Resource Guide for Family Caregivers
Home support

In the BC Capital Region, there are several agencies affiliated with the Vancouver Island Health Authority that participate in an ongoing quality assurance program. The Case Manager can tell you which ones these are.

If, following your assessment by a Long Term Care Case Manager, you are eligible for subsidized home support, you will likely receive service from the home support agency that is designated for your neighbourhood/community. If the care receiver/family has a particular preference about home support agencies, this may be expressed to the Case Manager; however, there would need to be a strong rationale for using an agency outside of the designated geographic one.

A financial assessment will be done to determine eligibility for home support and other home care services.

Something to bear in mind regarding home care is that it probably will not be the same community health worker who comes each time to provide assistance. It may be helpful for families to know this in advance, particularly if the home care assistance involves intimate personal care, such as bathing. If this is a matter of concern, it may be something to discuss with the Long Term Care Case Manager.

Home support hours are authorized within the context of an ongoing care plan. This plan is based on individual needs and therefore the number of hours approved may go up or down as the needs change. If you have questions or concerns about the number of hours of home care for which you or your family member has been deemed eligible, you may wish to contact the Client Relations Office of your regional health authority (also see Section 6 for a more complete discussion of this appeal/review process). Non-subsidized home care generally costs range from $22.00 - 30.00 per hour dependant on the services required.

As noted above, it is the Case Manager (rather than the care receiver/ family) who arranges for the subsidized home support service. If additional/ non- subsidized home support and/or other home-based care services are required, these arrangements need to be made by the care receiver or family.

When arranging for home support privately.

Private home support agencies offer a wide range of services, including case coordination by a registered nurse, personal care by licensed practical nurses or home support workers, assistance with housekeeping and laundry, meal preparation, handyman services, shopping services, companion services, transportation services, and respite services. Not all agencies necessarily provide this full array of services, so it is important to discuss what the agency offers when you make enquiries.

In addition, in the BC Capital Region, some home-based care services are quite specialized. For example, The Foot Friend provides home-based professional nursing foot care. For more information about various private home support and home-based care agencies, contact the Family Caregivers’ Network or check your local yellow pages under Home Support Services.

The Family Caregivers’ Network strongly recommends that you check for references and legal liabilities of home care agencies; the FCNS does not make endorsements of any agencies. If you live outside the BC Capital Region, check your Yellow Pages listings under Home Care, Home Health Services and Supplies, House and Apartment Cleaning, Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Personal Services Bureaus and any other relevant categories.

In arranging privately for home care, it may be helpful to ask particular questions of the agencies you are considering. Some important questions include3:

  • What services does the agency provide?
  • How long has the agency been in business?
  • Is the agency insured or bonded?  Are the workers bonded?
  • Does the agency supply references for itself and its employees?
  • What type of training is required of employees?
  • Will the same person come to the home each time?
  • Will a supervisor oversee the quality of care that is being received?
  • Does the agency perform an in- home assessment and create a care plan based on this assessment?
  • Will the caregiver or care receiver get a copy of the care plan?
  • What are the agency's operating hours?
  • How flexible is the agency (with regard to its hours)?
  • What are the fees? Is there a sliding scale? Are there payment plan options?
  • What are the financial procedures for billing, fee payment, insurance coverage?
  • How does the agency deal with emergencies, holidays, and sick days?
  • Who does the individual or caregiver contact, if dissatisfied with the service?

An alternative to arranging home support service with an agency is to hire an individual to provide home support services. If you are considering this option, some questions you may want to ask of the applicant include:

  • Why are you interested in providing home care?
  • What are some of your past experiences with home care?
  • What training do you have in home care?
  • Are you currently providing care for others?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • How much time can you commit to this position?
  • Are there any duties that you are unwilling or unable to do?
  • What will you do if there is an emergency?
  • Have you handled an emergency situation before? What happened?
  • How would you deal with someone who may resist your care?
  • What will you do if you are sick and cannot come in?
  • Are you bonded and can you provide a police check?
  • Do you have references? Check them carefully.

Rather than going through an agency, some people contract directly with an individual to provide home support services.

In making a decision regarding either the home support agency or the individual, questions that you and the care receiver may ask yourselves include:

  • Are you and the care receiver comfortable with the agency/individual?
  • Does the applicant have the skills the position requires?
  • Do you trust the applicant, especially in emergency situations?
  • Are the personalities of the applicant and the care receiver compatible?

3. Source for the questions provided in this section: