Hiring A Homecare Agency Vs An Independent Caregiver

Homecare agencies and individual caregivers both share the common goal of  providing quality care  and companionship to people who need assistance with daily tasks. However, despite that common purpose, some subtle yet significant differences between the two exist.

At times, you may choose to hire a caregiver directly as a “Household Employee” or “Individual Caregiver” due to financial constraints. However, you must do a thorough comparison and weigh the pros and cons of hiring an “Independent Contractor” Vs a hiring a Home Care Agency. Following is a basic comparison to avoid pitfalls of hiring an Independent Contractor.

Selection and Variety Homecare agencies employ many caregivers who each may specialize in one or multiple areas of care. You can meet with multiple caregivers and select the one you feel will best satisfy the needs you are trying to accommodate. Because you can select from a variety of caregivers, you can later replace the one you select if you desire to do so. Individual caregivers offer only themselves. They do not have a staff or co workers and the caregiver may not specialize in more than one particular area of care. If you choose to later replace an individual caregiver, you will have to undergo the same process as when you selected the first one.
Screening Homecare agencies screen all of their employed caregivers by conducting criminal background checks and even credit checks. They perform prior employment checks to verify that a caregiver does not have a negative employment history. Most importantly, they require that their caregivers be licensed or qualified to deliver care, and require caregivers to continue their education. Unless an individual caregiver conducts their own background, credit, and employment checks, which can be difficult and costly in time and money, and provides you with verifiable documentation of the results, you must conduct your own checks or have blind faith in the integrity of the caregiver’s statements that they are trustworthy.
Accountability Homecare agencies have predefined standards of quality care that all of their employees must satisfy. Agencies continually monitor and assess the performance of their caregivers, and should you become dissatisfied with the caregiver’s performance, provide for your grievance to be addressed and rectified. Although reputable individual caregivers certainly deliver their care professionally and compassionately, without a tangible standard of quality care to account to, there is no assurance of consistency and predictability unless you take the time and energy to manage the caregiver. However, should a situation arise where it would be more efficient for a caregiver to exercise discretion, an individual caregiver does not have to operate according to predefined standards which would inhibit that discretion.
Taxes and Insurance Homecare agencies comply with all of the tax laws associated with employment and the homecare industry in general. As employers, they manage Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare, unemployment, and other taxes required to be paid by both employer and employee. Agencies’ caregivers are insured in the case something happens to the caregiver or the patient while care is being delivered. Also, Medicaid or Medicare may pay for some or all of the care provided by an agency. If you employ an individual caregiver, you may be responsible for all of the taxes and insurance associated with employment and the homecare industry in general. This may or may not be a task for you, depending on how familiar you are with tax laws, insurance contracts, and accounting. All of the responsibilities of an employer/employee relationship will be present, but without the potential business revenue that usually makes this kind of responsibility worth the effort.
Time and Cost You will pay more for a homecare agency than you will for an individual caregiver. However, what you pay in money will be offset by the time you’ll save and the peace of mind you’ll possess. Besides, you may end up paying just as much or more for an individual caregiver than you would for an agency if you decide to take on the responsibility of hiring your own caregiver without understanding the business. Depending on the value you place on your time and your familiarity with the homecare business, you may find it more worthwhile to accept the responsibility of hiring an individual caregiver. The process will certainly consume a lot of your time, but you may save a lot of money in the end.