Finding and hiring a competent caregiver can be challenging without experience. The first decision is whether to use an agency or service or look on your own. This article presents the pluses and minuses of each option and provides additional tips to make your search easier and more effective.
Using a service or an agency
If you decide to go through an intermediary, check reviews of the company or get referrals from friends. The agency will check each applicant’s references, conduct interviews, handle legal issues, contracts, and other essential paperwork, confirm or provide training, handle taxes and payroll, and find a backup caregiver in case regular staff is not available.
They will also handle the procedure of running a background check on the candidate.
If you choose to hire directly, you’ll get a personal impression of the people during the interview. You’ll also save money on agency fees. As a downside, the above activities will be your responsibility entirely.
What do the best candidates have in common?
The right caregiver will have the proper licensing, credentials, and experience. These elements are of paramount importance, especially if your loved one needs help with medication or daily activities. The required licenses can differ from state to state.
A benefit of direct hiring is that you might be able to judge the candidate’s character. They need to “click” with your loved one. If you are doing the interviews, ask candidates questions to determine if they share any interests with the person needing assistance.
Consider whether you’ll need a native speaker or could also work with a foreigner as long as they are fluent in the care recipient’s native language.
Ask for and call references they provide. Listen for hesitation in recommending or any complaints. Confirm the person’s employment term, especially if you’re looking for a long-term caregiver.
What to include in the contract
Your contract with the person should include the work schedule, expected job duties, meal access, and home privileges. It should list vacation time guidelines, the frequency of days off, salary or wage, potential raises, transport, and confidentiality expectations.
Ask them how long they have worked as a caregiver and for some information about their experience as one. Bring up subjects like specialized training, whether they can handle the specific duties and any special care, and what activities could be unsuitable for the person they will be caring for. If the client is prone to getting irritable and aggressive, make sure you mention that.
Provide job details such as visitor policy, payment schedules, and petty cash regulations. If you’re hiring a live-in caregiver, will they be allowed to have visitors? Give information about people the caregiver will meet, like friends or relatives of your loved one. The candidate should know them, so they aren’t caught off guard when these people drop by.
Reach an agreement on whether you’ll be paying weekly, twice a month, or monthly.
Household expenses can be incurred now and then, and you might need to set some money aside. Alternatively, you can reimburse the caregiver in exchange for receipts.
Making the hire
When you choose your final candidate, give them all the details of the client, special care needs, and emergency protocols. They should include the following:
- Ways to address any behavioral problems
- Preferences or likes and dislikes
- Signs of a medical emergency
- Diet and eating restrictions
- Mobility problems
- Medical condition and illness
- Medication list and intake schedule
- Exercises and schedule of therapies
- Home details
- Keys to accessible areas of your home
- The caregiver’s own room or space
- Emergency exits
- Security precautions
- Kitchen access
- Medical supplies
- Room with washing and cleaning supplies
- Room or cabinet for extra clothes or linen
- Emergency kits: fuse box, flashlights, light bulbs, etc.
Provide the numbers of people to be contacted in case of emergencies. They can be adult children or guardians of the care recipient. They also need a list of the names and numbers of hospitals and doctors, and people to call in a plumbing or other household emergency.
Paying for an elderly caregiver
Services such as traditional insurance, long-term care insurance, self-payment, and federal and state programs like Medicaid and Medicare can help you offset the costs of an elderly caregiver.
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