A Handy Reference

A guide to finding reputable vendors

By Meghann Finn Sepulveda

Whether you need a handyman, housekeeper, financial advisor or lawyer, it’s important to do research and seek recommendations before hiring a service professional. Although you can’t guarantee the individual will provide quality or reliable service, there are ways to increase your safety and security when working with service professionals.

Talk to family members, friends

Experts say one of the best ways to find reputable sources is by talking to those closest to you.

“Ask your family members, friends and even neighbors for recommendations,” says Linda Esparza, RN, wellness coordinator for Sun Health at Home. “These are the people who can speak from experience.”

Beware of any stranger who shows up at your home unannounced and says he or she is on a job in the area already and can give you a good price. This is a common scam according to AARP.

Check references

Before hiring someone, consider calling the Better Business Bureau to see if a contractor is licensed, bonded and insured, is in good standing and if any complaints have been filed. It’s also beneficial to read online reviews, which can provide a great deal of insight on personal experiences from past clients that may help guide your decision.

Sun Health at Home, a continuing care at home program, offers members complimentary access to a vetted vendor list, which provides peace of mind to those who need to hire outside vendors for household maintenance or personal support.

“We compiled a comprehensive list of reputable vendors who have a longstanding relationship with Sun Health,” says Barbara Mason, executive director for Sun Health at Home. “We have done our due diligence in checking the credentials and references of all our vendors and feel confident in their business practices.”

This resource has been especially helpful for Jackie Sorad, a Sun Health at Home member who recently hired a medical equipment company to deliver a walker and install grab bars in her shower, along with a private-duty caregiver to assist her after she fell and fractured her back.

“It makes me feel better that I don’t have to look in the phone book anymore when I need to hire help,” she says. “It’s one of the reasons why I joined Sun Health at Home.”

Members of Sun Health at Home can call the member line to obtain references from the vetted vendor list, which consists of dozens of service professionals such as housekeepers, tax accountants, fiduciaries, lawyers, financial advisors and even veterinarians.

“The list is constantly growing,” Linda says. “We also make updates and changes and re-evaluate each professional on a regular basis.”

Some residential neighborhoods also have preferred vendor lists, which are available to those who live in the community. Online referral sources such as Angie’s List can also be a helpful tool to identify trustworthy service professionals.

Shop around

AARP recommends that individuals in need of contracting services should gather at least three estimates that detail the materials to be used, the labor charges, the start and end dates and the total cost.

It’s also a good idea to get all estimates in writing, understand what you are signing and keep a copy of the contract, according to AARP.

Find the right fit

While other factors such as cost, scheduling and individual needs come into play, choosing a service professional ultimately boils down to personal preference.

“It’s important to feel comfortable with a service professional, especially if he or she will be spending time in your home,” Linda explains. “Seniors need to be extra careful and take necessary precautions.”

Jackie says she appreciates the assistance she has received from the Sun Health at Home program.

“I’ve moved so many times throughout my life,” she says. “I’m so happy to finally stay put.”

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