You may not realize it but that is a valid question.

Bringing in a homecare agency to help with a loved one is a pivotal moment in the lives of all the family members involved.  There are many factors involved in the decision about which agency to choose. Not the least of those is who’s running the show? Who is running that agency?  Are the owners local? Are they your neighbors? Or are they in some corporate office on the other side of the country?

While this is not always the case, it often follows that the larger the company, the larger the focus on the bottom line. While a local private owner is making decisions that are in the best interests of the client, a large corporation with offices or franchises across the country may be looking at profit just as much.

And that leads to another question. If the owners are not local, what do you know about the franchisee or local manager? Did someone buy a franchise because it was their heart’s desire to run a homecare agency or because it was a good business opportunity? What experience does that franchise owner have in caring for your loved one?

If the answer is little to none that obviously creates a whole new set of problems. Do these people know how to properly supervise the caregivers they are sending to your home? If the franchise owners do not have healthcare experience how will they know what to look for? Local owners mean local contacts. It is likely local owners have been working with other local providers for years. If a client needs other services such as equipment, therapy or communication with a physician’s office, the owners of the local agency can likely pick up the phone and in minutes find the right people to assist the client.

I understand there is often the perception that bigger is better but that may not be true in this case. There are standards for care from the state and federal government that every homecare agency in the state of Florida must follow. A locally owned agency knows just what needs to happen in Florida. A national company with franchise everywhere is juggling regulations from 50 different states, along with national regulations.

So it’s important to add the initial question – where are the owners – along with all the others raised here when you are making this pivotal decision for your family.

By Sally Dahlem

Sally Dahlem is a partner at Home by Choice, which provides private-duty homecare services. She and her business partner, John Markham, have more than 35 years of experience in home healthcare, assisted living, long-term care and the medical equipment industries.