If you are considering a career in-home health care, there are a number of factors you must weigh when choosing a quality home health agency with which to work. The reality is that not all home care agencies are created equal, and some offer substantially better pay, benefits, and tools to help you thrive as a home care worker.
With the goal of finding an agency that is a good fit for you, here are some important things to consider:
Unique Characteristics of the Home Care Working Environment
First, it is important to determine if you are ready to be a home care worker. Monster's "Is Home Health Right for You?" quotes Susan Patillo, RN, BSN, of the Rutland Area Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice, as saying: "You just never know what you're walking into. You could go in thinking a person is fine, and they're in respiratory distress ... In home care, there is really a huge range of skills you utilize on a daily basis. You need to polish your clinical skills before going into home health."
Even for those who do not perform regular nursing duties, preparedness for emergent situations is a must. Patients choosing home care do so because of a variety of health and mobility issues, which must be handled appropriately by care workers.
Being willing and able to work independently is also a requirement. Though home care workers maintain regular communication with the agencies with which they work, for the most part, every day is spent away from the office and with patients in their own homes.
Reliable transportation is also a must. Often, you may be visiting multiple clients each day, and reliable transportation is necessary to get the job done adequately.
Finding an Agency that Meets Your Requirements
What are your must-haves regarding employment with a home care agency? Here are some factors to consider:
1) What reputation does the agency have among other care workers and clients?
When choosing where to apply for employment, it is wise to consider the experiences of other care workers associated with an agency, as well as client experiences. Do workers report a positive work environment, or do they feel underpaid and overworked? Do clients report satisfaction with the agency? Learning from the experience of others is the course of wisdom.
2) Is the compensation acceptable given the job requirements?
A home care agency that hires highly qualified candidates will pay accordingly. If your agency is on the low end of what is acceptable compensation, there may perhaps be a larger problem of lack of employee appreciation by management.
3) Does the agency require background checks?
Even if background checks are not a requirement in your state, agencies that take the step of requiring background checks of all home care workers demonstrate a commitment to client protection which should be reassuring to you as a care worker.
4) Does the agency require appropriate certifications?
Similarly, an agency that requires certification is likely to invest more fully in its workforce and its clients. Working with such an agency can help provide you with a safe, productive work environment.
5) Does the agency provide you with all the tools you need for proper client care?
One of the most important tools your agency can provide to help you with proper patient care is continuing education. Study.com states about home care aides and their agencies: "The agencies that place home aides usually provide training and orientation for the job that includes emergency and safety preparedness, housekeeping, nutrition and customer service principles. Some states require the completion of specific training courses before home aides can work in the homes of clients. Workers who take positions in hospice agencies or work for certified home health will have formal training to complete and must also pass a standardized test."
The Bottom Line
Working as a caregiver with a home care agency can be a rewarding career. If you choose your agency wisely, you can reap the benefits of steady, satisfying work, a more autonomous schedule, and continuing education that helps you hone your skills as a home care worker. Are you looking for an agency that offers these benefits? Contact us today to discuss your career options as a home care worker.