Frequently Asked Questions

How long have you been in business?
Since 2007.

Where do you operate geographically?
Monroe County and the Finger Lakes Region.

Who owns the company?
Brothers Mark and Tom McDermott

How many employees do you have?
Over 100

Is the company a franchise?
Yes. We are a locally owned franchise. The franchisor Touching Hearts at Home is based in Minneapolis, MN. This company was founded by CEO Renae Peterson in 1996.

Is your company licensed?
Our company is registered to do business in NY, but we are not a licensed home health care company for a reason –  we do not need a license.  A license is only needed to provide medical and personal care services, which we do not provide.  We provide only non-medical companion care services.

Does your company have insurance?
Yes. Our caregivers are bonded and insured. We have workers compensation insurance that would cover an injury our caregiver might suffer on the job in a client’s home. We also have disability insurance for our employees. In addition, our company has general liability insurance that covers our business operations, including but not limited to client property loss.

Our Clients

Do you only serve only older adults?
No. Our services can be effectively utilized by anyone depending on their needs and circumstances such as people with chronic health conditions or developmental disabilities.

Do you serve people with disabilities?
Yes. We serve persons with mental and physical disabilities that present challenges to their living independently in their homes.

Do you serve older adults who have already moved into assisted living, enriched living, skilled nursing and memory care facilities?
Yes. We serve folks wherever they live and call home. Senior facilities sometimes face staffing challenges and call on us (or ask families to call on us) to help provide one-on-one care where additional help is needed, such as during move-in transitions, and to prevent exit seeking behaviors, higher risk of falls and disruptive behaviors.

Our Services

What does the term ‘companion care’ mean?
This term refers to nonmedical assistance, including but not limited to social companionship, housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, laundry, shopping, errands, chores, medication reminders, safety monitoring and respite care.It does NOT include nursing or home health aide services.

Do you provide ‘hands on’ personal care like bathing, toileting, dressing and personal grooming?
No. However, we can provide some effective assistance to clients to accomplish these tasks themselves, to make it easier and safer for them. Some examples: ‘stand by’ assist for walking and showering to reduce the risk of falling; clients can lean on our extended arms when getting up or sitting down; prepare the bathroom for safety; hand clients items in their bathing and toileting; assist with socks and shoes.  In cases where dementia is involved, we can provide prompting, coaching and encouragement for people who are physically able but require guidance.

What times of the day, week and year do you provide services?
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year

Who decides what services I get? How is that determined?
We decide together.  Every person is unique. Determining appropriate services is a collaborative effort with the client’s needs at the center of the discussion. The discussion may include others involved in the client’s care, such as family members, social workers, discharge planners, medical staff and other care workers. We meet with the client and all appropriate people before we start service. There is no cost or obligation connected with this initial meeting. The end result is a written Plan of Care that outlines the services we will provide.

Will you coordinate services with other companies and individuals involved in my care?
Yes.  We are very willing and able to coordinate our services with family members, friends, visiting nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, home health aides, etc.  Circumstances may change over time and we can change our work schedules accordingly.

Can I make schedule changes if something comes up?
Yes. We ask for 24 hours notice of cancelling a visit and 72 hours for cancelling our service entirely. We fully understand that some situations of care are unpredictable and require last minute changes. We also understand that clients’ care needs change over time and schedules may change, too. Of course, the more notice we have about schedule changes, the better.

How can I cancel service?
We ask for 72 hours notice of cancellation by speaking directly with someone in our office. If we receive less than 24 hours notice, then we charge for the visit, unless cancellation was due to medical emergency.

How does the company ensure I am getting the best quality service from my caregiver?
First, we have very high hiring standards and extensive applicant screening. After we assign a caregiver to a client we follow up in various ways, including: phone calls to ensure clients are satisfied; daily caregiver voicemail reports; scheduled client visits; unscheduled client visits for impromptu observations; and client surveys. We also employ an independent survey organization called Home Care Pulse to survey 10% of our clients every month to gain input about how we are performing for them. Finally, we always encourage clients and their families to let us know if they are unhappy with our caregivers in any way, in which case we take whatever corrective action is appropriate, including possibly changing caregivers.

Whose vehicle is used for my transportation, yours or mine?
Either one – it’s your choice.

If I want only transportation, will Touching Hearts provide that service alone?
Yes, however, the minimum hours and visit requirements must be met, which often cannot be in “transportation-only” cases. (Please call us to discuss minimums.)

Whose housekeeping equipment and supplies are used for cleaning my home, yours or mine?
We use your equipment and supplies. If you don’t have the proper supplies then we can go to the store for you and get them.

With meal preparation, who provides the food, you or me?
We prepare your food. We can help with meal planning and shopping if you’d like us to.

If a caregiver has prepared a meal for me, does the caregiver have to eat with me?
No. You have no obligation to provide meals to our caregiver, and they do not expect to take meals with you. However, if you prefer to enjoy a meal together, you may feel free to ask our caregiver to join you.

Can you give a person medication?
We cannot set up or administer medication, but we can help a lot in ensuring medications are taken properly. We can provide medication reminders, coaching and encouragement. We can notify interested parties if a client has not properly taken medications. We can pick up medication at the store. We can report if any other problems arise with medication compliance.

Our Caregivers

What qualifications do you look for when you hire caregivers?
First and foremost, we look for people who are reliable, compassionate and enjoy serving others. We then identify those who are mature and personable. We look for experience (personal and/or professional) caring for older adults and people with disabilities and chronic health conditions. The ability to excel at performing our core services – cooking, cleaning, transportation, laundry, etc. – are also important qualifications.

How do screen your caregivers before hiring them?
We screen and interview all candidates. We run a national criminal background check based on state and county criminal records.  We check their NY driver’s record. All caregivers must also pass our pre-employment orientation program before they are placed with a client.

Do you run background checks on your job applicants?
Yes. We run a national criminal background check of state and county records.  We check applicants’ NY driver’s record, too.

How do you determine which caregiver to assign to me?
We always try to find the best match for each client. We first consider the personal qualities in a caregiver that you have told us are important. Then we consider which caregivers have the right experiences and skills to meet your needs. Finally, we consider where the caregiver lives and when they are available to work.

What happens if I don’t like the person assigned to be my caregiver?
We will simply make a change if you don’t like the person we have assigned to you. We understand that the ‘chemistry’ is important in providing companion care, and we want you to be totally comfortable with your caregiver.

Will I have the same caregiver for every visit?
It depends on your schedule and needs. We understand how important continuity is in companion care. We strive to keep as few caregivers as possible involved in your care. However, sometimes it is unavoidable, and even desirable, to have more than one person assigned to a client.

Am I required, or permitted, to give gratuities or gifts to caregivers?

Do you employ registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, certified nurse assistants and home health aides?
We have no nursing or home health aide positions in our company because we do not perform medical services. However, it does so happen that some of our companion caregivers have these qualifications in their background and we view these qualifications as positive.

What training do caregivers receive at your company?
Each new applicant must complete a pre-employment half day training program that covers care giving practices, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, safety, and company policies. Both before and after orientation, we have mandatory web-based training modules that further develop our caregivers’ skills.  We hold periodic mandatory in-person training in our office on topics like fall prevention, handling difficult behaviors, etc. Additionally, we provide caregivers with on-the-job training and coaching.

If a caregiver is injured in my home do you have insurance for that?
Yes. We have workers compensation insurance to cover employee injuries while ‘on the job’ in clients’ homes or elsewhere.

Getting Started

How do I begin services?
We can start on very short notice by having a fact gathering meeting to gain a clear mutual understanding of expectations. This can be done immediately any time of day convenient for our client. There is no cost or obligation related to this meeting. Once a Client Service Plan is developed and a Service Agreement is signed, we can begin. This whole process can normally be completed within a few hours of us being contacted, if necessary.

Can I interview caregivers before they are assigned to me?
No, though you always have the right to change caregivers. Our normal process is not to have clients or their family members interview caregivers, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Frankly, we find that simply beginning service and trying out the relationship is the best way to determine whether the match between caregiver and client will work. Usually, it takes several visits to see if the match is strong. Our success rate in matching caregivers and clients right from the start is extremely high. Remember, we can always quickly change caregivers if the client so chooses.

How do I schedule visits?
Visits are scheduled with our office staff, not with our caregivers. We can schedule well in advance, or on a short term basis, as the situation requires.

Do you require a contract?
We require our clients to sign a Service Agreement, which is a straight forward 1 page document mainly intended to ensure costs and terms are clearly understood. This agreement does not require a long term commitment from clients. The Service Agreement specifically states that clients can discontinue our service with 72 hours notice of cancellation without any cancellation charge.

Costs & Billing

What does your service cost?
We can discuss costs with you only we have a full understanding of each client’s situation and needs.  Please contact us.

Does insurance pay for your services?
Some long term care insurance policies pay for our services. It depends on the individual policy. We can work with your insurance company to help you qualify for payment for our services. Medical insurance does not pay because we do not provide medical services, rather companion care services.

How do you bill for your services?
We bill and send invoices twice a month. Our preferred method of payment is “autopay” from a bank account, i.e. pre-authorizing us to take the correct funds from a client’s bank account when our semi-monthly billing is complete. We do not accept credit card payments.
Revision date: March 2021