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How to Choose a Home Care Agency

Written by Melissa Lee
7 minute readLast updated October 10, 2022

Compassion, professionalism, and quality care should be top of mind when looking for a home care agency. However, now that it’s time to find one, it can be challenging to determine which home care agency to choose for you or a loved one. Each situation is unique, but taking the right initial steps can help you discover an agency that checks all your boxes. Learn more about home care providers, offered services, costs, and the steps of the selection process to help find the right home care agency for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Home care agencies bring care to you. Home care agencies employ professional caregivers that provide care services in a person’s residence.
  2. The best home care agency can tailor services to needs. The agency that provides flexible services, tailored to you or your loved one’s unique situation is the best option.
  3. Ask the potential home care agency many questions. Meet with an agency representative and ask any questions you may have about their company, caregivers, and specific services.
  4. Speak to an expert for tailored, local advice. The Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom can help you find home care agencies in your area, whether it’s for a senior or an adult with care needs.

What is a home care agency?

A home care agency employs professional caregivers to provide care services in a person’s residence. A residence may be anywhere the person lives, like the person’s house, apartment, or their individual room in a senior living community or care home. Families can hire a home care agency to provide a caregiver to meet a loved one’s unique care requirements. Or, an individual may employ a home care provider for some extra help at home.

Home care provider services

Home care agencies can help families or individuals fill a gap in care. In-home caregivers can also provide respite to other family caregivers. Professional in-home caregivers often assist with activities of daily living (ADLs) and offer a variety of other supportive services, like the following:

  • Companionship
  • Cooking or meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Incontinence care
  • Medication management
  • Mobility assistance
  • Pet care
  • Scheduling appointments and events
  • Transportation

However, these services vary by agency. Some of these services may or may not be included in a contract with a home care agency. And some agencies provide many more detailed services that can be tailored to their client’s specific needs.

Home care vs. home health care

While home care and home health care may sound similar, these types of care offer different services. Home care typically focuses on a client’s safety in their residence along with emotional and social wellness, while home health care offers medical-focused care to a client in their residence. This is why home care may be a good option if your loved one is in relatively good health but just needs a helping hand around their home or someone to help them with errands and socialization.

Home care costs

The costs of home care can vary greatly and largely depend on what private home care services your loved one needs from a home care provider. For example, if your loved one solely needs home care for socialization, then you may only need a home care provider for 10 hours a week. On the other hand, if your loved one needs help with some ADLs, housekeeping, and transportation, they may require 25 hours of care per week.

In 2021, the national median hourly cost for a homemaker services caregiver was $26 an hour, according to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey.[01] In the first example, this would only amount to a cost of $260 a week. With the elevated hours in the second example, an in-home caregiver would be $650 a week.

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How do I know which home care agency is best?

Three steps to find a home care agency.

You may be wondering how to find the best home care agency, but the ideal home care provider is actually the one that fits you and your family’s needs. What works well for one family, may not be a great fit for another.

To start the selection process, first cover the following bases:

  • Consider exactly what you or your loved one needs help with. For example, if your loved one recently had surgery, they may need specialized after-surgery home care.
  • Determine approximately how many hours of care a week will be needed.
  • If you are finding care for a loved one, speak to them about their goals for the future. Are they hoping they can age in place at home?
  • Figure out your budget. Who’s paying for care? Will long-term insurance cover care? What price range fits within the budget?

It is also helpful to speak with a number of home care agencies to learn more about what each one offers, their company culture, and if they’ll make a good fit with you or your loved one.

The phone call test

Calling a home care agency can be very revealing, explains Lori Eberly, a consultant for A Place for Mom and a former owner-operator of a multi-unit home care franchise. It’s important to pay attention to the following when calling an agency:

  • Who answers the phone? Is this person knowledgeable, friendly, helpful, etc.?
  • Do they answer the phone during daytime hours?
  • Do they answer the phone on nights and weekends?[02]

If you have a hard time getting a hold of a home care agency as a prospective client, it might make you wonder how challenging it would be to contact the home care provider as a client or how difficult it would be to communicate important information regularly.

Talk with a Senior Living Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.

What questions should I ask a home care agency?

When you meet with a potential home care provider, you should bring a list of prepared questions to help guide your conversation. If you’re finding care for a loved one, you should encourage them to attend these meetings and ask their own questions, too.

Make sure to ask if the agency will be able to meet your or your family’s specific needs during this meeting. Don’t make assumptions as to what a caregiver will or will not do. Some potential questions to ask an agency include the following, as noted by Eberly:

  1. How many employees do you have?
  2. How many years have you been in business?
  3. From all your years in business, what is the toughest thing that has ever happened and how did your agency resolve the situation? What did your agency learn from that?
  4. Are you licensed, insured, and bonded? (Some states require a license to do home care.)
  5. How does backup care work if the caregiver becomes unavailable or leaves the agency?[02]

Remember, you can ask any question that you want! This is your time to get to know the home care provider.

After the interview

It’s important to track the following as you speak with a home care agency, as explained by Eberly:

  • Look for sincerity. Does the staff seem genuine and authentic?
  • Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t sit well with you, this may not be the right home care agency for you or your family.
  • Be wary of agencies promising perfection. It is unobtainable and may signal other issues.[02]

After the meeting, take time to reflect upon what you have learned and what you felt. Discuss these with your loved one, as well, especially if the care is for them. Unless the situation is urgent, you likely have to time for thoughtful consideration before making a selection.

Who can help me find a home care agency?

A description about how A Place for Mom helps families find immediate care at home.

It can feel overwhelming and emotional to navigate the home care agency search. You are not alone in this process. The Senior Living Advisors at A Place for Mom understand your desire to find a home care agency that fits you or your loved one’s distinct situation. They can help you locate suitable home care providers in your area, all at no cost to you.


  1. Eberly, L. (2022, August 30). Personal communication. [Personal interview].

Meet the Author
Melissa Lee

Melissa Lee is a copywriter at A Place for Mom, where she primarily creates content for veterans and caregivers. She pairs over a decade of writing experience with expertise gained from her time as a military programs volunteer and military spouse. She studied journalism at the University of Kansas.

Edited by

Marlena Gates

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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