Finding a care agency to suit mother’s needs
May 25, 2020

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Q: My mother isn’t a resident in Massachusetts but I am hoping you might have some suggestions on how to handle a problem with the care she is receiving at home. Originally we hired two private pay workers, they both have been more than satisfactory. Later additional help was needed so I contacted an agency to fill in gaps of service. Several times a male aide was scheduled and I was not informed about this ahead of time. The other shifts have been female aides but they are constantly changing. Due to my mother’s advanced age and confusion she has become agitated, she doesn’t deal well with change and has become fearful of strange men. The workers from the agency haven’t done anything wrong, it is just too confusing. Should I find another agency?

A: You have several options to consider, try to resolve the problems you have encountered with the current agency, find another agency or attempt to hire additional private pay workers. It doesn’t appear finances are a concern and since you already have private independent workers in the home you are apparently familiar with your legal responsibilities in regards to taxes. The disadvantage is potentially not having a back-up plan if the private worker is unable to fill a shift.

Schedule a meeting with the current provider to voice your concerns and be honest about what your expectations are in regards to the aides they are sending into your mother’s home. If your wishes were not clearly stated in the very beginning of hiring the agency perhaps they should be given the opportunity to make corrections. It is important for an aide not only to be skilled in their job but also to be a good match with the care recipient. Stress it is important to have consistent caregivers as opposed to different people in and out of the home. Directly ask if in the future the agency will be able to fully meet your needs and wants.

If you determine it is in your mother’s best interest to contract with a new agency do some homework before making a decision. Ask friends, neighbors and your mother’s physician for feedback on agencies they might be familiar with. You can also call the Administration on Aging’s Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to get a list of licensed agencies in the area where your mother resides. Set up interviews with each agency you are considering. Be very clear in describing your mother’s functional status, tasks that will need to be accomplished and her likes/dislikes. Be upfront about your mother’s fearful reaction to male aides and you want the same workers for each shift. If the agency reacts negatively then they most likely will not prove to be the right choice. You do need to be realistic to some point about the demand for in-home workers in some areas of the country due to those individuals recovering at home after being diagnosed with COVID-19.


Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available to offer assistance. Call 1-800-892-0890 (for the 23 cities and towns of the Merrimack Valley) or 978-750-4540 (for the 5 towns in the North Shore).

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Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.

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