Finding a Needle in a Haystack: 7 Steps for Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
If you need to employ outside help in your home, there are many things to consider…
90% of older adults prefer to age in place, but it is very challenging for your loved one to continue living at home when they begin to need more care and assistance than you are capable of providing on your own.
In this situation, hiring an in-home, non-medical caregiver might be the key to independence for your loved one. Such caregivers can provide vital assistance with activities of daily living, such as meal preparation, dressing, grooming, medication monitoring, transportation, and even light housekeeping.
While this sounds like it could be an ideal situation for your loved one, the quality of the care your loved one receives depends on the quality of the caregiver hired. And finding the best caregivers can be as challenging as finding a needle in a haystack.
Nevertheless, the task of hiring a home caregiver doesn’t need to be so daunting. Read on for a list of 7 things to consider as you begin the task of hiring a caregiver that will work well with your family’s unique situation and help your loved one to thrive as they continue to age in place.
- Determine the level of care needed.
The first step in finding a caregiver is to determine what services or levels of care are needed. To start, make a list of the daily activities with which your loved one may need assistance. These generally fall into categories of personal care (eating, dressing, bathing), basic health care (driving to doctor’s office, monitoring medications), household care (cooking, cleaning, laundry), and emotional care.
The AARP provides many resources that can help you in planning for care, such as this Caregiving Assistance Checklist, which helps you to consider the mobility, mental health, finances, driving skills, lifestyle, and medication needs of your loved one as you begin to seek a caregiving provider.
- Write a clear job description.
After you determine the level of care needed, write a clear job description for potential caregivers. This job description will help you find candidates who are willing and able to do what’s needed to best meet the needs of your loved one.
As you’re writing the job description, it may help you to walk through a full week of care, hour by hour. This will enable you to set expectations early about how many hours of care are needed, how much flexibility is needed, and how much you should pay the caregiver.
- Choose to work with an agency or an independent caregiver.
For in-home care, you have the choice between hiring a caregiver using an agency or hiring an independent caregiver on your own. The cost of hiring an agency caregiver typically ranges from $18-$35 an hour. Hiring an independent caregiver can save you money because you do not have to pay agency fees, but you do take on additional risks and responsibilities that accompany these savings. For more information on the pros and cons of working with an agency or an independent caregiver, read this article by the AARP.
- Collect background documentation.
When hiring a caregiver, you will be inviting a person you do not know into your home, and you will need to make sure they are trustworthy. One great way to do this is to collect documentation and run a background check on the candidate, just like you would if you were hiring an employee.
Potential caregivers should provide a copy of their driver’s license, insurance card, social security card, and tax form I-9 to verify their employment eligibility in the United States. Caregivers should also provide you with a list of references for you to contact. If you are working with an agency, they will do this screening on your behalf.
- Interview the caregiver.
If the potential caregiver seems trustworthy after the background check is completed, you should interview them to make sure they are a good fit for you and your loved one.
Ask them plenty of questions about their past caregiving experience, their training and certification, and how they would respond to common scenarios that occur when caring for your loved one. These questions will allow you to evaluate their personal and professional fit before you hire them.
It is also important to see how they interact with your loved one. At the interviewing stage, it is appropriate to provide the potential caregiver with the opportunity to meet and interact with your loved one. You can also hire the caregiver on a trial basis, before entering into a long-term contract with them, at this point to ensure that they are capable of meeting your expectations of care.
If you are working with an agency, this interview also gives an agency representative the opportunity to evaluate the level of care needed by your loved one, allowing them to immediately know whether or not they are able to provide the help you need.
- Sign an employment contract.
Finally, if the potential caregiver seems to be a good fit for the specific needs of your loved one, sign an employment contract that clearly lays out all details and expectations for the caregiving job.
A contract can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, but it must include a detailed job description, a schedule, pay rate and periods, and anything else you’ve agreed upon during the interview process.
- Communicate with your caregiver.
Once hired, it is important to schedule times to meet regularly with the caregiver to discuss concerns, problems, and changes. Build trust with your caregiver through open and honest communication. Don’t forget to thank the caregiver for their good work!
If you’re still looking for a caregiver…
McGregor Hospice provides a “special kind of caring” for loved ones and their families who are facing a life-limiting illness. No matter where your loved once calls home, McGregor Hospice provides caregiving services that promote the highest quality of life by ensuring comfort, dignity, and tranquility.
If your loved one does not qualify for end-of-life care, McGregor PACE can be the difference that allows them to keep their independence. McGregor PACE allows participants to continue living at home while being welcomed into our inclusive community to receive the medical, rehabilitative, social, and personal care they need in our adult day health centers.