Buyer beware when selecting home care

By Patricia Grace

Aging with Grace


Reputable home care companies are in the business to answer these questions and to provide and manage quality caregivers so that a family has peace of mind that the needs of their loved will be met.

​When you live in a major metropolitan area like Philadelphia, you find yourself confronted with a number of stories on the local news that give you pause and sometimes make you a little ill. Last week’s broadcasts were no exception.

One night as well as the following morning, a disturbing report was featured. A 56-year-old man who was utilizing Internet caregiving sites to advertise his babysitting services was arrested for molesting a 2-year-old-girl in his care. Even more disturbing is that fact that this particularly repulsive individual was arrested last year for possession of child pornography.

Apparently feeling unencumbered by his arrest record, he posted his listing as a babysitter on numerous sites, some of which tout their ability to provide “background checks” of individuals.

A quick search online will yield quite a few sites that are in the business of matching families in need of home care with caregivers that are in need of employment. These sites are not only for the care of the young – they carry profiles of individuals looking to care for seniors, as well.

In these difficult economic times, one of the main benefits that these sites highlight is a lower cost of care; you are not paying a home care company’s overhead for the services you need. The theory is that the family will have a more hands-on experience deciding on care as they are handpicking the caregiver from a posting that includes the photo and background information of individuals looking for this type of work.

Several questions immediately come to mind. First, how do you know that the information posted is accurate and that the potential caregiver has had proper training? Secondly, is the care of your loved one, be it a parent, grandparent or a child, something you want to get a cheap deal on? Third, finding care for an elderly relative can prove to be a very stressful situation since today’s families are extremely busy and often scattered across the county, making the process even more difficult.

Do families really want to handle every aspect of finding and managing a caregiver on their own? Who handles the billing if you need to utilize Medicare or long term care insurance benefits? What happens if the caregiver you find on one of these sites is ill and can’t make it to work? Who will take care of mom if she lives 100 miles away?

Many more questions arise, but my point is that care for an elderly family member is not a task most people research five years in advance. Finding home care is a task undertaken when the need arises – trust in the decision and the individual providing the care is of paramount importance and something that cannot and should not be found as easily as old high school friends on Facebook.

Reputable home care companies are in the business to answer my aforementioned questions and to provide and manage quality caregivers so that a family has peace of mind that the needs of their loved will be met. And consider this, the home care company actually meets and interviews the prospective employee.

Is use of a home care agency more expensive than using the caregiver whose photo you find on one of these do-it-yourself websites? Well, certainly, and with good reason.