#10 What provisions are there for backup care? Who do you call if no one shows up? Does the agency have someone on call? After hours? What provisions are there for care during a disaster?
Backup care is always asked about when people are shopping around for a senior care agency. A family member wants to know that they are not going to have to take off work and stay home with their mom or dad if the caregiver calls in sick. They wantto know the agency can get someone last minute, even at night. And they want to know that in an emergency,their mom or dad will not go ignored.
Let's face it when you have children and you hire a private sitter, you expect that if the sitter calls in sick then you are going to be scrambling to find someone to watch your kids so you don't miss work. Many people who have an aging parent that has moved in with them and are now using a caregiver have that same worry. Hiring an individual caregiver means that you are the employer and if the caregiver calls in sick…you miss work or that tennis match you were supposed to play in, or whatever you had on your schedule. Hiring an agency means you have the opportunity to have a backup plan. Most agencies have caregivers whose job is to be a backup person. They do not have regularly scheduled clients specifically so that they can be available to cover a shift if someone is sick. Now does this guarantee that the agency will be able to provide you with your perfect caregiver when your regular person is out? Chances are good that the answer is more than likely "no". This is usually because many clients are so attached to the caregiver who takes care of them day in and day out, that no one is seen as good enough. The important question to know is if the agency is going to do everything in their power to send a backup person to get you through the day.
The advice I always give is to please be flexible with someone who is filling in. They aren't going to automatically know how your mom or dad likes things done and they aren't going to know where everything is. Often times they may have to move the schedule away from the normal visit times. These issues are pretty typical so a little flexibility can go a long way to making the shift go by with ease.
As for emergencies, you can never go wrong with an agency that cares about both their clients and employees. Weather is the typical emergency most caregivers will face when it comes to scheduling. If bad weather is the problem,the agency should have a plan in place that they can inform caregivers what to do. Usually the instruction is to "stay put". This allows the agency to know that their employees are not on the road and are safe either coming in late for clients who can be flexible on scheduling or by staying late at a client's home if it is too dangerous to drive home. Safe employees and clients are always more important that keeping to the schedule.