Make an educated choice: Home agency or private caregiver


By Jeannette Sheehan

Are you at home and not able to do it all anymore?

There are options for you to get assistance and remain at home. We all know most prefer to live at home. These familiar surroundings provide comfort, security and stability. Not only do people recover more quickly at home, there is less chance of acquiring a super germ in one’s own kitchen. Friends and relatives can drop in when they like without having to adhere to visiting times that some other settings impose.

So when you make the choice to remain at home with some assistance, make sure to find the services that will meet your needs. The best way to ensure this is through a dependable, knowledgeable and experienced caregiver that is assigned to you, and is there to keep you safe and comfortable in your own home. So how do you find that person? Do you hire privately or do you use an agency?

How do I find a caregiver?

In tough financial times like these, we all want to save money. While on the surface hiring a caregiver directly may seem less expensive there are things you might want to consider. If you hire directly make sure you understand your responsibilities:

•Conduct a hiring interview, check employment references and conduct a criminal background check.

•Withhold all mandated taxes on wages.

•Purchase liability insurance, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance and non-owned automobile insurance if your caregiver is driving the client.

•Understand your needs and the level of skill required for the caregiver.

•Provide supervision to the worker.

•Develop a back up plan when the worker is not available.

What are the benefits of using a home care agency?

When you work with a home care agency, the agency will be responsible for the hiring process, which includes reference and criminal background checks, and employment authorization. The agency is also responsible for paying worker’s compensation insurance, taxes (social security, federal and state) and professional/general liability bonding.

Most important, the agency will send a skilled nurse to develop a customized care plan to meet the client’s needs, supervise and train the caregiver. Some agencies with nursing staff can provide case management services, coordinate services with other providers, and change the plan of care as the client’s needs change. In addition the agency will handle the caregiver’s schedule including replacement coverage for sick/vacationing workers.

The agency works for you and should anything come up, the agency should be available by phone 24-hours a day/365 days a year.

What to look for in a home care agency?

As each situation is different, only you can decide what is right for you and your family. For more information visit the National Private Duty Association at

Jeannette Sheehan, MSN, RN, Board Certified Nurse Practitioner is founder and owner of ABC Home Healthcare Professionals, 233 Albion Street, Wakefield. She can be reached at 781-245-1880. Visit their website at