Simple Steps to Choose the Right In-Home Caregiver

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By Dawn Klavon

Sponsored by Southern Made Home Health Care

‘There’s no place like home’ is an iconic phrase, and it resonates with many who love the peace and security they find in their own home. This is particularly true for many seniors, who want to grow old in a familiar, comfortable environment. Many relate years, even decades, of wonderful memories and experiences with their home, and don’t wish to disrupt their living arrangement at an advanced age.

There comes a point, however, where seniors may need care, and home health care may be a viable option. Finding the right home health care provider can seem a daunting task.

“Finding the right caregiver can be crucial for any family,” said Shamira Westmoreland, owner of Southern Made Home Health Care in Woodbridge. “Families should make a plan to find the best fit for their loved ones.”

Here are a few simple steps to start your home health care provider search:

Consider Your Needs (Or Your Loved One’s Needs)

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are numerous kinds of home health care services:

  • Companion services: Help with supervision, recreational activities and visiting.
  • Personal care services: Help with bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, exercising and other personal care.
  • Homemaker services: Help with housekeeping, shopping and meal preparation.
  • Skilled care: Help with wound care, injections, physical therapy and other medical needs provided by a licensed health professional.

If it’s been decided that you (or your loved one for whom you are helping make major decisions) would benefit from home health care, considering what you need help with is a great place to start your journey. Make a list of all the tasks you would need help with: dressing/grooming, housekeeping, transportation, meal prep, etc.

  • Is there a particular time of day that would be best for you to have a caregiver at your home?
  • Do you have any physical or emotional limitations or health considerations?
  • Does the caregiver need any qualifications? Be as specific as possible in your initial list; it will help you, and a health care service, as you move forward.

It would also be helpful to assess your budget for hiring a home health care employee.

Ask Around

Within your own network of friends, family, and doctors, find recommendations. It’s helpful to hear about experiences from those you trust in order to obtain referrals and advice in the selection process.

“Reach out to local aging organizations, ask colleagues, ask support groups or church members,” Westmoreland said. “You’ll be surprised how many of your contacts may know a home health care provider.”

Contact Home Care Providers

  • Your first step is to call them to screen home care providers to see if their services meet your needs.
  • If you move forward, interview them in your home and have questions ready to ask. If possible, have another person present at the interviews to be able to discuss the interactions and information later.
  • It’s important to check references. Some agencies perform criminal background checks. Ask if these have been conducted.
  • Agencies should be able to articulate COVID vaccination information of their employees, as well as details on face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) required of staff. It is also a good idea to talk to other clients who have worked with the provider.
  • Questions to ask a Home Health Care provider company. In regard to their Operations:
    • How long has the agency been in business?
    • Is the agency licensed or accredited?
    • Are the employees bonded and insured?
    • Does the agency offer a visit from a registered nurse prior to start of service?
    • What kind of quality control checks are made by supervisory personnel and how frequently are they made?
    • Who is available if problems arise? Is 24-hour call-in to a registered nurse available?
    • What happens if an aide doesn’t show up?
    • Are there a minimum number of hours or days per week required by the agency?
    • Is there 24-hour care in case of an emergency?
    • In regard to Staff: What kind of criminal background checks are performed for prospective employees?
    • Are references checked? How many?
    • What kind of experience/certification do the aides have before they are hired?
    • What type of training does the company provide to employees? Does training cover Alzheimer’s and dementia care?
    • Who pays the worker’s social security or other insurance?
    • Is there a care plan in writing for each client?
    • Will the same person be providing care on a regular basis?
    • Are agency references available to check the level of client satisfaction?
    • Can I interview the employee? Is there a fee for this?
    • Does the aide have reliable transportation?
    • If specialized medical care is needed, are employees licensed to perform?
    • In regard to Costs: What is the cost of the service?
    • Are there additional costs for weekends, holidays or other times?
    • What is the billing procedure? Do you pay the agency or the aide directly?
    • Does the agency bill Medicare or other insurance directly for covered services?

Westmoreland said reputable home health care agencies will welcome your questions and happily respond, to make sure you have all the input you need to make an informed decision. 

Interview the Individual Care Providers.

Finding the right person to come to your home is vital, so be sure to plan an interview with the potential candidates in your home.

  • Questions to ask the individual care provider: How long have you been working in the field?
  • What made you become a professional caregiver?
  • Are you quiet or talkative?
  • What sorts of hobbies do you enjoy?
  • How often will you evaluate and update a written care plan?
  • What is your policy for communicating with a client and their family members?
  • Can you give me examples of how you deal with a stressful situation?
  • What kind of food can you cook? Have you had experience cooking for others?
  • Are you trained in first aid and CPR?
  • Can you provide references? Have you undergone background checks?
  • Are you available at the times needed? Are there a minimum number of hours you require?
  • Are you able to manage our specific health and behavioral care needs?
  • Is there anything you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with?

It would be helpful for the candidates if you would describe a typical day and duties.

Hire Health Caregiver, But Follow Up

Check with family and other caregivers to get their perspectives and make a decision on the best caregiver to fit your needs. Remember, there’s an adjustment period as everyone is settling in to the new arrangement. Be open and transparent with the caregiver as you move forward, resolving any issues that may arise.

“Every new connection may take a bit of adjustment,” Westmoreland said. “But clients come to rely on their caregivers, and really enjoy their company.”

Southern Made Home Health Care in Woodbridge offers a wide range of personalized home care services which enable seniors and other people with disabilities to live independently within the comfort of their homes. Staff are certified to deliver a wide range of services needed and will always display professionalism and do exceptional work, Westmoreland said, adding that they guarantee continuous, trustworthy service and outstanding customer service.

Find out more about Southern Made Home Care:

12531 Clipper Dr, Suite 202-8, Woodbridge, VA 22192 | 703-490-2273 (CARE) |

Bonded & Insured


Dawn Klavon is a journalist, author, media director and recent transplant to NOVA. She thrives on juggling multiple projects, discovering local hot spots, consuming blue crab and conquering sudoku puzzles. Dawn can be reached at



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