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Home Care Agency or Independent Caregiver

Home Care Agency vs. Private Caregivers: Weighing Your Options

After deciding to hire a caregiver for an elderly loved one, you’ll have a few more important decisions to make. The first decision you’ll face is whether to hire a caregiver privately or enlist the help of a home care agency.

To point you in the right direction, we’ll help you understand the differences between using a home care agency or hiring a private caregiver and review the pros and cons of each service so you can weigh your options.

Differences Between Home Care Agencies & Private Caregivers

No matter what your preference is, it’s best to understand the types of issues that drive your choices. Let’s look at the differences between home care agencies and private caregivers.

Home Care Agency

A professional home care agency is a licensed business that recruits and hires caregivers to make them available for seniors who need in-home assistance. Caregivers may provide medical care or non-medical care, depending on the need.

Medical care is provided by nurses or nursing assistants, whereas personal care can include meal preparation, feeding, bathing, grooming, etc. Personal caregivers have professional training.

Private Caregivers

What is a private caregiver? Family members or seniors directly employ private caregivers without the assistance of a home care agency.

Some independent caregivers are qualified to provide medical care, but they generally work for home care agencies. You’ll likely encounter more personal caregivers when hiring independently.

The main difference between home care agencies vs. private caregivers is that the hiring person becomes the caregiver’s employer. As such, the employer is responsible for payroll and meeting other employer obligations such as workers’ compensation insurance.

Pros and Cons: Home Care Agency or Independent Caregiver?

One of the deciding factors for many people who need a caregiver is how much the services cost. Private caregivers typically cost less than hiring a caregiver through an agency. However, you also have to consider the value you’re getting for your money.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of using a home care agency.


  • Caregivers are insured so you won’t be liable if the caregiver is injured or involved in a liability incident.
  • The agency takes care of workers’ compensation so you don’t have to, and that saves you money.
  • Home care agencies will provide a substitute caregiver if your regular caregiver isn’t available for work, otherwise, you’re on the hook for care.
  • Caregivers are bonded through an agency, which protects you from theft, whereas, independent caregivers aren’t bonded.
  • Agencies take care of the training, disciplinary action, and terminating caregivers that don’t work out.
  • The agency takes care of all tax forms and they verify that the caregiver can legally work in the United States, which saves you the time and trouble of doing it.


  • Using an agency costs more than hiring a private caregiver.
  • You may have more than one caregiver.

Is It Better to Work with a Home Care Agency or Hire a Private Caregiver?

You only have to look at the pros and cons list to realize that there are a lot of benefits to working with a home care agency.

Beyond considering the costs you have to pay versus the value in what you’re getting, perhaps the biggest deterrent of hiring a private caregiver is having to take on the role of an employer. Not everyone is willing or capable of dealing with the tax implications, worker’s compensation insurance, and other responsibilities that employers have to contend with. As an employer, you also have to know the laws about hiring, firing, minimum hours, and pay.

Another big challenge in hiring private caregivers is that the caregiver may not have the skills your loved one needs now or in the future. What’s more, if you need a nurse at a later date, one could be difficult to find without the help of an agency.

Why Choose an Agency?

The reasons for choosing to work with a home care agency are simple. You won’t have to hire a caregiver, check the person’s qualifications, or take care of insurance or taxes. You can pick and choose the services your loved one needs at the exact time they need them.

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. In the end, you have to do what’s best for your family. If your needs are minor, a private caregiver might fit the bill. As your loved ones’ needs increase, it may be appropriate to make the switch to a home care agency.

Our professionals at Good Hands Home Care are happy to help you assess your needs and explore all the possibilities. If a professionally trained home care agency caregiver in Pennsylvania is right for you, call Good Hands Home Care at 610-285-1095 to learn more.