By Tracy Fuller
Private home care businesses in BC are not regulated. Neither large companies nor independent providers need certification or experience to serve the public.
Without standards or regulations, seniors cannot assume that a high level of care exists, nor should they expect consistency throughout the industry.
As the number of BC seniors increases, so will the demand for private home care services.
When selecting a private home care provider seniors should consider the following:
- Word of Mouth: Seek references and advice from other seniors receiving private services. Community seniors groups sometimes recommend service providers their members use and trust.
- Company care versus independent care: Home care companies are more expensive than independent home care workers, but they are also more accountable.
- Investigate the company’s history: By contacting the Better Business Bureau of Mainland BC, you can find out how long a company has been in business and who owns it. The BBB will also tell you the number of complaints they’ve received about the business.
- Look for external accreditation: Quality home care providers want to offer the best service possible. Many will acquire extra credentials to prove their skills and safety.Ask providers about insurance policies, whether or not they are bonded, employment standards, employee pension and benefit programs, workplace safety standards, industry skills training, etc.Home care workers with regulated skills, like Registered Nurses, are subject to the standards of independent regulatory bodies. You can check a nurse’s qualifications with the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia by submitting their registration number for verification.
- Interview and check references: Your home care provider is your employee. Ask for resumes and conduct interviews with your care candidates. Prepare questions regarding their experience, qualifications, interests, outside obligations and anything else you consider important. Request and check both personal and employment references.
- Police records: Since home care businesses are unregulated, employers may or may not conduct criminal record checks. To safeguard yourself and your home, you should request the police record of your home care employee. If it’s not available, you can check it yourself through the Ministry of Public Safety’s criminal records review program. The process costs $20.00 and requires the written consent of your employee. If you expect to be driven by your home care employee, check their driver’s license and request a copy of their driving record from an ICBC driver licensing office.
- Enlist a middle-person: Ask a family member or a trusted friend to be with you when making home care arrangements. It is difficult to be objective and critical when you are in need of help. Stressful circumstances lead to rushed decisions and little scrutiny.
- Know what you want: Discuss your needs openly and be specific about your expectations.
- Be picky: Don’t settle for a provider that doesn’t accommodate your needs. It is up to you to ensure you get the care you deserve.