Making the decision to hire an in-home caregiver for your elderly loved one may fill you with trepidation. You might wish you could stay home with the elderly one yourself, but circumstances just don’t allow it. It’s easy to feel as if only you can give your loved one the kind of care they need, and you may struggle with stress and anxiety when forced to rely on someone else. Can a paid caregiver really give an elderly person the time and commitment they deserve? Knowing for certain your elderly loved one is being properly cared for is the best way to combat those feelings of doubt.
According to a survey of infirmed and elderly individuals on Clear Care, 90 percent preferred home care over comparable institutional care. Staying at home gives the elderly a sense of control and independence that simply cannot be matched. If your elderly loved one needs aid with day-to-day tasks, hiring an in-home caregiver is definitely better than placing him in a nursing home or assisted living facility. But how can you be sure your loved one is being taken care of properly?
Hiring the Right Caregiver
As you might imagine, your best first step is hiring the right caregiver. Whether you decide to hire a private caregiver or go through an agency, several criteria will help you make the best decision.
- Ask for a criminal background check. Don’t rely on the caregiver’s (or agency’s) word for it; ask to see documentation. The more information and details you can get about the provider’s past will help you be comfortable with their expertise.
- Interview several possible caregivers. Even when you are meeting with an agency representative, it’s your right to ask to meet with the specific caregivers who will be in charge of your loved one’s care. Trust your instincts; if you get a vibe or feel that you don’t care for, it’s okay to ask for someone else.
- Check references. It’s always wise to speak with at least two or three past clients of the care provider. Don’t hesitate to ask any and all questions that you want. Getting positive feedback from previous clients will go a long way in easing your anxiety.
- When going through an agency, ask how long they have been in business. New companies are not as reliable as well-established agencies because they experience a high turnover rate. Newer agencies may also attract caregivers who have been turned down at older, more reputable agencies.
- If your loved one needs extensive medical care, consider hiring a Licensed Vocational Nurse or RN. Licensed nurses assure proper protocol is followed, easily recognize symptoms of illness, carefully observe special diets, and have high standards of hygiene. If hiring an RN isn’t possible, look for an agency that has one on staff. She has likely helped train the caregivers in the agency.
- Ask about the company’s replacement or guarantee policy. A respectable agency will give you as many replacements as needed without limitation. You can request a probationary period for at least three months to make sure the caregiver is suitable, just be sure to include these details in the contract.
Stay Involved and Be Prepared
The best way to ensure reliability is by using a system like ClearCare which provides real-time visibility to the point-of-care of your loved one. Leaving your elderly parent with a relative stranger can fill you with nerves, but if you are reassured by a web-based system that notifies you when a caregiver arrives at the home and that the caregiver is completing specific tasks properly, it makes all the difference. Such technology proves not only that the caregiver stays at your loved one’s home, but that she is administering medications on time and fulfilling other responsibilities as necessary. Staying actively involved in this way will give you peace of mind and confidence in the caregiver.
Before a health crisis or emergency, complete a “caregiver emergency information” kit. The kit should contain all relevant medical, financial, and legal information – including doctors, medications, durable power of attorneys, insurance information, Social Security numbers, and health care proxies. You should also ask your loved one to complete a HIPAA compliant, privacy release form to keep on file with his caregiver and physician. This will make dealing with an unexpected emergency easier.
Good communication between you and the caregiver is essential – right from the very beginning. As long as you have stated clear responsibilities and detailed expectations, the care provider will know exactly what her job entails. In general, caregivers enjoy their profession and take special care to do things right. With a clearly defined care plan, open communication, and active involvement, you can rest assured your loved one is being properly cared for.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.