Comparing Service Providers

  1. Think about what things are most important to you and your family member and let prospective agencies know that these are non-negotiable.
  2. Avoid making assumptions about what a support provider will or will not do. Always ask.
  3. Keep track of promises and agreements made with support providers and write them down.
  4. Save all of the information you gather in a binder to assist in organizing your thoughts about service providers and options.
  5. Be careful in wording questions to assure you get the information you need.
  6. Do not accept vague or incomplete answers to your questions. When this occurs, ask the person to respond in a more clear manner.
  7. Listen carefully to the language used by staff. Words often convey agency-wide attitudes and a lot about the agency’s philosophy.
  8. When asking questions to find out how the agency does things, use examples from your family members life. Ask staff how they would handle “real-life” situations that are likely to come up.
  9. Compare the degree to which the agencies to whom you speak appear to be interested in providing supports to your family member.
  10. Keep track of whether the persons to whom you speak ask questions about the preferences and needs of your family member and the type of supports you desire.
  11. Pay attention to how informed staff are about community resources. It is likely that if staff are not knowledgeable about such resources, residents will rarely be able to use them.

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