Caring for an aging relative is a natural thing to do for some, but an impossible task for others. It doesn’t matter if you can’t become a full-time caregiver because of your family, your career, your own health issues or any other reason. The burden and responsibility of caring for a senior can become so great, that there’s no shame of leaving it to a professional if you’re not feeling up to the task. After all, a certified caregiver will have much more experience and will make sure that our beloved relative will be looked after 24/7.
Once you decide to hire a caregiver, there are several things you should keep in mind before sealing the deal. You want to make sure you’ve made the right choice, so take your time to go through the whole process. You don’t want an incompetent stranger in your home, after all. You want a friend, a guardian and a reliable support whenever needed.
Finding “the one”
First off, you need to decide whether you prefer hiring someone from a caregiving agency, or a private contractor. If possible, engage your elderly relative in the decision making process as much as you can.
References and recommendations should be your first place to go; ask around the family, among your friends, at work, and try to collect as many tips as possible.
The pros of agency services are guaranteed professionality and backup coverage in case your favorite caregiver isn’t available. The cons could be the limited access to all the information around the caregiver, the higher costs, and the long-term risk that a corporation starts valuing profits over service.
Hiring a private caregiver, on the other hand, offers significantly greater control for you regarding the hiring, payment or caregiving itself. It does bring more work to you because finding and choosing the right candidate won’t be easy, and once you have someone, finding a back-up will be your responsibility as well.
Choose wisely, consider your time and financial possibilities, and discuss every step with your senior relative.
The legal matters
The certification (CPR, first-aid, nursing) is the first thing to ask for when choosing a candidate. Different states have different requirements for family caregivers, so make sure you’re up to date with those that apply to your region. In the state of Ohio no training is required, but for instance in Vermont caregivers must pass a state test as well as a background check and drug test.
You can run your own background check on the caregiver via care.com, google them, or look through their social media profiles to get an idea about who they are. It’s a common practice with companies’ HR departments, so why not use this opportunity as well?
Finally, if you’re hiring someone of a foreign origin, you may want to check their immigration status in order to avoid complications on both sides.
Also a legal matter, the contract deserves its own paragraph because the importance of every detail is great. If a contract is articulated clearly and contains everything it should, many unpleasant complications can be avoided beforehand. Here are a few areas on which you should focus:
- Duties and responsibilities: Hours, schedule, duties, privileges, meals, etc.
- Compensation and benefits: Rate, frequency, benefits including days off, vacation, benefits, performance review, etc.
- Transportation: Guidelines for using the family car and public transportation safely.
- Discretion and confidentiality: Your expectations about personal information.
- Notice and severance: What each party will be required to do if the job comes to an end.
Of course, I’m happy to assist with this aspect of things.
The human factor
Once you’ve found the experienced caregiver, meet up with them (ideally also with your senior relative), just to see whether the proverbial spark is there or not. Don’t forget to listen to your gut, not just certificates and reviews. If you or your relative for any reason don’t like the person’s demeanor, don’t sign the contract. There are many fish in the sea, and causing unnecessary distress to your elderly loved one by making them stay with someone who makes them feel uncomfortable is the last thing you want to do.