Home care agencies are continuing to grow in popularity thanks to the ageing population and the number of older Americans who prefer to be cared for in the comfort of their own homes. Starting a home care agency has great potential to be a rewarding business enterprise, as there is a great demand for these services.


Skilled vs. Non-Medical Home Care Agency

Initially, it is of vital importance that the distinction between starting a skilled vs a non-medical home care agency is understood. Non-medical home care agencies provide services such as personal care, assisting with daily living activities, preparing meals, housekeeping, running errands, and transportation. Such services are often vital for elderly people to remain safe and comfortable in their homes. For non-medical care, private pay rather than 3rd party billing sources tend to be the most popular payment option. 

As the name implies, medical skilled home care agencies administer licensed nursing care and rehabilitation services under the order of a physician with strict guidelines. Because medical home care agencies require a number of strict, extensive licensures such as Medicaid and Medicare certifications, many newcomers consider the less complicated non-medical care option which generally has cheaper start-up costs. 

Starting a Non-Medical Home Care Agency

Your next step is to determine whether you’d like to start a home care business on your own, or team up with a home care franchise company. Although there are pros and cons for both options, many newcomers opt to team up with a franchise at it provides a business model, guidance for starting up, and is a source of ongoing support. Launching a home care business on your own will generally have lower start-up costs, but requires more independence with business strategies. If you choose the independent option, it’s important that you write a detailed business plan before you begin. 

Training and Medical Experience

In order to set up a non-medical home care agency, there is no previous training or experience in the medical field required. Although many people who begin home care agencies are trained in some aspect of the medical field, this is by no means a prerequisite. Many people who start a home care agency find that strong organizational and planning skills, along with a well planned out business strategy are more fundamental to success. 

Basic Requirements

As with setting up any business, there are number of basic requirements that apply to starting a home care agency. These include:
  1. Set Up Business Entity – You will need to set up the business entity that best meets your needs. Choosing whether your business is listed as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, partnership, S corporation or C corporation will take some research and careful planning with an attorney to determine the appropriate business structure. 
  2. Obtain Employer ID – You will be required to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This is similar to your personal social security number and will identify your business in regards to tax liability. 
  3. Register With Secretary of State – Registering your business with Secretary of State means that you will need to decide on a business name and check domain name availability in your state when setting up your website. Once approved, you will need to have letterheads, brochures and business cards printed. 
  4. Check License Requirements – Check the requirements needed for a city or county business license and apply as necessary. 
  5. Prepare Finances – You will need to set up a business bank account and credit card account, and apply for any needed business loans to help with start-up costs. You should also set up an accounting system and purchase home care software.
  6. Establish a Policy and Procedures Manual – You will need to either write or purchase a pre-written policy and procedures manual to address policies regarding patient care plans, new client admissions, orientation, scheduling, employee and payroll records, client billing, and in-service training. 
  7. Hire Caregivers – As your business’ reputation weighs heavily on the standard of care given, it’s important that you find and hire caregivers who are the best in their field. Post employment advertisements on relevant job vacancy sites, in local newspapers, and at local colleges with nursing and care programs. Spend time interviewing prospective employees and thoroughly checking references in order to find staff who are professional, competent, compassionate and resourceful. 
  8. Get Referrals – Determine the best sources for referrals in your area by connecting with local doctors, senior centers and rehab outpatient centers in order to reach out to prospective clients. 
Remember that attitude is everything! Never lose sight of why you began a home care business.

(Image: CTO)

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