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Although it may seem logical to hire a private caregiver due to the initial cost savings, this decision may lead to other challenges and problems down the road. The first challenge with hiring a private caregiver is the driven by the complex IRS and Labor Law requirements rules governing “household employees”. When a family hires a private caregiver, that family becomes the “employer” by law and must assume all of the obligations that a normal employer assumes.
The second challenge arises when the private caregiver becomes sick, leaves town, or is unable to work. This creates a significant amount of stress for the family, which then has to figure out how to ensure the continuity of care for their loved one.
Lastly, with the implementation of the Home Care Consumer Protection Act on January 1, 2016, the risk of hiring a private caregiver increased due to the licensing and registration requirements for caregivers. All caregivers working for a professional agency must pass a thorough background check in order to qualify to work with older adults. Private caregivers, however, do not need to undergo any background check or other screening process.
The easiest way to start your search for a qualified in-home care agency is by going online and searching for home cares agencies in your area. We recommend that you visit and their websites and review any online reviews that may be available. Other good sources of information include your local senior center, hospital, and local senior non-profit agencies.
Settle on a short list of agencies that appealed to you when doing your research before setting a date for an assessment. This will eliminate wasted time in talking to providers that are unqualified or not a good match for your needs. A few questions we suggest you ask include the following:
- Does your agency have a Home Care Organization license?
- How long have you been in business?
- How do you screen your caregivers & what training or experience do they have?
- What else does your agency do to support your clients and their families?
The next step is scheduling the in home assessment with the agency. Take your time to get to know how the agency handles the process. Remember this is who will be managing the care for you or your loved one. Make sure that you understand and feel comfortable that all of your questions have been answered to your satisfaction. Ask if they have any specialty programs or other differentiators that separates them from the other choices of in home care providers. After you complete your interviews choose the agency that matches your needs best.
If you have chosen to hire a private caregiver, be careful & get the following information ahead of time.
- Criminal history: due to California privacy laws, you cannot perform criminal background checks on private individuals unless you are a company looking to hire them. However, the caregiver can request to have their own background check done and provide a copy to you.
- DMV record: if the home care aide will need to drive your loved one for either for errands or doctor appointments, the home care aide should provide you with a printout of his/her driving record. They can request copy from the DMV.
- Three Professional references: If the caregiver does not have a minimum of three professional references, ask for at least that many personal references from non-family members.
- If you have chosen to hire an agency, ask for testimonials & ask if they are associated with Home Care Pulse which conducts independent third party interviews with that agency’s clients and caregivers. You should also check online to see if they have any Google or Yelp reviews.
Realistically, most people are resistant to the concept of a stranger coming into their home. Often times, this help is viewed as taking away the person’s independence. More times than not, individuals who need care will choose to avoid making a decision about getting care for as long as they can. As a result, we recommend that you start having discussions with your loved ones as early as possible or at minimum by the time you start making inquiries.
- Discuss with them your concern & the peace of mind having help can provide not solely for themselves but also for you & the family.
- Go over the process & explain the steps in a way that they can easily digest.
- Review the list of questions you have for agencies or providers & ask for their input.
- Let them review any materials you have received.
- Let them know that a free no obligation in-home assessment is available and that they have the right to end services or choose another provider at any time.
These conversations can be difficult and overwhelming to some, so try to reassure them that you only have their best interest in mind and that they ultimately have the authority to make their own decisions. The exception to this is if your loved one has cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s & Dementia and you are the Power of Attorney making those decisions on their behalf.
The most important aspect is to ensure that your loved one is receiving the appropriate level of care for their needs to ensure their safety. It is our recommendation and hope that families plan early and start services with a few hours to ease into the process, and over time, increase the frequency and length of their shifts as their level of care needed increases. This is also helpful method to start for those who are initially resistant to care.
After services have started, ask your loved one questions to ensure their care needs are being met. Equally as important is asking if the caregiver is a good fit. If they are not a good fit, then ask the agency you are working with for a replacement. Your loved one should enjoy spending time with their caregiver & should always feel secure. Continue to monitor the service and feel free to contact the agency with any questions or concerns.