LB = Larry Berkelhammer – Interviewer SO = Steve Olian – Interviewee
Continuing with part 3 of interview with home healthcare expert Steve Olian:
LB: In terms of contracting with an agency, I imagine you’d have to get references from an agency and find out about their availability, just as you would with an individual? How do you trust that the references they are supplying are legitimate? Can you actually call some of the names on there to see if they really liked the agency?
SO: Absolutely, you have to get the list and actually start calling these people. In particular, you want to speak directly to the family member being cared for. They are the ones who are really affected and are best in making the evaluations. You want to know how long they have been using the agency, and how reliable they have been in terms of showing up on time. If there are many shifts involved, have they been able to provide enough people to cover the shifts. The agencies will tell you that they are more than capable of doing it, but when the crunch comes, they often just don’t have the staff to do it.
LB: So, it sounds like whether you go with an agency or with individuals, in both cases you have to get references and actually check these references out—call people who have used either the agency or used the individual if you’re hiring individuals?
SO: This is certainly true, if the agencies have been in business a long time in your area, there is a certain sense of dependability that you would have from them, and especially if you’ve got good references from their clients. That’s something to go on, that you might not have with an individual who is simply doing this on a one-on-one basis, who may have only been in town for the last couple of years.
LB: Steve, let’s say this illness comes on fairly suddenly and you need round the clock care, 24-7, and you haven’t really had the time to ask family members and friends to do the research. What’s the best way to determine whether to go with an individual or an agency, and how do you even know who to call? How do you get the names?
SO: Generally when there’s sudden or acute onset with a need to call for this kind of service, the patient is coming out of a hospital situation, and there you have the option of getting the information from the discharge planning personnel at the hospital. They can be very helpful. Hopefully, you’re at a hospital where they do have good and competent staff who can refer you to agencies that they have checked out themselves, that they have vetted in one way or another. But there’s always a need for vigilance; you’re still going to have to watch the situation as time goes by. If it’s just a short-run coverage situation, that’s one thing, but if it’s something that’s going to last for months or possibly years, you’re probably going to find that you’re going to be changing agencies or individuals as time goes on. So the process is kind of continual.