How to Hire a Reliable In-Home Caregiver

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In the United States, 44 million people provide in-home care to an elderly person. Many family members of seniors hire an in-home caregiver to preserve the elderly person’s quality of life and independence. Caregivers are also hired for disabled spouses, adult children who’ve been injured in war or an accident, and children with special needs.

Deciding on an in-home caregiver for your loved one is an important decision and should be not taken lightly. It is crucial you hire someone who is reliable, competent, and caring. Give careful consideration to hiring an agency that will provide real-time visibility for the safety of the person being cared for and your own peace of mind.

Where to Begin the Search for an In-home Caregiver

With your loved one, his physician, and your other family members, make a job description of what you are specifically looking for in a caregiver. Agencies and individual caregivers provide a wide range of assistance including meal preparation, housecleaning, hygiene care, exercise, transportation, activity planning, and socialization. Once you have a list of requirements, it will be easier to decide on a suitable agency.

Choose between an individual caregiver and a professional agency based on the needs of the person to be cared for and your budget. An individual caregiver has the advantage that dollars spent go directly to that caregiver, so you can typically afford someone with better credentials when compared to a similar spend with an agency. However, a private agency offers advantages such as oversight of the caregiver and periodic inspections that ensure the caregiver is there on time and completes the care plan.

Meet with several professional agencies. Take into consideration whether the agency carries liability insurance, if the agency’s caregivers are bonded and whether a criminal background check is conducted. Ask what specific training is required for the agency’s employees and review credentials carefully. Many caregivers are paid fairly low wages and there is high turnover at the agencies so be sure to interview the specific person who will be assigned to care for your loved one. Always check at least two or three references to be safe.

Tips for Hiring Someone to Provide Care in the Home

Once you decide on an agency, you will be provided with a care plan. Review this care plan carefully and make sure it includes a detailed list of daily tasks and responsibilities. Pay particular attention to the most critical tasks and make sure a time is established for their completion in order to ensure consistency and reliability.

It is very important you know the caregiver is actually at your loved one’s home, and that individual tasks are being completed as scheduled. Many agencies use “paper care journals” which are kept in the senior’s home. These journals are often inconsistently completed and not always collected. Paper care journals also create a significant time lapse between the care that is provided and when the agency becomes aware of it. A web-based system like ClearCare gives you real-time visibility and lets you know as soon as each task is completed.

Your agency should have an alert system in place if the caregiver does not clock-in as scheduled, or if a task is not completed as specified. Consider using a point-of-care system so you can receive alerts and keep track of care being provided. Point-of-care works either via telephony (the caregiver reports clock-in/clock-out and the care provided by telephone from the senior’s home) or via a mobile tablet that resides in the senior’s home. These systems are inexpensive, only take fifteen minutes to install, and are easy to use. You can receive important notifications via e-mail and check in on your loved one at any time.

Hiring a caregiver for your loved one may seem daunting, but following these tips will really help. Using a dependable agency that offers real-time visibility is the best way to keep your loved one well cared for and safe. The time you spend searching for a reliable caregiver will be well worth it.

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