Pros and Cons of Home Care Agency vs A Private Caregiver

If you’re considering home care services for yourself or an aging parent, you may be torn between hiring a private individual as a caregiver or working with a home care agency. Understanding the key differences between the two is important. After all, the caregiver you hire is going to be inside your loved one’s home and will be entrusted with their care.

Here we outline the benefits of a home care agency versus a private caregiver:

1. Legality and tax deductions

To hire a private caregiver as a legal employee, the employer (who is the person paying for the service) is responsible for Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) ongoing remittances. This includes submitting payroll records and calculating and paying the necessary income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Workers Compensation premiums, Employment Insurance (EI) deductions, as well as following provincial labour laws and regulations related to statutory holidays, overtime pay, and vacation pay.  Private employers are also responsible for, and should be concerned about, any discrimination and sexual and other harassment claims, wrongful/constructive dismissal actions, “notice” and severance pay issues. Agencies manage all of these tasks in addition to disciplining or replacing the caregiver if he/she is not satisfactory, replacing caregivers if sick, on vacation, on maternity leave or taking personal time off.

A caregiver who is employed by a home care agency is paid directly by the agency thus eliminating most of the risks and responsibilities and saving the client from having to undertake a multitude of mandatory reporting responsibilities.

2. WSIB coverage in the event the caregiver is injured on the job

If a “private” caregiver is injured on the job, the employer is liable for compensation which can be long term depending on the severity and nature of the injury. Caregivers employed by a home care agency are covered under WSIB (Workers Safety and Insurance Board) and any claims are between the WSIB and the home care agency, not the client.

If hiring private staff, employers need to register (and remit) with WSIB as an employer and ensure that their home insurance policy covers any injuries not covered by WSIB.

3. Insurance against theft and damage

Reputable home care agencies have an extensive screening process for potential employees which includes a thorough interview process, reference checks, and criminal background check. This helps ensure they hire honest, dependable, and professional staff.  Home care agencies also fully insure their staff for liability and dishonesty for your protection and theirs.

When you hire a private caregiver, you are responsible for having adequate home insurance coverage in place to protect from theft or damage to the home or contents caused by the individual providing care.

4. Quality of care

The quality of care really comes down to the individual providing care, regardless of whether they work privately or for a senior care agency. One key difference between hiring a home health care agency versus a private caregiver is that if you are unhappy with the quality of care, you can immediately request a replacement worker. Agencies also undertake a due diligence process to ensure they are hiring experienced and qualified caregivers who take pride in offering excellent care. Many caregivers work with their agencies for years and have a verifiable and proven track record.

If you’re unhappy with or dismiss your private caregiver, you will have to start the entire advertising, interviewing and hiring process and employee registration all over again possibly leaving you or your loved one in the lurch.

5. A Change in Care Needs

Most reputable home care agencies maintain an extensive call list and have the staff needed to accommodate a client’s changing or increasing needs. This also means coverage is available if the caregiver calls in sick.

Along with other caregivers, an agency has PSWs and nurses available to handle more advanced home healthcare needs if and when they arise. Most reputable agencies also employ a Registered Nurse as a supervisor to their PSW and RPN field staff.

A private caregiver works alone, making it difficult to manage changes in schedule, unanticipated absences, vacations or more complex care recipient challenges.

8. Types of Care

The types of care offered by home care agencies range from companionship and help with daily activities, such as shopping and errands, to advanced home health care, such as injections and wound care.

While some private caregivers are able to provide different types of care, it’s not easy to find one which is professionally trained and licenced to provide medical care. This speaks to an agency’s ability to accommodate change when and if it is required. Privately hiring and paying for private licensed nurse for a care recipient who may not always require medical care at home is rarely financially prudent. A home care agency offers the flexibility of choosing as much or as little care as needed with the ability to adjust the schedule at any time.

There is much greater risk and responsibility involved when hiring privately and assuming the role of employer. A home care agency handles the screening and legalities, thereby providing peace of mind for the care recipient and their family.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

Interviewing caregivers for the first time – Do you know what questions to ask?

You want to provide your aging parent with the best care, but knowing how to go about it can be a little daunting.

Choosing a home health care agency is the first step and often the first choice when hiring a caregiver. While there is no shortage of private caregivers advertising their services online and in the newspaper, a home care agency is usually the first choice for families and their seniors for several reasons.

We obviously can’t speak for all agencies, but caregivers who work for Living Assistance Services:

  • must pass our thorough screening process, including a check of credentials and criminal check
  • must have at least two years of professional experience
  • are hired based on credentials and experience, as well as personality

Home health care agencies also have staff available to assist with the ever-changing needs of the elderly, including qualified PSWs (personal support workers) and RPNs (registered practical nurses) who work under the direct supervision of an RN (registered nurse).

What to Ask

Once you’ve decided on a home health care agency, it’s still important to do your due diligence when it’s time to choose your loved one’s caregiver. This is important because, after all, this is the person who you’ll allow into your loved one’s home and entrust with their care.

Asking the right questions when interviewing potential caregivers is key. We’ve compiled some standard questions that can offer valuable insight into the caregiver’s skills, and, just as importantly, their reasons for wanting to work with seniors.

  • What is a PSW?
  • Are you comfortable with the duties required? (Be sure to review the job description, which may include personal care, such as hygiene and dressing, light housekeeping, shopping and errands, meal preparation, and companionship, such as reading a book or playing cards.)
  • Are you comfortable with pets? (If your loved one has pets)
  • Do you have a medical condition or limitation that would prevent you for performing the tasks required?
  • What experience do you have caring for seniors and/or people with cognitive impairment?
  • Are you able to be flexible and change or increase hours if needed?
  • How do you feel about the elderly and/or people with disabilities?
  • Have you ever dealt with an emergency? If so, what was the emergency and what did you do?
  • How would you deal with a client who refuses to comply with care? For example, if they refuse to take their medication or won’t take a bath?
  • How would you respond if the person you were caring for was verbally and physically aggressive towards you?
  • Under what circumstances would you say it is acceptable to break a confidence of a client? For example, would you tell me if my mom/dad did or said something concerning or about what happened at their doctor’s appointment?

Once you’ve completed the interview obtain copies of the caregiver’s documentation such as proof of education, first aid training certificates, etc. You will also want to get written permission and check references.

A reputable and transparent home care agency should have nothing to hide and will happily answer your questions and provide the documentation requested. Their literature and website should provide you with information relative to their experience, their range of services, their management team and the principles of their agency.

We understand that every person’s situation and needs are different. Hopefully, you find this information helpful when you’re ready to start interviewing potential senior care candidates.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We can help!

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

How Caregiver Companions Can Support Your Loved One In A Senior Community

When contemplating senior care for your elderly parent or loved one, you likely think the options are a senior community or hiring a caregiver from a home care agency. In reality, you can do both!

Some seniors require ‘round-the-clock care due to medical conditions, while for others it’s just about convenience or circumstance. Despite the fact that your parent is living in a senior community, it can continue to be difficult to try to juggle work and family life, as well as doctors’ appointments, errands, and even just social visits. This is when a caregiver/companion can help.

When you enlist the help of a private agency within a senior community you are supporting not only your loved one, but also the community care staff and yourself.

The benefits of a caregiver/companion are many. They are able to provide individualized support for loved one’s with dementia and assist with feeding together with helping with all other care needs. However, it’s not just about supportive care. A caregiver companion can also;

  • make friendly regular visits and spend quality time with a loved one doing any activity they enjoy
  • escort your loved one to medical appointments when you are not able to attend (and report)
  • provide transportation to and from appointments and any other outings
  • provide cultural support, which often is not available in senior communities

The life in a senior community can become lonely, despite interactions with staff and other residents within the senior community.  Moving a loved one to a senior community often means moving further from friends and family, as well as from the lifestyle he/she has always known. A caregiver companion frequently enables the transition to be less lonely with their visits and helping your loved one venture out to see friends, attend church or participate other day-to-day activities.

If you’d like to learn more about how our caregivers and senior communities can co-exist to help both you and your loved one, give us a call.

David Porter, CPCA

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care