One of the most critical choices Caregivers make is the hiring of someone to help their loved ones at home. The person or people hired can be responsible for their loved one’s safety, health, and mood, and can be what makes the difference between someone being able to stay in ther own home or move to Senior’s Housing. If you can find the right person, you will have peace of mind. If you hire the wrong person, the older person is at risk for deterioration, neglect, or abuse.
There are two choices for hiring home help–either privately or through an agency. There are several advantages to using a Home Health Agency. They have done the screening for you, they take care of all taxes and benefits, if a staff member is sick, they are more likely to have a replacement, and they have people who supervise the staff.
Hiring privately is often less expensive, and the money that you pay will go directly to the worker you have hired. The savings can be significant if you are hiring for many hours per day or week. You have a direct relationship with the caregiver, so you make direct arrangements as to what you want done, and how you want it done. Our experience has been that private caregivers often have more of a sense of loyalty to the client and family, because of that direct relationship. Also, neither you nor they are governed by the restrictions and policies of the agency.
The safest way to find a private caregiver is through other people who may have been in your situation. Ask them who they used. If they currently have someone, ask if that person is available or has friends who would be. You can call an Adult Day Care in your area, or some of the local care facilities. Sometimes the Alzheimer’s Society can refer you to someone. You can call a local college that trains care aides and ask about graduates looking for work. You can advertise in your local newspaper. People have placed ads on Craigslist. Elderpost (www.elderpost.com ) was specifically set up to help people looking for private caregivers and private caregivers to find each other. With Elderpost, you can buy an Elderpost Review, done by a professional who will interview potential caregivers for you.
- There are some wonderful private caregivers out there, people who become like part of your family. However, there are risks, and you must be very cautious when hiring private caregivers if you find them through a newspaper or internet ad. You can take steps to protect an older person: Ask for references and check them carefully. Find out from the former employer what the person’s responsibilities were, what their interaction was like, where they might need some supervision. Most important, ask if they would hire the person again.
- Ask for someone to have a police record check and have it sent directly to you.
- Ask about training; it is a good idea if someone has taken a course to become a Registered Care Aide. Call the school; do not depend on a certificate. Find out about the course–how many hours and what kind of practicum training was there. See if there is a teacher that will give a reference.
- Find out about other work they are doing, outside of caregiving.
- Pay attention to your gut reactions to the person If there are any kind of warning bells going off inside, move on. Someone who seems like they are trying too hard to be nice, someone who seems cold or controlling, if it seems they are trying to hide something–this person may not be what you are looking for.
- Do NOT hire someone because you are desperate and want to find someone fast.
- Try to assess the fit between the older person and the person you are interviewing. Quiet, talkative, energetic, language are things to consider
- Have at least two interviews with someone.
- Obtain pertinent information, including a Social Insurance Number and legal status in the country.
Before you hire someone, have them sign a written job description which includes tasks, hours, salary, and any benefits. Once they start, drop in at different times unannounced to see how things are going. this includes dropping in at mealtimes if the caregiver is preparing meals. Look at the food and temperature.
Do NOT allow a new caregiver access to banking or financial information, credit cards, or bank cards. If they are helping with banking and bill paying at some point, make sure someone else is closely monitoring bank accounts and credit card statements.
Monitor carefully the older person’s reaction to the situation, and their general health, cleanliness, and mood. If there is a change for the worse, unexpected falls unexplained bruises, fear, change in mood , broken glasses or equipment, or withdrawal this MAY indicate abuse or neglect. Talk to the person when the caregiver is not there to see what they think. Remember, however, that having someone in the home can be an adjustment, and you will have to assess the nature of complaints.
If you are not available to monitor your caregiver, Diamond Geriatrics and other Care Managers are professionals who do just that. Part of our function includes making sure that companions and home support workers are doing the job they are supposed to do, and that your client or loved one is getting the best care possible.
Interviewing for Home Help
Some questions to ask a potential employee:
- Tell me about some of the older people in your personal life.
- What has been your experience in working with older people?
- Tell me what you learned in (ask about the courses s/he has taken)?
- What is the most difficult part of working with older people for you? What do you like the most?
- What do you know about dementia (or other concerns that the older person has)?
- Do you know how to help someone transfer safely?
- Do you have experience in helping someone bathe, use the washroom, or incontinent products?
- What would you do if there was an emergency such as fire? Fall?
- What would you do in the following situation: (Develop a couple scenarios for the person, and ask how he or she would react in such a situation.)
- What kind of meals can you cook?
- Do you have a driver’s license? A car
See Also These Books and Diamond Geriatrics Articles:
- “On Death and Dying;” by Elizabeth Kubler Ross.
- “What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life;” by David Kuhl.
- “The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness;” by Jerome Grooper.