Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome! You Have Questions, We Have Answers
Scroll through the questions below and click on them to see the answers. If there are additional questions that are not answered here, please contact us.
How Do I Know When My Loved Ones Need Help?
Those who are aging are people in transition. The loss of family members and friends, a change in living arrangements or finances, retirement, the loss of driving privileges, or even the death of a pet are lifestyle transitions that require the entire family’s attention. Ideally, our elders will ask for our help during times like these. But as family members have learned, this may not happen. In fact, one aging parent might cover for the other, or one aging spouse may decline assistance from the other because he or she feels ashamed and powerless. For these reasons, it’s very important that family and friends keep a close eye on their loved ones, looking for signs that they need help.
Things may seem normal on the outside. Some changes are barely noticeable. Once in a while, we all forget details or put things off, but when a pattern of neglect develops, it may be serious. Remember, mental deterioration is not a normal part of aging. Sharpen your observational skills and look for patterns of consistent neglect within the follow contexts:
Basic Tasks: Difficulty in walking, dressing, talking, eating, cooking, climbing steps, or managing medications
Hygiene: Infrequent bathing; Unusually sloppy appearance; Foul body and/or mouth odor
Responsibilities: Mail is unopened; Papers are piled up; Checkbook is unreadable; Bills are unpaid; Bank account overdraft notices are accumulating; Prescriptions are unfilled; Phone calls aren’t returned; Cooking pots and pans look burned; Refrigerator interior has a foul odor; Food supply is low; Home interior and/or exterior is unkempt; Laundry is piling up; Automobile has new dents
Health: Weight loss; Changes in appetite; Problems swallowing; Fatigue; Burns; Black and blue marks (possible signs of falling); Hearing loss (look for signs of lip reading and talking loudly); Seems withdrawn without reason; Incontinence (bed-wetting); Spilling and dropping things (check carpet for stains); Complaints of muscle weakness; Insomnia or excessive sleeping; Dehydration
Isolation: Lack of interest in outside friendships, activities, or hobbies; Keeps curtains drawn day and night; Has little access to transportation; Lives in another city or state and lives alone
Attitude: Sadness; Display of verbal or physical abuse; Talk of being depressed and feelings of despair; Abuse of alcohol or drugs; Paranoia; Refusal to communicate; Unusual argumentativeness; A recent emotional or medical crisis
Cognitive Functions: Consistent forgetfulness about where things are; Getting lost while walking or driving; Confusion; Loss of reasoning skills; Difficulty answering questions; Inability to find the right word; Use of repetitive words or phrases; Severe personality changes; Wandering; Inability to recall names of familiar people or objects; Inability to complete a sentence; Forgetting how to use simple, ordinary things, such as a pencil or spoon; Forgetting to close windows, turn off the stove, and/or lock doors; Loss of sense of time.
If some of these warning signs are present, and you are beginning to question your loved-one’s ability to make choices and decisions or live alone, don’t scare yourself or overreact, but do seek help. Open a dialogue with your loved one and then call us to schedule a care consultation.
What Are My Options for Senior Care?
There are two general continuums of care: Live Away or Live at Home. Which set of options you choose, may have a lot to do with your financial situation and the living conditions of the home (is it safe for a senior?). Most seniors have a clear preference, though some move back and forth between these two continuums:
Live Away (Move to…):
- 55+ or Lifestyle Apartments
- Independent Living / Retirement Living Communities
- Assisted Living Facilities
- Memory Care
- Skilled Nursing Facilities / Nursing Homes
- Residential Hospice Centers or Acute Care Hospitals
Live at Home (With the help of …):
- Aging Advice (Gerontogists, Doctors, Financial Advisors, GCM’s, Reverse Mortgage, VA Consultants, Medicaid Consultants, and more)
- Assistive Technology (Home Monitoring, Smart Home Tech, Telephone Reassurance Programs, Medical Alerts, Hearing Aids, and more)
- Family Caregivers (When family is available and it’s practical for family members to help)
- Professional Homecare / In-Home Care (non-medical caregivers, such as those provided by Hallmark Homecare)
- Home Health Care (Medical care prescribed by a doctor and rendered at home)
- Home Hospice
For those wishing to stay at home, getting some homecare help as soon as possible is often a key to staying healthy and making the option of staying at home work.
Call us at 631-849-8101, or click here, to review your situation and find out if homecare is the best option for you.
Let’s face it, would you rather move, or would you rather live in the comfort of your own home, enjoying the life of dignity and independence that you deserve? Nearly everyone would prefer to live at home, and professional, in-home caregivers from Hallmark Homecare make it possible.
So, that said…WHY HOME CARE?
- It’s delivered at home.There are such positive feelings that all of us associate with being home. When we are not feeling well, most of us ask to go home. When we are feeling well, we enjoy the sanctity of our residences and the joy of being with our loved ones.
- Homecare keeps families together. There is no more important social value. It is particularly important in times of illness.
- Homecare serves to keep the elderly independent. None of us want to be totally dependent and helpless. With some assistance, seniors can continue to function as viable members of society.
- Homecare prevents or postpones institutionalization. Few patients choose to be placed in a nursing home, unless it’s the only place where they can obtain the 24-hour care that they need.
- Homecare promotes healing. There is abundant evidence that patients heal more quickly at home.
- Homecare is personalized care. Home care is tailored to the needs of each individual. It is delivered on a one-to-one basis.
- Homecare involves the individual and the family in the care that is delivered. The care recipient and his/her family are taught to participate in their health care. They are taught how to get well, and how to stay that way.
- Homecare reduces stress. Unlike most forms of health care, which can increase anxiety and stress, homecare frequently has the opposite effect.
- Homecare is one of the most effective forms of health care. There is very high consumer satisfaction associated with care delivered in the home.
- Homecare is an efficient form of health care. By bringing health services home, the care recipient does not generate board and room expenses. They and/or their family supply the food and tend to the senior’s other needs. Technology now has developed to the point where many services, once only available in a hospital, can be offered at home.
- Homecare is given by special people. By and large, in-home caregivers look at their work, not as a job or profession, but as a calling. Homecare workers are highly trained and dedicated to their work.
- Homecare is, in many cases, less expensive than other forms of care. The evidence is convincing that, for many services, homecare is less expensive than other forms of care. In general, homecare costs only one-tenth as much as hospitalization and only one-fourth as much as nursing home placement to deal with comparable issues related to aging.
- Homecare extends life. A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office has established that people receiving homecare tend to live longer and have a better quality of life. Homecare helps not only add years to life, but “life to years.”
- Home care is the preferred form of care, even for individuals who are terminally ill. There is a growing public acceptance and demand for hospice care, which is homecare for individuals who are terminally ill.
Why delay another moment? Contact Hallmark Homecare today to learn more about how we can match the perfect caregiver with you or your loved one.
What Are My Options for Getting Homecare?
To get good care at home, there are several options:
In almost every area there are hundreds of agencies vying for your business. These agencies operate much like a temporary staffing agency in that they hire caregivers to work for the agency and then assign those caregivers to different clients, as needed.
The agency earns money by charging about 80% to 100% more than they pay the caregivers. This margin is used to cover their expenses in operating their business, as well as a healthy profit.
Unfortunately, our current labor market and economic environment has made it difficult for them to get enough employees to staff all of the hours that clients need, and when they do, the costs have become very high. For these reasons and more, many of the agencies are not able to service those who need a lot of hours or who need more than the most basic non-medical companion or personal care. This has created a large under-served market; a market of people who need a lot of care, such as 24/7 care, but who cannot afford to pay the rates that traditional homecare agencies are charging these days, if they can even find the caregivers to staff the cases.
But Hallmark Homecare has plenty of cream-of-the-crop caregivers and can staff these cases for 30% to 50% less than what agencies currently charge.
Online Registries and Lists:
There are some companies out there that just provide a list of caregivers for you to scroll through, contact, meet, and hire. Think twice (or more) before going this route. Unfortunately, there are a lot of shady characters that populate these directories, seeking to be hired directly by families without the oversight that we or agencies provide. It’s vital that good background checks always be conducted, credentials checked out, insurance secured, payroll set up well, and so much more. These online registries and caregiver lists do not take care of these things for you.
In addition to these deficiencies, they eliminate one of the most vital steps in the caregiver matching process: The personal and knowledgeable facilitation of caregiver selection for your loved one’s needs. One of the things that truly sets Hallmark Homecare apart is the personal touch and professionalism that our Care Coordinators bring to the process of finding your ideal caregiver. The moment you contact us, you are assigned your own Care Coordinator who serves as your one-stop resource and source of support. From your first conversation, you’ll be able to tell that your Care Coordinator is a senior care veteran – a seasoned professional with many years of experience providing knowledgeable consultation and assisting families with important care decisions for their aging loved ones. Your experienced Care Coordinator will not only provide thorough consultation to understand your and your loved one’s situation and care needs, but will also be there to lead you through the process, ensure that it’s as smooth, efficient and easy as possible, and personally make sure that you are 100% satisfied.
Try to “Go It Alone”:
Some families think that they can simply ask around and find help from relatives, neighbors, people at church, and others they meet in the community. This may be a short-term solution while other care is being set up, but it always degenerates into a mess. There is often a lack of professionalism, skill, and responsible behavior. Schedules are often not kept. Resentments arise and relationships are strained. Worst of all, your senior loved one is usually not getting the care and companionship they need. Don’t go it alone! We know the agencies can be expensive. But don’t try to cut costs by hiring a caregiver on your own. There are too many risks.
We offer the best of all worlds. We find you the best caregivers to hire, thoroughly vetted, at a much lower price.
The reason you’re able to save so significantly with our direct-hire model of care is that we cut out the middleman (namely, the agencies) so your caregiver works directly for you, without short-changing you on the vital steps that ensure the delivery of safe, quality, in-home care. By side-stepping agency overhead and profit margins — and instead compensating your professionally-vetted caregiver directly — you’ll be paying 30%-50% less than you would normally pay a senior care agency, while also providing your caregiver with a 30% better hourly wage. That’s a win-win solution for both you and the caregiver tending to your loved one’s needs. Because of the built-in savings with the Hallmark model, you’ll recoup our nominal one-time placement fee very quickly, while experiencing significant, ongoing, monthly savings compared to most of the alternatives.
Moreover, unlike hiring a caregiver on your own, you’ll rest assured knowing that your loved one has consulted with one of our veteran Care Coordinators, has chosen a professionally vetted caregiver who is thoroughly insured and professionally screened using the “best practices” of the senior care field, and you’ll be enjoying more control, consistency and longevity of care. A care coordinator will handle your case by conducting a complete initial consultation, developing an ideal caregiver profile, conducting a search for a professional who matches your needs, checking backgrounds, ensuring that the proper insurance is in place and that payroll is set up properly, implementing management systems and procedures for you, and so much more. Most importantly, we have access to as many high-quality caregivers as you need and we do all of this in a way that saves you a lot of money.
Contact Hallmark Homecare today and take advantage of the wealth of experience that your personal Care Coordinator brings to the table.
What Makes Hallmark the Best Homecare Option?
For families and seniors who want or need a more affordable alternative to in-home care, Hallmark provides just-in-time access to insured, background-checked, credentialed and experienced caregivers with verified professional references. Through Hallmark Homecare, you have access to the best caregivers available, thanks to our years of experience, our rigorous screening process, and our ability to tap a vast network of caregivers throughout the nation.
- Turn Back the Clock on Costs: By cutting out the middleman of the traditional homecare agency, families are able to get higher quality care, more tailored to their specific needs. They are also able to turn back the clock on costs. A decade ago, it was still possible to hire in-home caregivers through an agency for $20 to $25 per hour. Now, most agencies are charging $32 to $40 per hour, and in some markets the costs are as high as $45 per hour! By hiring caregivers directly through Hallmark Homecare, families can turn back the clock to the days when $25 per hour was enough to get excellent care at home.
- The Caregivers Earn a Better Living: By eliminating agency overhead, your ongoing savings allows you to pay your caregiver more than the traditional agencies pay them (on average, 30% more per hour) while YOU still enjoy the 30% or more savings on the cost of care. For you, this means a happier caregiver, better care, and improved caregiver continuity (less turnover).
- We Staff Jobs that Others Can’t: Because caregivers earn more with us, and because they enjoy the relationship they have with the families with whom we place them, we have lots of very high-quality caregivers to choose from. We have direct access to a vast network of over 40,000 professional caregivers across North America, and any caregiver we place is fully credentialed, screened, experienced and insured. We don’t have the labor shortages that agencies are currently experiencing. Because we find caregivers with the credentials and skills needed for each job, we also have the ability to staff cases that most agencies won’t touch because of the medical skills and/or experience needed.
- You Make the Care Decisions, with Our Professional Guidance. Our experienced care coordinator consultation will explain your options and allow you to decide what’s best for you and your loved one – which means you’re in full control of what care is needed and your ideal schedule.
- Scheduling to Your Needs: In most states (37 of them) scheduling is also easier when families hire independent caregivers through us, as opposed to working with an agency. Agencies have been hamstrung by regulations that force them to pay overtime. This has effectively outlawed “live-in care” or extended shifts, and made 24/7 care very expensive. But these rules only apply to agencies. In 37 states, domestic help is exempted from these laws when hired directly by the family, making it much more practical and affordable to do so. Many caregivers want to work extended hours and are looking for these opportunities. Additionally, agencies in most states are governed by regulations that prevent them from performing work that is deemed to be “medical” by the regulatory boards. But independent caregivers are not governed by the same regulations. If your care plan calls for care that includes some actions that are are deemed to be “medical” in nature, we will find you credentialed and skilled caregivers to carry out the care plan.
- We Are always Here to Help: Our Care Coordinators work closely with you for your first 90 days with your caregiver, and beyond that you have unlimited access to our Care Coordinator Hotline for any additional help you might need.
- We Only Place Experienced and Credentialed Caregivers: We at Hallmark require that caregivers be licensed and in good standing as RNs, CNAs, PCAs, LVNs, LPNs, CCAs or equivalent qualifications.
- We Help Protect You: With the Hallmark model, you always get a fully-insured caregiver. We also guide you through the process of arranging appropriate worker’s compensation insurance and automated payroll and tax processing services to ensure household employment compliance. We advocate that caregiver placements meet full legal and tax compliance. We guide you smoothly through the steps to meet household employee obligations to minimize any worry and stress. These are safeguards that protect you and truly set us apart from alternative options, such as hiring caregivers on your own or searching caregiver registries.
- We Recognize that Consistency of Care is Important to You: When we place a caregiver with you that you really like, the duration and scope of services that the caregiver provides is entirely up to you. This is different from an agency that can re-assign your caregiver to other clients, anytime they want or need to do so. Your caregiver works for you, under your control, and will be with you for as long as you desire. It’s your call.
- We Guarantee Satisfaction: If within the first 90 days of service, your caregiver decides to quit or you decide to replace her for whatever reason, we will replace your caregiver for no additional fee.
Hallmark Homecare supports and respects our clients’ right to choice, control, and affordability. Supporting the client-directed model of care (which emphasizes the client’s choice, and the rights of caregivers who serve those clients), we search for and recruit professional caregivers and then “place” them with our clients on a direct-hire basis. Our specialty is connecting experienced, fully insured, trustworthy and reliable in-home caregivers with families seeking to hire in-home care, and our direct-hire model of care saves you 30% or more.
Sound like what you’re looking for? Then please contact us online or give us a call at 1-631-849-8101 to see if we can help you!
Is Hallmark Homecare the Best Option for Everyone?
The short answer is, “No, Hallmark Homecare is not the best option for everyone.”
In every case, we can find higher quality care. But not every case makes sense financially. Because you are paying us a fee to find you a great caregiver, and because the best caregivers want more hours, it’s not very practical if you only need a few hours of care per week. The best caregivers, those who are part of our network, are typically looking for 30 or more hours of work per week. Because we charge a one-time placement fee for our services, your savings per hour can quickly recoup that fee if you are receiving many hours of care. But if you only need a few hours per week of care, it will take a lot longer to cover the fee and start saving money. For anything less than about 20 hours per week, it is usually less expensive to hire an agency. When you need a lot more hours, the placement fee is negligible compared to the savings you realize on every hour of care.
For whom is Hallmark Homecare the best option?
- Those who need more hours of care: Most of our clients are families who want and need 40 hours per week or more of care. The financial threshold, in most cases, for it making sense to have us find you caregivers to hire is somewhere around 20 to 25 hours per week of care. If you need less care than that, it is often more advantageous financially to hire an agency, assuming the agency can get you quality caregivers for the hours you need.
- Those who need 24/7 care, live-in caregivers, longer shifts, or odd shifts: As hours of care increase, so does the available pool of very high-quality caregivers. As hours increase, the financial advantages of using Hallmark Homecare also increase. Laws are also very different when an agency is not involved, making extended hours and other unique arrangements more feasible.
- Seniors who need more than simple companion or personal care: Often, seniors need help with things that are out of the norm for “non-medical” care agencies, such as help with injections, catheters, respirators, colostomy bags, and more. Because we search for and identify caregivers based on the specific skills needed, and because laws are very different for domestic help hired directly by a family, we are able to provide caregivers who can handle cases that “non-medical” care agencies are not able to staff.
- Families with members who can oversee the relationship: Hallmark Homecare can help you to manage the caregiver relationships, but it does help if there are one or more family members, or someone with fiduciary responsibility, who can work with us to get things going.
For more information, and to see what we can do for you, schedule a care consultation. Click here, or call us at 1-631-849-8101.
What is the Hallmark Process for Finding Care?
Our process is a very simple one, but each step is extremely important:
- Contact Us: It all starts with you. Reach out to us by phone at 888-519-2500, or online by clicking here and filling out our Request for Care form. We will schedule a date and time for the next step.
- Consultation: One of our care coordinators will conduct a formatted interview with you, and/or your loved one(s) who needs care. We will ask questions about all of the activities of daily living and how they are being accomplished. We will ask about health concerns and chronic conditions. We will ask about lifestyle, goals, and desired outcomes. In short, we will develop an ideal care plan and an ideal caregiver profile. During this interview, we will also discuss budgets and available funds for care so that we can structure a care plan that meets your financial needs.
- We Conduct a Search: We have thousands of professional caregivers that we work with, but not all of them will be right for you. We will take the ideal caregiver profile we have developed for you and use it to narrow down the pool of available caregivers. Once we have a small pool of candidates, we will interview them to make sure they are the perfect fit for you and your family. During this process, we will begin preliminary background, employment, and credential checks. Our goal is to find between one and three ideal candidates for your opening.
- We Introduce You: Once we have narrowed it down to just a couple of candidates, we introduce you to them. While we have already done the interviewing and vetting of the caregivers, you are welcome to ask them as many questions as you would like to create your own level of satisfaction with them. We will ask you to accept one or more of them for the positions you have open. If none are suitable for you, we will learn from your observations and continue the search to present you with additional options, until we have found the right caregivers.
- The Engagement Begins: Once you have accepted the caregiver(s), we will finalize all of the vetting and make sure that you are covered with the recommended insurance. We will help you to execute employment agreements and set up payroll through a third-party service that ensures that all taxes are handled properly and the caregivers are getting paid without any extra effort on your part. We will set up the care plan, schedules, and reporting. We will give you your own copy of our handbook and go over the policies and procedures that are best to adhere to. We will give you all of the tools to effectively manage the relationship, or, if you are like many of our clients who prefer to have us manage the caregivers for them, we will execute those agreements and begin the management on your behalf.
- Care Begins and is Monitored: Once the care plan begins, we stay in close contact for the first several weeks to ensure that the relationship is off to a great start. If for any reason, you or the caregiver(s) are not satisfied, we will step in and fix the issues or replace the caregiver for you, free of charge, any time in the first 90 days. This is rarely a necessity though, as most relationships get off to a great start and the few that don’t are easily mended with a little bit of effort.
- Management of Caregivers Over Time: For those that have chosen to have us take care of the on-going management, we will have a long and on-going relationship. It will include routine calls and check-ins with both you and the caregiver(s). It will include reports and periodic advice on how to make sure your senior loved one is well.
Of course, this whole process begins with you. Call us today at 631-849-8101, or click here and fill out the Request for Care form. Even if you are still uncertain, make the inquiry and let us know how we can help. There is no charge or obligation for having us conduct a consultation and we are happy to explain our services and answer all questions that you may have.
What Qualifications Does Hallmark Look for in Caregivers?
We at Hallmark only refer caregivers who we would feel comfortable placing with our own Moms. People who truly have a passion for providing superior care, not just for showing up to collect a paycheck. That’s our standard.
We only place totally committed, highly qualified and carefully selected caregivers who are generally board certified or credentialed (e.g., RN, CNA, PCA, LVN, LPN, CCA) and can provide assistance with such activities as errands, transportation to doctors, medication reminders, housekeeping, laundry, grooming, dressing, bathing, and more. We have rigorous screening practices that all applicants go through, focusing on experience, attitude and aptitude. Most importantly, each and every caregiver must be professional, dependable, warm and caring. Many have extensive experience caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, as well as every other disease common to aging.
Qualifications of caregivers placed by Hallmark Homecare:
- Two years (or more) of hands-on experience
- Professional certification (RN, CNA, PCA, LVN, LPN, CCA or equivalent)
- Legal ability to work (Proof of legal residency, green card, social security card, picture ID, etc.)
- Criminal background check with a seven year look-back
- Verification of professional references
- No state board or other disciplinary actions
- Clean driving record
- Current health certificates as applicable (e.g. TB clearance, Hepatitis B screening, etc.)
If you are a caregiver who meets these standards and would like to earn more by working directly for one of our clients, contact us by submitting an application today!
If you are someone who needs to hire caregivers, and would like to get higher quality while saving money, click here and fill out a Request for Care form.
What Does Hallmark Do to Help Ensure Safety?
Your safety is paramount. So we do everything possible to vet the caregivers we place. In fact, we do everything that reputable agencies and, and in some cases, a lot more. Here is just some of what we do:
- Legal Work Status: We require proof of a legal right to work (US Citizen, Green Card, etc.)
- Background checks: We do a thorough criminal background check.
- Reference Checks: We call professional and personal references
- Credential Checks: We verify that all credentials and training certificates are real, valid, or up-to-date
- Drug Testing: When needed or requested, we can and will do a complete drug screen
- Driving Record: We require the caregivers we place to present us with a recent, clean, driving record
- Health Certificate: We require that caregivers have a recent, up-to-date TB test and all other required tests for communicable, carrier diseases.
- Insurance: We insure the caregivers with liability and occupational accident insurance, and we show you how to make sure they are also covered under your policies.
- Payroll: We help you to set up payroll through a very reputable third-party service. This ensures that caregivers are paid on-time without it being a burden to you, and ensures that you stay legal with all required tax withholdings and payments.
- Management Procedures: We give you a copy of our proprietary Client Handbook and walk you through all of the policies, procedures, forms, and best practices outlined in it, ensuring a very professional relationship with your caregivers.
- Manage for You: If you would prefer, we can manage the caregiver relationship for you, ensuring even more oversight and safety.
Everything we do is designed to give you the best and safest experience possible. Call us today at 631-849-8101 to get started.
What If I Don't Want to Manage the Caregiver(s)?
We give you all the tools to be able to manage caregivers yourself, but we understand if you simply don’t want to do so.
Each of our clients receives our proprietary Client Handbook, which contains best practices, policies, forms, agreements, and much more. We walk you through this handbook and show you how to manage caregivers effectively. In short, we make it easy for you to manage the caregiver(s). But we also understand that you may not want to do so. So we also offer our management services. We can manage the caregivers for you for a small hourly surcharge. Even with the surcharge, you will be paying far less than most agencies charge, but you will have all of the benefits of having us handle everything for you.
Contact us today to begin the process. Along the way, we will discuss the options with you and take over the management of the caregivers if that is what you would like us to do.
How Much Does it Cost to Work with Hallmark Homecare?
We charge in two ways:
- We charge a one-time direct placement fee, or
- If you want us to manage the caregiver(s) for you, we charge an hourly surcharge.
If you choose to pay the direct placement fee, it usually results in a cost savings after just the first couple of months, depending on how many hours of care you are contracting. Caregiver relationships usually last for many months to several years, which means that you will enjoy tremendous savings over the life of the engagement, despite having paid for our services in the beginning.
If you want or need us to handle the management of the caregivers, you will simply pay us a surcharge per hour of care. Even with this surcharge, the total costs are typically 30% less than hiring an agency.
Exact amounts vary depending on the area of the country in which you are located and the type of care needed (for instance, it is usually more if skilled nursing is required as opposed to companion care), so please reach out to us and begin the process. There is no cost to schedule and complete a care consultation. Based on the consultation, we will be able to quote you an exact amount for either the direct placement fee or the hourly surcharge if you want us to manage the caregivers.
Regardless of which option you choose, and what the exact costs are in your area and for your care needs, we can tell you that you that, over the next year, you will save significantly compared to hiring an agency.