6 things you should know before you hire a caregiver
Choosing the right caregiver for an aging parent is not something to be taken lightly. Rushing the decision may backfire, but if you had the time to sit down and consider all the pros and cons, you probably wouldn’t need one in the first place. Here are six crucial factors you need to establish beforehand so that you don’t go about it tabula rasa.
- Home care is (isn’t) the best alternative. You should proceed to hiring a home caregiver only after you have determined that aging in place is the best alternative for your relative. On principle, an aging parent is not going to want leave their house, but there might be slight difference between what they want and what’s best for them. For example, they may require social interaction, or need 24/7 access to skilled nursing care due to a specific medical condition. In such a case, it would be best to move them while they still have the cognitive ability to adapt to a new situation. Conversely, don’t assume that your loved one will be better off in a nursing home, especially if they are retain a modicum of independence.
- The type of assistance needed. Home caregivers can help aging individuals with most daily activities such as bathing, walking, dressing, shopping and cooking, as well as health-related duties like monitoring blood pressure or changing a dressing. Your relative may need assistance with some of these activities and still be proficient in others; conversely, the caregiver may not appreciate it if you expect him or her something that falls outside of their job description. It’s important to be straightforward regarding the expectations that each involved party has concerning this experience.
- The caregiver’s training and credentials. Whether you’re considering an agency or an independent caregiver, make sure to run a background check ranging from verifying that the caregiver is licensed, bonded and insured, to criminal background checks and drug testing of the agency’s employees, if possible. The key is to not leave loose ends or stones unturned. You may think that the individual’s driving record is of little consequence to his caregiving skills but, what if the caregiver has to drive your relative to doctor’s appointments and such and such?
- How much it costs and how it is to be paid. Medicare does not cover personal care, nor do supplemental insurance. And Medicaid programs run at the state level pay for diverse home-based personal care services. Chances are you may have to pay for caregiving services out-of-pocket. Thus, it would not be a bad idea to sit down and devise a budget. And to make sure you don’t go over budget, ask how the agency handles payment. While some agencies charge a single hourly sum including all expenses, others may charge billing, taxes, and worker’s comp separately from services rendered.
- How the agency operates. Is there a minimum of weekly hours you need to book? Does the agency work around the clock or does it punch out at 5 o’clock? Is there a cancellation policy, and if so, how does it work? Is there a backup plan if a caregiver no-shows? How many caregivers will work with your relative? Three may be too many, but one may not be enough.
- The care receiver’s input. We spoke above of the difference between what your loved one wants and what’s best for them. The fact that they need a home caregiver may not be up for debate, but they should have a say in who gets the job. For instance, gender – whether the caregiver is male or female – may have an impact on patient compliance. And it goes both ways, too. Caregiver and care receiver are going to spend a lot of time together, so it is instrumental they at least get along with each other.