How do I hire a long-term caregiver for my elderly parent? Frequently asked questions about hiring elder carers.
With declining health and difficulty in performing activities of daily living (ADLs), elder care may become a necessity for your aging parents. One popular type of senior care is in-home care. This involves hiring a long-term in-home caregiver for your elderly loved ones, a process that may be unfamiliar to you.
In-home carers can be helpful in providing round-the-clock care, and can also help seniors maintain some independence.
How to hire a long-term in-home caregiver for your aging parents.
When looking to hire a long-term caregiver for your senior loved one, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Your loved one’s specific situation and needs
- Types of caregiver services
- Budget considerations
Assessing the required level of care needed for your elderly parent
This step is crucial, as you cannot hire a suitable long-term caregiver if you don’t know what level of care is required. You may want to talk to your family doctor, as well as your parent or loved one to determine what is needed. It’s best to make a list to work with. The things on your list may include:
- Activities of daily living (ADLs)
- Personal care
- Health care
- Household chores
- Medical care
- Supervision and what level of supervision
Types of in-home carer services available
There are essentially two types of in-home care services that you can choose for your elderly loved-one and the skill-level of your caregiver depends on how healthy and agile your loved-one is.
Home care services
In-home care, sometimes simply referred to as” home care” services help the elderly with ADLs. The caregiver assists with activities like dressing, bathing, meal preparation, household chores, and housekeeping.
They also provide a sense of companionship for seniors.
The caregivers aim to provide just the essential amount of assistance to the elderly without compromising their independence, giving medications or providing medical services of any kind.
Home health care services
The focus of home health is on the medical services that the seniors require. This type is suitable for the elderly who require regular help with their healthcare needs.
If your elderly parent needs physical therapy, nursing, medication management, and other such services, home health care is the way to go.
Home caregiver hiring options.
Now that you know which type of care your loved one needs, it is time to discuss the options.
Hire an independent caregiver yourself
You can choose to find the in-home caregiver directly. You can do so through personal recommendations or through some online matching services. In any case, you should consider the following pros and cons.
- A healthy personal relationship may develop between the caregiver and your loved one as the same caregiver will always be on duty
- Hiring an independent caregiver might be less expensive compared to going through an agency
- You and your parent(s) can choose someone that feels like a good fit
- The working relationship may feel more personal
- You may be able to tailor your caregiver’s duties more specifically to your needs
- A DYI approach will require more effort in screening, hiring, firing, taxes, payroll, and disciplinary actions
- There might not be any backup in case the caregiver calls in sick or cannot come for some other reason
- You might have to put time into training and guiding the caregiver at the beginning
- You may be liable for any injury on the job
Hire a caregiver through an agency
There are numerous benefits to hiring your caregiver through an agency.
- Agencies take care of the legal paperwork related to screening, hiring, firing, and taxes
- If a caregiver is absent, an agency usually will provide a substitute
- An agency can offer different caregivers with unique skill sets to provide versatile caring options
- Agencies will be liable for any injury on-site
- Agencies will handle scheduling and payroll
While the benefits of a caregiver agency are great, there can be some negative points to consider too.
- Hiring an agency can be expensive
- You might have little or no choice in which caregiver you get
- A personal bond might not develop because of revolving caregivers
The process of hiring a long-term caregiver on your own
Whether you decide to hire an individual caregiver or an agency, it is important to carve out a plan for hiring. Following are some practical steps you can take:
Write out a job description
Use the information collected in the first step and carve out a job description. For example, if your aging parent struggles with bathing, you should mention it in the job description.
You can also mention the qualification and level of the required caregiver. A job description is fairly subjective and you should write a personalized one according to your needs.
Do the legal paperwork
Create a contract or have a lawyer draw one up for you and gather the necessary paperwork for hiring a caregiver. Again, use the information compiled in the first two steps. A job contract may include:
- Compensation details
- Work schedule
- Caregiver’s social security number and a W-9 for tax purposes
- A summary of the job description
- Rules and regulations. For example, no smoking allowed on the premises or mandatory drug testing
- Procedure and conditions for termination
Beginning your search
Once you’ve settled all the logistics of what kind of carer you need and outlined the work agreement, you’ll need to start looking for someone. Here are a few ideas on where to start:
- Personal references like friends, family, and neighbors
- Local churches and community centers
- Local university job boards
- Websites that match you with a suitable caregiver- a Google search will get you many, but care.com is a great place to start
- Social media groups and your own networks
- Craig’s List
Screening and Interviewing applicants
Now that you have a few candidates for the job, it is time to screen and interview them. The ideal thing to do is to prepare questions for the interview in advance. Asking the same questions from all the applicants will help you compare them.
Before inviting someone to come to your home for an in-person interview, you may want to screen your applicants first. There are a few ways to do this:
- In your application form, ask for a CV, a photo, a photo ID, their social media profiles, and both personal and professional references
- Schedule a Zoom or Skype “face to face” pre-interview
- Check their references and check out their social media accounts and interactions
During the interview, you may want the applicant to perform a demo. In this way, you can observe their skill and temperament.
Have a checklist ready:
- Did they show up on time?
- Have they dressed appropriately for the interview?
- Are they clean and tidy in their appearance?
- Are they respectful?
- What does your gut say?
- What does your parent or loved one feel and think about them?
A Background check is essential
After the interview, you may have found someone you feel is just right. The next step before offering them the job is to perform a criminal background check. This will ensure the safety and security of your loved one.
Safety for your senior
Once you have hired a caregiver, it’s best to monitor them randomly to make sure everything is going as planned. This step is vital for numerous reasons:
- The safety and well-being of your loved one
- Job expectations and fulfillment
- Time management
- Protecting your household or loved one against theft
There a number of ways to monitor your caregiver’s presence in the home and performance. You can place security cameras (sometimes referred to as “nanny cams”) around the home, you can pop in unexpectedly from time to time, you can make sure your loved one has a smart device and can contact you quickly and easily, and you can recruit other family members to check in now and then to make sure all is fine and well.
Hiring a home caregiver can go a long way toward your senior’s comfort and sense of independence. Home care is often far preferable to placing them in an assisted living or nursing care facility.
Aging and dependence can cause depression and feelings of loss; helping your loved one age in place or age in your home can be one of the most loving things you can do for them.
Likewise, hiring a caregiver may be essential to your own mental health, peace of mind, and well-being. With these tips, you’ll be able to go about hiring a caregiver in a safe and manageable way.