15 Questions to Ask While Choosing a Private Home Care Agency

Some individuals may prefer an alternative to CCACs and/or may wish to supplement their CCAC services. If this is the case, there are many private home care agencies in Ontario to choose from. For private care, the payment is an “out-of-pocket” expense, although some extended health insurance providers offer coverage for private home care so make sure you check to see if you or your loved one is eligible. The quality and scope of services provided by different home care agencies is highly variable and you will need to do research to find the perfect fit for yourself or a loved one. 

The following questions can help you choose the best private home care agency for your needs:

1. What type of services does the agency provide?  

Depending on your care needs you may need to select a home care agency that provides specialized care or you may be able to work with one that focuses exclusively on personal care.

2. Is the provider an agency or a matching service?

Some care provider web sites may initially appear as an agency yet are, in fact, matching services for families and caregivers who list their requirements and services, respectively. In these circumstances the family is required to screen and hire the caregiver personally in addition to fulfilling all the employer requirements, such as scheduling and paying of the caregiver. Full-service home care agencies manage the screening, hiring, scheduling and paying of the caregiver.

3. How fast can the home care agency provide care?

Some agencies might have a wait list in your region whereas others can provide care immediately.

4. How are our home care needs assessed?

To best understand and meet your loved one’s care needs, a consultation with a care service coordinator can ensure the resulting care plan is comprehensive and a best fit for your loved one. Notably, any care plan should include safety checks of the elder’s home to ensure it is as safe as possible or that any changes are made to bring it up to standard.

5. What kind of qualifications do the caregivers have?

It is important to confirm the qualifications of the caregivers as there is large variability in what types of training and certification caregivers can have. In Ontario, registered Personal Support Workers have completed a formal training program, which can provide peace of mind to any prospective employer.

6. What kind of screening does the agency do before hiring caregivers?

It is important to find out what the hiring process is for caregivers at any given agency. At a minimum, the agency should perform reference and background checks on all caregivers, though hopefully more detailed checks are required.

7. Can the home care agency provide references of families that have received care?

The better home care agencies are able to provide testimonials from families that currently use or have used their services in the past. Do not be afraid to ask if you can have a family contact you to talk about their experiences one-on-one as you can then ask any questions you want and find out more details that may be left out of testimonials.

8. Are the caregivers bonded and insured?

It is also important to make sure that the caregivers employed by any agency are bonded and insured.

9. Can the agency arrange a different caregiver in case I am dissatisfied with the quality of care?

Sometimes the elder or the family might be dissatisfied with a particular caregiver for a variety of reasons, including the non-specific “poor fit” that can arise from personality differences.  Some agencies have a limited number of caregivers and might not be able to provide a replacement if necessary; therefore, if you fear that you may need to try a few people before finding a find, it is important to make sure any agency you choose can handle such requests.

10. Does the agency provide 24/7 support in case of emergencies?

It is not uncommon for caregiving needs to change quite suddenly (e.g., in the event of a fall) and 24/7 support may be essential to notifying them of any necessary or immediate changes in your care plans or requirements.

11. Does the agency offer a wide variety of services in case my needs change?

Every family has unique needs, and over time, these needs can change. It is crucial to know what other services the agency offers before making a decision to use them as you don’t want to have to switch agencies should your care needs change. For example, if you choose a company that offers in-home care services, but not transportation services and your loved one loses his/her licence, you will need to look for other means of transportation or another agency.  This can cause unnecessary disruptions or additional costs that could be avoided if an agency with all services was chosen in the first place.

12. How does the agency conduct follow-ups and resolve problems?

Although it is not uncommon to experience a learning curve when working with a new caregiver, you should look into how the agency keeps track of the performance of the caregivers and resolves problems if you report them.  You want to make sure that all issues are addressed professionally and promptly.

13. How can I contact the caregiver selected for my loved one?

Not all agencies allow you to contact the caregiver directly, instead requiring you to contact the agency for any changes or requests.  However, some agencies offer ‘connected home care’ -  a way for clients to keep in contact with the caregiver directly, either while they are working or outside working hours. If having that direct contact is important, make sure to ask about the ways you can establish contact with or even assign tasks directly to your loved one’s caregiver.

14. Does the agency offer any discounts for long-term care or extra hours?

Some home care agencies will offer discounts if you book for an extended period of time or for a certain number of hours so if you know that your care requirements are longer-term, this is something to ask about.  It is also a good idea to get rates on your specific needs from more than one agency and make a comparison.  Just remember that the cheapest option may not always be the best.

15. Can the agency meet my special needs (e.g. language and cultural preference)?

Depending on your special needs, it is a good idea to check if the agency can provide a caregiver best suited for your loved one. For example, if your loved one does not speak English, you will want to ensure that the caregiver can communicate with him/her or else you are likely to struggle with compatibility issues.


If your aging parent(s) requires home care in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Calgary, Edmonton, or Ottawa, book a free senior care assessment with Mavencare. We offer free home care assessment and the first 3 hours are on us if you book 10 or more hours.