Should you decide a loved one needs assistance in their home, you have three different options.
- You could choose to take on the role of caregiver yourself
- You could hire an agency to provide a caregiver
- Or, perhaps on the recommendation of family or friends, you could hire a home care worker that is unaffiliated with any particular agency
If you choose the first option, you already know the personalities involved and may have a fair idea of what you’re taking on. However, if you’re choosing either the second or third options, you’ll want to conduct an interview with the person who will actually be providing care to ensure as good a fit as possible.
We know that caregivers may come and go with time. However, we also know that the right one could last for as many years as you need them. Along the way, they may share meals and go on outings with you and your loved one. In time, they could become a part of your family.
If You’re Interviewing a Caregiver From an Agency
If you’ve already spoken with a home care agency and they are recommending a particular caregiver, you should already know:
- Whether they work directly for the company or are an independent contractor
- If they’re insured and bonded
- What training they’ve had
- Whether they’ve had recent immunizations for flu, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases
- The hours and days they’ll be available
However, that doesn’t mean you won’t want to meet with them in advance. When you do, you’ll want to ask more specific questions related to your own unique circumstances, including:
- How did you become interested in being a caregiver?
- How long have you been a caregiver?
- What specific training do you have that would help you with my parent’s condition? If say, you’re expecting them to work with a parent who has dementia, you’ll want to explore their experience with this in greater detail.
- Do you have any particular questions or concerns about our situation?
- Should the need arise, would you be available for greater hours than what has already been discussed with your agency?
- Do you have any concerns about yourself or your family that might come up and interfere with your work?
If You’re Interviewing a Caregiver On Your Own
Hiring an independent caregiver on your own may be a less expensive option than hiring through an agency as independent caregivers typically charge 20-30% less than home care agencies. This is because an agency has to pay local and state taxes, federal unemployment taxes, liability or worker’s comp insurance, and health insurance.
If a caregiver is working independently, you may be charged less, but then your caregiver is less likely to have health insurance (which could impact your health), liability insurance (in the event they damage something in your home) and/or bonding (see below). Also, remember that you are required by law to pay at least minimum wage and you are required to pay overtime.
You may have received a sterling recommendation for a caregiver from a friend or family member. On the other hand, you may be meeting with a complete stranger whose name you got off the church bulletin board or is responding to your notice on that same bulletin board. Either way, you assume the time and risk that the agency would absorb in hiring and then assigning a caregiver.
Just as you would in your initial contact with an agency, you will first need to outline your situation before you begin to ask questions. Although they will be similar to those you would ask a caregiver from an agency, you’ll want to dig a little deeper as you’re going to be the one doing the initial vetting. As a result, you’ll want to include questions such as:
- How long have you been a caregiver?
- Have you received any particular training in caregiving?
- Do you hold any professional licenses or certifications?
- What makes you particularly qualified to work with my parent?
- How much do you charge?
- Do you have a minimum amount of hours you would want to work in a day?
- How many hours are you looking to work in a week?
- What days and times are you available?
- How many hours of work are you looking for?
- Do you work weekends and holidays?
- Would you be available on short notice?
- Do you have your own transportation?
- If not, do you have a driver’s license? If so, you may want to make a copy of it to verify their information for a possible background check.
- If so, do you have any recent citations or violations?
- Would you be comfortable driving my parent in either your car or their car?
- Will you be bringing your own meals or do you expect us to provide those?
- Are you bonded? Bonding serves as a form of insurance in the event you report a theft.
- Have you had your most recent flu vaccine and been tested for tuberculosis? If so, ask to see proof. If not, ask why.
- Can you provide at least two references from former employers?
- Do you have any particular concerns about yourself or your family that might come up and interfere with your work? They could have a child in a school that requires them to be home by a certain time or they may be caring for their own parent at home.
- Are you a legal resident of the United States?
- I plan on doing a background check on anyone I would hire. Is there anything you would want me to know first?
Finally, once you do find a caregiver you like, you should then:
- Run background and reference checks.
- Monitor their work.
- Stop by at unexpected times.
Whether you hire a home care worker from an agency or independently, you’ll want to ensure you ask the right questions to make the best selection. That helps make your journey down the gray mile easier today and down the path tomorrow.