Pros and Cons of Hiring Senior Care Through An Agency


Are you in a bind and need home care for the senior you’ve been looking after? There are a few options, all at different price points and with different benefits and drawbacks.

If you need in-home senior care for the long-term, these are generally your choices:

  • Hire someone privately you’ve found yourself, through word-of-mouth, a website that lists caregivers for hire
  • Hire someone you know personally
  • Hire someone through an agency

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each choice.

Hiring A Senior Caregiver Privately
Deciding to take it upon yourself to hire a caregiver can add stress to an already-stressful time. You’ll want to conduct interviews, complete background checks, and then the choice is all on you. Remember, you’ll also need to fill out paperwork related to hiring an employee in your home, take out taxes and unemployment insurance, and issue a W-2 form at the end of the year.

You may save money by eliminating the “middle man” of working with an agency, and are certainly in a better position to negotiate costs, since agencies typically have set rates. You might also have more flexibility in terms of hours and the duties they would perform, although you don’t want to fall into the trap of having a caregiver perform duties they might not be qualified for, such as dispensing medication.

Hiring Someone You Know Personally
If you hire a friend or another relative to care for your aging loved one, you can certainly streamline the hiring process, eliminating formal interviews and background checks. You might also save even more money. But it could come with many drawbacks and even put the relationship at risk. What if it doesn’t work out? Firing a friend or relative can be awkward to say the least.

If they take a lot of days off, you might feel funny speaking to them about it. And, unfortunately, many people do try to take advantage if they know they are working for a friend or family member.

Finally, people often get awkward when money changes hands. You’re better off relying on a close friend or family member to come and enjoy visits with your loved one, or maybe even help out once in a while if your caregiver isn’t scheduled for a specific time and you need a hand. It’s much better to keep the relationship friendship-based to avoid pressure, obligations or weirdness.

Hiring Someone Through An Agency
You might pay slightly more for in-home care through an agency, but there is a lot you won’t have to do. You are choosing in-home care because you don’t have the time or emotional energy to offer full-time care to the senior yourself, or maybe for a number of other reasons. Either way, the decision to hire in-home care is supposed to reduce your stress related to caregiving – not add other stress that equates to being an employer.

Interim Health Care, an organization that’s been providing home, hospice and senior care since 1966, issued a consumer alert detailing many of the benefits of choosing a caregiver through an agency:

  • Caregivers are employed by the agency, which means you do not manage taxes, reporting and payroll. You just pay the agency the same way you pay any other bill.
  • The agency performs background checks and drug tests, so you don’t have to go through the hassle and expense.
  • Caregivers are fully vetted, screened ,and trained by the agency. You don’t have to fill the role of a human resources director to find a caregiver for your loved one.
  • Agencies should carry liability insurance and cover their employees with insurance and worker’s compensation, so you are not liability if anyone is hurt.
  • If your caregiver gets sick, calls out or doesn’t show up, the agency will send a replacement. There will be no change in the quality of service.

Making the Choice for In-Home Care
Of course, there may be certain circumstances, including budget, where you are forced to hire a friend or family member. Or maybe you really connected with someone you interviewed, your caregiver loved them, and you are willing to take on the added burdens of being an employer just to be able to hire this specific caregiver. That’s fine.

But in most cases, caregivers should at least explore the option of hiring through an agency first. Just make sure you perform due diligence to ensure the agency has a solid reputation, is licensed, bonded and insured, and is willing to offer references. You’re hiring in-home care to receive some help during a rough time. Your in-home caregiver should provide you with peace-of-mind, not additional headaches.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.