10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver

10 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Caregiver

They are scary and keep creeping back. You try to push them down, but they resurface. Do I have a false sense of security regarding my parents’ well-being? They are managing at home alone, right? How can I trust a caregiver I hire to take care of Mom? How can I trust this stranger who will suddenly be coming into her home and into all of our lives?

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

Homewatch CareGivers has a list of 10 questions we feel any person should ask a prospective senior home care provider. We want to answer these questions to equip you with the best information as you search for your in-home care solution and make your decision.

Here are the 10 questions at a glance:

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

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

3. How are emergencies handled after normal business hours?

4. Do they closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of a daily journal in the client’s home and non-scheduled supervisory visits?

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

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

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

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

9. Does the agency manage all payroll and employee-related matters and adhere to state and federal guidelines in its employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing workers’ compensation and other benefits?

10. Do they also use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person and pays the mandated taxes and withholdings in this case?

It’s also important to understand what answers you are seeking in regard to these questions.

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

What you’re looking for here is experience. 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?

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

Dementia and Alzheimer’s care demonstrates this well. At Homewatch CareGivers, we believe that every dementia care client should not only get a customized care plan, but their caregivers should learn about their social history 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 also offers Pathways to Memory, a unique dementia care program that focuses on one-on-one interaction with the goal of creating meaningful moments in a failure-free environment. 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 and how the staff will notify you if there is an urgent situation regarding your loved one. Emergencies do not wait until business hours 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. Do they closely supervise the quality of care, including maintenance of 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 are held accountable for the care they provide. A daily journal and supervisor visits also give caregivers regular coaching so their caring skills can continue to improve. This goal of this question is to make sure you know what is happening and that someone is always 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?

A nurse is not required, but it’s another reassurance to have a skilled professional supervising your loved one’s caregivers, especially if your loved one has a chronic condition. Many conditions require extra understanding so caregivers can provide the best kind of care. If the agency you are considering does not have a nurse on staff, look for something like the Homewatch CareGivers University. This professionally-developed program gives an agency the same sort of credibility and reliability. These steps give you an assurance of quality care.

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

These documents are required by licensure in many states across the U.S. It is important for you and your loved one 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 carefully, including use of 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 are no questionable legal issues, you also want your in-home care agency to look for other factors. The triple-screening you’re really looking for is background, experience and compassion. A clean background doesn’t necessarily mean a person is suited to the sensitive job of caregiving.

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

This is also where you want to look for something similar to the Homewatch CareGivers University. This 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 guidelines in its employment practices, such as withholding appropriate taxes and providing workers’ compensation and other benefits?

Questions 9 and 10 really go together.

10. Do they also use independent contractors? If so, who employs the person and pays the mandated taxes and withholdings in this case?

What you are looking for here is to find out if you are dealing with a registry or an agency. If your home care provider does all the pieces brought up in Question 9, then it is an agency. If it does not, then it is a registry. Registries match you with a caregiver, but it is 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 similar to independent contractors. That would mean you employ the caregiver and the taxes are your responsibility.

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

Our hope is that you are able to get the answers to these questions before you make a decision in hiring a caregiver. The main goal is to find the right choice for you and your family.

Click here to find a Homewatch CareGivers location near you.

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