As I mentioned at the end of last month’s post My Experience Hiring Respite Care, I have received a new award for respite for the remainder of 2019 through the Alzheimer’s Association. I asked if I had to work with an agency, or could we hire someone independently? Yes, we can, however the award will only pay $7/hr in that case. Sigh.
So, last week, I took the opportunity to interview several companies. Each of them were recommended by my case manager (same gal I worked with last year), which put me a little more at ease knowing that other clients have hired each one and had said good things. So, I made my calls.
First impressions mean a lot to me, especially in business. A very pleasant woman answered the phone at the first company I called. She answered all of my preliminary questions about their services and offered to schedule an in-home visit/assessment, which we did. At the second company I called (a franchise of a national company), I was transferred to a man to talk to about their service. He was very short with his answers to my questions, but asked me detailed questions about how many hours I was interested in. After what felt like a very short amount of time, asked me if we wanted to sign up. Just like that and you’ll send over a caregiver? I asked. Welllll, sure he said. I said I need a little more information before I’m going to let strangers into my house to be with my parents. I explained we’ve had two bad experiences with home care agencies, and you’ll need to earn our business. He immediately changed his tune, and offered to send one of the managers out to meet with us. I agreed.
The morning of company1 appointment, a lady called to confirm the time and mentioned she was looking forward to meeting us. She arrived, went through her spiel and answered our questions. She was very forthcoming and admitted that the industry is experiencing difficulty in getting good help, that they recognize this and really emphasize working closely with and training the staff they hire. She mentioned the company was in its 10th year and was started by the owner after having cared for her parents, her father having Parkinson’s. Previous to that, she had 15 years experience licensing and operating group homes for seniors and others with developmental disabilities. They have around 135 clients and 100 caregivers ranging in age from 18 to 75 years young! She extensively spoke about what they do to handle different types of emergencies, including caregivers not showing up. She was very forthcoming that the caregiving industry is not perfect. I made a special point to inquire about meeting the potential caregiver(s) who would be assigned before we decided to work with their company, and received a “no” answer. She explained they cannot ask their employees to do something work-related and not be on the clock, plus she tossed in something about “liability”.
The next day, a rep from company2 arrived. She was very young, upbeat, and seemed knowledgeable about the company, explaining it was a franchise of the larger national organization and described the expansive territory they have covered over the last 20 years. The owner started this company after caring for his mother who had PPS. She spent a lot of time talking about their company, I suspect due to coaching from the male I originally spoke with. As I felt she was preparing to close the conversation, she finally asked if we had any questions. I looked at my Mom, who was nodding off to sleep by this time, so the only question I asked was about the possibility of meeting the caregiver beforehand. As anticipated, she also replied “no”.
That night, while I was lying in bed attempting to sleep, I thought about both companies, what they had to say, how they represented themselves and their company, and if I wanted to contact another for an interview. I decided that since we are unable to meet the caregiver who would actually serve us, it really doesn’t matter which company we choose because we have absolutely no idea and little control over who will show up at our door. The next day I asked Mom what she felt about each company, and she kind of shrugged her shoulders. I said I agreed, and shared the epiphany I had the night before.
The best we can do is select a company, see who they send and work with the office if the person is not a good fit. If after a couple attempts it doesn’t seem to be working out, then cancel the service and try the other company. And just do this until we find someone we like, or just give up completely.
Having a respite care award is awesome, in theory. Having no control over who that respite caregiver is, is not so awesome.