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Education Center

Home Care Crossroads: Placement Agency vs. Full-Service Agency

February 1, 2016


At first blush, researching home care options can seem daunting. With so many agencies popping up, each making a case for its ability to serve your loved one, it would be understandable if you felt overwhelmed.  A clarifying step, however, is choosing whether to retain a placement agency or a full-service agency. There are three major considerations in making the decision between a placement or full-service option: time, money and your gut instinct.




If you have an abundance of time, and the ability to take more of a hands-on role in supervising the home care provided to your loved one, then a placement agency may be a fit.  Placement agencies will do the leg work of finding an experienced caregiver for a specific client. They will also vet the caregiver, using third-party companies to thoroughly examine the caregiver’s background.  But if you are pressed for time, then you should be aware of placement agencies’ limitations. They help you find a quality caregiver, and that’s about it. Once the caregiver is in place, the client then becomes the employer.  In effect, you becomethe home care agency. For some people, such an arrangement causes headaches. For example, not only would you be responsible for making sure the caregiver shows up on time, but you would be required to fulfill all employer tax requirements for that caregiver.  And if the caregiver falls ill, or is otherwise unable to work a pre-arranged shift, then you are on the hook to find someone else.




By contrast, full-service agencies are a “turnkey” approach to home care. When you hire the agency, you are paying for precisely what the name implies: full service.  This type of agency holds all of the state-required insurances and licensures , eliminating all the risks that might occur with a placement agency.  A full-service agency employs a number of qualified caregivers whom they have fully vetted and consistently monitor to ensure credentials are up to date.  In the event that a selected caregiver cannot work a given shift, a full service agency would fill the shift with another worker.  Full-service agencies also carry liability and worker’s compensation insurance, whereas anyone retaining a placement agency could incur those costs if the caregiver suffers an injury while on the job.


Your Gut Instinct


The time-versus-money tension is very real. Beyond that, though, planning home care is an especially sensitive moment in your family’s life, and it is important to look at it from as many angles as possible.  Full-service agencies can make the transition much easier and leave little or nothing to fear. Meanwhile, a placement agency usually is less expensive since there are no licensers (licensures?) or insurances to hold—although the flip side of that coin is you carry much more responsibility, as we have noted.  In the end, it comes down to your “gut”—what is it telling you?

Here’s a scenario to consider:

Your mom is a 76-year-old stroke survivor just arriving home from rehabilitation.  You have chosen an agency and once the preliminary pairing has been made for your mother and her caregiver, the care begins.  The first day goes fine, but then on the second day, you are at your office working to beat a deadline when the phone rings. It’s your mom, who has been sitting alone and waiting for her caregiver to arrive for the past hour.  At that point, you have a call to make: will it be to a full-service agency that will make the situation right—or else? Or will you be trying to track down your brand-new employee?


Based in Oak Park and operating throughout Chicagoland, ARIS at home is a family-owned provider of  compassionate, quality in-home care. ARIS stands for Accountability, Respect, Integrity and Service. Visit www.arisathome.com or contact info@arisathome.com

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