Home Care Agency vs Independent Caregiver

home care agency vs independent caregiver

Meta: Home care agencies offer benefits independent caregivers don’t, such as education/training, workman’s comp, flexibility, and qualified replacements time off. 

Once you notice the signs a parent or senior loved one needs more support; the hunt for the right caregiver is a logical next step. If you are bringing in a caregiver from outside the family network- either as the primary caregiver or to supplement family caregivers, you’ll have two options: hiring an independently advertised caregiver from a registry or hiring one from a licensed home care agency

There is a big difference between the two. And, while we understand that cost is one of the most significant factors determining who you hire, know there are always hidden costs associated with hiring an independent caregiver from a registry. 

Hiring From A Registry vs Hiring A Home Care Agency 

First, it’s crucial to establish the difference between the hiring processes themselves. 

Hiring from an online registry 

Searching for a caregiver from a registry takes multiple forms, including: 

  • Craigslist or “Help Wanted/Needed” adds 
  • Temp agency 
  • Professional staffing agency 
  • Referrals of private caregivers (or family members looking for work) from your social network 
  • Independent contracting agencies 
  • Private duty registry 

For safety and security purposes, we advise against hiring anyone via a Craigslist or other online format that offers no form of quality control. Seniors are vulnerable, far more prone to scams and fraud than other populations, so a high-level vetting process is essential before you let anyone into your home or your loved one’s life. 

While staffing agencies may do a basic check of a candidate’s employment history and referrals, they aren’t senior care experts. Also, they don’t typically run complete criminal background checks, DMV checks, etc., nor do they typically focus on candidates’ job history and references (who knows whether that “job reference” you called to verify was just their Uncle Bob, posing as a former boss?) 

Hiring a licensed home care agency 

When you contract with a licensed caregiving agency, you aren’t actually hiring anyone. You’re contracting with an agency, becoming a client, rather than a direct employer of their staff. 

In addition to working with caregivers who have a gift for working with seniors, you also benefit from the ability to work with Medicare-approved caregivers and to verify business licensing, Better Business Bureau ratings and reports, and other resources proving you’re working with high-quality care providers. 

We can’t emphasize enough the benefits of working with a Medicare-approved caregiving agency. That stamp of approval can become invaluable if/when your parents require care related to medical events or diagnoses, which may be covered by Medicare and private insurance coverage. 

Here are some of the other considerations when hiring independently or from a registry compared with working with an agency. 

Employer vs. Client 

As an employer, you’re beholden to regional, state, and federal employment laws. You simply can’t hire anyone “under-the-table” anymore, without facing potentially serious fines, penalties, and litigation. 

When hiring caregivers independently, you’ll need to think about: 

  • Taxes 
  • Social security payments 
  • Workers Comp/disability insurance 
  • Paid sick days, vacations, time off 
  • Health insurance, retirement, and other benefits 
  • Who will show up to fill in/takeover if the hired caregiver(s) don’t turn up, call in at the last minute, or quit in the middle of a shift? 

When you hire from an agency, you’re the agency’s client and they employ the caregivers. So, while their costs may seem higher at the outset, they’re typically far less than when you add a private caregiver’s independent wages with the additional taxes and benefits costs required of you. 

Not to mention, the business/logistics of being an employer is a lot to take on when you’re also managing aging parents’ needs with your own and your family’s needs. 

Safety and Security 

The caregivers working with qualified agencies are vetted via complete criminal background checks, employment verification, and thorough check-ins with references. Plus, because they work for agencies specializing in senior and memory care, they attend ongoing education, training, conferences, seminars, and skills reinforcement around home care, senior health, nutrition, etc. 

Not only are most independent caregivers devoid of those qualifications (never accept a candidate-provided credit or background check!), you are responsible for their continuing education and training so they can keep up with the senior’s changing needs with knowledge, expertise, and professional etiquette. 

The level of education, training, and care available from an agency cannot be compared with the large majority of private or independent registry offerings. 

Costs & Out-of-Pocket Payment 

We spoke above that the costs associated with private caregivers often winds up being much higher, and for lower-quality care. As payingforseniorcare.com states, “Aging Americans are struggling to pay for assisted living, home care and other forms of long term care.” 

Keeping the long-term view of the costs associated with senior care is important. For example, there are multiple ways to cover these costs, including VA benefits, liquidating properties or assets that aren’t in use, Medicare coverage, or working with a financial advisor to use retirement or reverse mortgage options to subsidize at-home care. 

Supervision & Monitoring 

As an employer, you’re responsible for the supervision and monitoring of your caregiver employee. Assigning tasks, creating systems to monitor and evaluate they’re doing what they were hired to do, and you’re also responsible for discipline when job performance is sub-par or worse. 

Agency caregivers are monitored by their employers, and software and apps ensure there is a digital track record of tasks assigned/completed, communication between you the client/ caregiver-agency, any red flags, as well as caregiver’s assessment of how services/offerings can best be tailored to the senior’s evolving needs. 

If/when a caregiver requires discipline, requires removal from an assignment, fails to show up for work, etc., the agency automatically sends a qualified and situation-appropriate caregiving replacement to immediately step in until a permanent replacement is found. That’s a much harder scenario to handle if you hire a caregiver on your own. 

If you’re searching for qualified senior caregivers to support a senior loved one’s independence, consider scheduling assessments with at least three, separate agencies in your area to learn more about what’s available, their qualifications, and to feel out which one feels best-suited for the senior client. 

We’re Here For You

Interested in learning more about the benefits of using a licensed home care agency? Contact us here at HomeAide Home Care, Inc. and schedule a free, in-home assessment. There is no obligation and we’ll answer all of your questions, and provide valuable information, about how to age at home with grace, safety, and dignity

Be Sociable, Share!

Speak Your Mind

*