care agency and you are not happy with the services their caregiver provides, you can always make a call and request another caregiver. If you are unhappy with the quality of services provided by an independent caregiver, then you have to go through the process of searching and even training a different caregiver.

  • Hiring Caregiver

When working with a home care agency, getting access to a caregiver becomes easier. It is just a simple process. The only thing you do is contact the agency and since they have their caregivers in place, they simply send them to your home. Plus, you can always use google to look for agencies and quickly get access to a caregiver. But seeking an independent caregiver is a process. It is just as challenging as hiring an employee. You are going to perhaps put an advert somewhere so people can write cover letters. You then have to meet the caregivers to interview them one by one to find the one with the qualities you are looking for. The difficulty families experience in hiring an independent caregiver makes most of them opt for home care agencies.

Pros And Cons of Home Care Agencies

Pros Cons
It is easy to hire caregivers The cost of care services is high. You will typically pay more than when you hire a private caregiver.
Agencies ensure their caregivers against dishonesty making their hiring process honest and dependable. There is no guarantee that you will always have the same caregiver every day, even if you enjoyed working with them and would love to have them again.
You can easily request a replacement worker from a home care agency if you are unhappy with the quality of work of another caregiver. Managers of the agency may not address your concerns when you raise them. You may not be satisfied with how they respond to your concerns.
You can easily get access to professionals providing medical care services. You are not in control of hiring or firing the caregivers.
They offer training to caregivers before sending them for work.
Perform background checks and verify information on the skills and experience of the caregivers before sending them to work for a senior.


Pros And Cons of Hiring an Independent Caregiver

Pros Cons
The cost of care services is lower so you can save on home care costs. Hiring a private caregiver is a long process since you have to spend time doing the background checks and identifying if they qualify for the job.
You are in control of the person taking the job of caring for your loved one. You will suffer penalties if the caregiver accuses someone in your family of assault or sexual harassment.
You communicate directly to the private caregiver rather than using an agency as an intermediary. You may have to train a caregiver on your own, especially if you don’t have much time to waste. This may take your time and maybe spend other resources.
There is freedom in the duties caregivers can perform in your household, unlike agencies where the state restricts the duties they give to their workers.