How to Find an At-Home Caregiver for Yourself or Your Elderly Loved Ones

Finding the right at-home caregiver for your loved one is vital to his or her health and happiness. Selecting the right person for the job is a delicate process. Click through for five tips to help you find the best caregiver for yourself or your loved one.

Finding an at-home caregiver is a trickier task than many people realize. There are all types of caregivers with different credentials and levels of experience. How do you know whether you're selecting someone who can handle your loved one's unique needs? If you're searching for a caregiver, you need these five tips that will help you hire the right person for the job.

What type of care do you require?

Determine the level of care that your loved one needs before deciding on the type of caregiver to hire. A personal care assistant (PCA), for instance, provides the lowest level of care and is the least expensive. He or she will help with such things as bathing, dressing, feeding and housekeeping but cannot administer IVs, shots or other medications. Beyond PCAs, there are home health aides, licensed nursing assistants, skilled nursing providers and registered nurses (RNs). An RN is able to provide the most amount of care, such as providing medication, administering IVs, handling feeding tubes, changing catheters and more. Assess the amount of care that your loved one requires before deciding on the type of home caregiver.

Should you work with an agency?

You can hire a home caregiver on your own, privately, or by using an agency. If you hire someone on your own, know that you will be held liable for any injuries the caregiver sustains on the job, and you could be left without help if your caregiver falls ill or goes on vacation and is unavailable.

If you go through an agency, it will have a database of available caregivers who are verifiably trained and licensed. The agency carries the responsibility for any on-the-job injuries, processing forms (e.g., the W-4 and W-2), offering liability insurance and paying FICA taxes. It will also find you an interim caregiver if the one you hire is unavailable due to an emergency or planned time off. However, caregivers through agencies tend to be more expensive, and you don't have as much control over the person who gets hired.

Ask the right questions

If you are hiring a home caregiver privately, there are some essential questions you must ask. These questions are less important if you're going through an agency because those candidates are prescreened. Here are a few of them:

  • How many years of experience do you have?
  • What are your credentials? Do you have any certifications?
  • Do you have references? (Ask for a minimum of three references from past employers.)
  • Are you legally eligible to work in this country? (Ask for a passport, visa, etc.)

Select the best person for the job

To ensure that you hire the right person to assist your loved one, write a job description that clearly spells out all the things that you expect from a caregiver. Be specific about your loved one's unique situation — does he or she need help getting dressed, bathing, eating or going to the bathroom? Make sure you write a job description that includes the entire scope of the care needed. For example, if you expect the caregiver to help with household chores, cooking or pet care, all of that should find its way into the job description as well. This is more important if you're hiring a caregiver privately, but if you work with an agency, you should still be as transparent as possible about what is expected.

Legal requirements for the employer

If you choose to hire a caregiver privately, remember that you are responsible for taxes, payroll, insurance and employee disputes. If this is too much for you to handle, it's advisable to work with an agency.

For more assistance in your search for the right caregiver, give us a call and we'll put you in touch with great resources to help you on your way.


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