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7 Tips for Choosing an In-Home Caregiver

An in-home caregiver can be a way to find a balance between caring for your loved one and supporting their individual level of independence. For some, you may only need short-term care for your loved one on an intermittent basis while others may prefer a routine schedule that provides relief and peace of mind that your family member or friend is being looked after.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when choosing your in-home caregiver:

1) Determine the level of care that matches your needs. There are caregivers available at almost every level for which you might need them. There are registered nurses who are well-equipped to administer difficult medicine regimens and treatments, and there are those who are present for support, companionship, and mobility assistance. List the types of care you need and expect from your in-home caregiver before you begin your search.

2) Use the right resources. While you might be able to find a perfectly capable and caring in-home care provider through other channels, agencies specializing in in-home care may do a lot of the background work on candidates for you. Look for agency accreditation and online reviews. Working with an agency will also provide you with a way to address issues with your caregiver in a well-structured and legally appropriate manner.

3) Ask thorough questions. At every step, the family member who is serving as the advocate on behalf of a loved one is responsible for thoroughly evaluating the qualifications of placement agencies and individuals. Ask the following questions before you initiate an application process or discuss fees:

For Agencies:

  • How are candidates screened?
  • Is there an emergency number or a plan if we can’t reach our caregiver?
  • Are caregivers limited in the number of hours they can work?
  • Are there in-home programs that my loved one can be involved in? (i.e. physical therapy or language therapy)

For Caregivers:

  • What is your protocol for emergency situations?
  • How long have you been providing in-home care services?
  • Are you bonded and insured?
  • Do you have any medical training?

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive so you’ll want to ensure you ask every question that you can think of to make an informed decision about the care provider.

4) Check references. Contact references provided by both individual caregivers and agencies. Ask the reference if he or she recommends this person or agency and if he or she has any knowledge of complaints or dissatisfaction with the level of service.

5) Make your expectations clear. All parties will benefit from a clear initial description of requirements and expectations while the caregiver is in the home. Make sure you list everything, from providing conversation and driving services to laundry and cooking. Unclear expectations can leave family members and caregivers uncomfortable with the circumstances. Address questions such as, “Will the caregiver be allowed to stay for meals or will he or she need to pack meals separately?” Never expect a caregiver to do above and beyond what is listed in the contract, but it is fully acceptable to be gracious and reward exceptional work.

6) Keep communications with your loved one open, except in special circumstances such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Make sure that your loved one understands the terms of the caregiver’s role in his or her life. Your family members should all have a clear understanding of what each can and cannot ask of an in-home caregiver.

7) Determine a good fit. Perhaps one of the most important tips to remember is for you to spend time having a conversation with the caregiver before hiring him or her. Discuss topics relating to the work, as well as lifestyles and other related subjects. If an in-home caregiver is going to be spending long hours with your family, you’ll want to make sure that personalities mesh well.

An in-home caregiver can be a great asset to families who need respite from caring for loved ones. He or she can also be an additional source of stress. To ensure that your in-home caregiver is what you need him or her to be, use these tips to find the best match available for your family and circumstances.