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10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver

The idea of finding a trusted caregiver for your loved ones can be intimidating: How can I trust a hired caregiver to take care of Mom? Who is this stranger who will suddenly be coming into her home and all our lives?

These questions are natural any time a family considers hiring an in-home caregiver. After all, this is a brand-new person who is suddenly responsible for caring for your loved one. It’s natural to be nervous, but there are steps you can take ahead of time during the interview process to give you the peace of mind you need.

Questions to Ask a Home Care Provider

Since chances are good you’ve never hired a home care professional for a loved one before, we want to help you thoroughly evaluate your options and make the best-informed decision possible.

Below is a list of 10 questions we feel anyone should ask a prospective senior home care provider before hiring them. As you read them, it’s also important to ask yourself what answers you’re seeking.

1. How long has the agency been providing home care?

What you’re looking for here is experience, and it’s perhaps the most important question to ask a caregiver. For example, Homewatch CareGivers is backed by more than 30 years of experience in providing elder home care services. Any in-home care company with this sort of history gives you confidence that the employees understand the industry and already have processes and procedures in place to ensure the well-being of your loved one.

2. Is a written, customized care plan developed in consultation with the client and family members, and is the plan updated as changes occur?

Your loved one is a unique individual and their care should be just as individualized. A customized plan caters to their specific needs. You’re not looking for a cookie-cutter care plan, selected for them because they have a certain difficulty or particular chronic condition (like heart disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s). Additionally, a person’s needs don’t stay the same forever. As their condition evolves, changes, or deteriorates, they might need more or different care. That requires a change in the care plan.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s care demonstrate this well. At Homewatch CareGivers, we believe that every dementia care client should get a customized care plan and have caregivers who know their personal life story to make them feel more comfortable. This plan adjusts as the dementia progresses so at any one time, the care is always right for your mom or dad.

Homewatch CareGivers believes in creating meaningful moments in a failure-free environment for those living with dementia. The goal is to make your loved one feel safe and confident, not to correct them.

3. How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?

This question lets you know if your in-home care company has someone on call in case you need caregiver help on short notice. Scheduling emergencies can happen at any time, and Homewatch CareGivers believes in being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We want you to know that you can get ahold of someone when you need them.

4. Is the care closely supervised, including maintaining a daily journal in the client’s home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?

When a person comes into your loved one’s home, you need to be sure they’re held accountable for the care they provide. A daily journal made available to you and/or unscheduled supervisor visits gives you peace of mind and also provides caregivers regular coaching so their caring skills can continue to improve.

If you choose to hire an independent caregiver who doesn’t work for an agency, you will be responsible for overseeing the care they provide.

The goal of this question is to find out if you’ll know what’s happening in your absence and if someone is monitoring or paying attention to the care provided to your loved one.

5. Does the agency employ a nurse, social worker, or other qualified professional to make regular visits to the client’s home?

It’s reassuring to have a skilled professional supervising your loved one’s caregivers, especially if your loved one has a chronic health condition. Many medical conditions require extra understanding so caregivers can provide the best possible care. If the agency you’re considering does not have a nurse on staff, look for something like the Homewatch CareGivers University. This professionally developed program assures clients and their families that caregivers are delivering quality care.

6. Do they provide a written document that states your rights and responsibilities as the client and explains the company’s privacy policy and code of ethics?

These documents are required for licensure in many states. You and your loved one need to understand your rights and what’s going to happen. You should not have to ask for this information – it should be part of your home care company’s process to provide it to you. If it is not offered, make sure you ask for it and review it. Be sure you understand these documents and ask more questions until you feel comfortable.

7. Do they triple-screen their caregiver-employees, including reference checks, driving records, and criminal background investigations?

This gets the core of your worries – making sure the person coming into the home is safe. In addition to making sure there’s no criminal background, you also want your in-home care agency to look for other red flags. The triple-screening you’re looking for is background, experience, and compassion.

8. Does the agency mandate ongoing training of its employees so they continually update their skills?

This is also where you want to look for something similar to the Homewatch CareGivers University, which provides caregivers with continual education so they can improve their skills and care for people with a variety of medical issues or chronic conditions. A caregiver cannot cure or medically treat something like congestive heart failure (CHF), but the caregiver does need to understand why a person with CHF shouldn’t eat canned soup (because it has a high salt content). With ongoing training, a caregiver is better able to support the best lifestyle for your loved one’s health and well-being.

9. Does the agency manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal employment practices? (Such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing workers’ compensation and other benefits?)

Questions 9 and 10 really go together.

10. Do they use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person, pays the payroll taxes, and deducts withholding in this case?

What you’re looking for here is to find out if you’re dealing with a registry or an agency. If your home care provider does all the pieces brought up in Question 9, then it’s an agency and the caregiver works for that agency. If it does not, then it’s a registry. Registries match you with an independent contractor caregiver, but it’s then your responsibility to pay their payroll taxes and any workers’ compensation if they get injured while on the job.

A registry would mean the first part of question 10 is a yes, because the people on the registry are independent contractors. That would mean you employ the caregiver, and the taxes are your responsibility.

A registry is often less expensive initially but could cost you more in the long run. It also is not often possible for a registry to provide assurances that your loved one has a caregiver who’s getting ongoing training.

Find a Reliable Home Care Provider Near You

Getting answers to these questions will help you find a trustworthy caregiver, and help you know whether or not you’re responsible for payroll taxes, injuries, and additional paperwork.

While we hope you choose Homewatch CareGivers for your home care needs, the goal is to help you find the right choice for you and your family. Learn more about what sets us apart by scheduling a complimentary consultation today.

Click here to find a Homewatch CareGivers location near you.

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