Hiring an In-Home Caregiver for Seniors – Key things to keep in mind
Author: Sarah Keller
In-home caregivers provide assistance to seniors in need of help with their daily activities. They make life easier for elderly people who prefer to stay home and maintain their independence instead of moving into a nursing home or assisted living community.
But while many in-home caregivers are trained or certified, they cannot be expected to perform complex health-care-related tasks like nurses and other trained medical personnel. In-home caregivers focus on helping seniors with activities of daily living, which may include full-time nursing care.
Responsibilities of an In-Home Caregiver
To maximize the benefits of homecare services, you must first have a clear understanding of the responsibilities of an in-home caregiver and the type of care they offer. Being aware of what your caregiver can and cannot do helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures that your senior loved ones are receiving adequate support to continue living independently at home.
Professional caregivers help seniors with basic tasks and may also provide specialized care, such as:
● Basic healthcare (e.g recording BP and glucometer readings)
● Support with personal hygiene and grooming
● Transferring safely from bed to wheel chair, use of bathroom and showers to minimize fall risk
● Household chores
● Preparing and cooking meals
● Bathing and using the toilet
● Medication administration and reminders
● Running errands (e.g. grocery trips)
● Help with transportation (e.g doctors appointments, dialysis visits)
● Emotional support, one on one engagement and companionship
An in-home caregiver’s responsibilities can include a few or all of the things mentioned above. It may also change depending on the needs of the patient. The first step to hiring a caregiver is to assess the level of care a senior requires, which may include everything from personal care to household maintenance to emotional support to basic healthcare.
2. Independent Caregivers vs Home Care Agency
Caregivers can be hired directly or through a private agency. Between the two, using an agency is the better choice if you need someone right away or it’s your first time to hire a caregiver and not sure how to find the right person.
Most people hire independent home care givers directly through referrals. Although some independent caregivers are educated in medical responsibilities, most of them focus on assisting seniors with activities of daily living (ADL). Moreover, their pay may vary greatly depending on the level of education, experience, and abilities or responsibilities required.
In home care
Many seniors and their families hire caregivers through home care agencies. These are licensed businesses, and many of whom are Medicare-approved or private pay. Depending on the needs of their clients, several home care companies provide a range of services from basic, non-medical care to in-home, skilled nursing care.
While hiring through an agency is more expensive, you may rest assured that the caregivers have been thoroughly verified and vetted. In the event that your regular caregiver becomes ill, a home care company usually has backup caregivers. Use an agency if you don’t have time to conduct interviews or are concerned that you won’t be able to employ and maintain someone on your own.
Tips for Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
1. Determine the Level of Care Needed
There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to home care. In-home caregivers offer a variety of services, depending on the needs of the family they are working with. Spend some time figuring out what exactly your loved one will be needing assistance with. The more detailed and specific the list of support needs, the better the match with a caregiver will be. There are elders who merely need help with domestic chores like cooking and cleaning, while others may require assistance with ADLs like getting out of bed, transfers, dressing, or bathing, 1-1 engagement to slow progression of disease, rehab exercises as part of stroke recovery, and other more advanced needs. Alternatively, you may be on the lookout for someone who is capable of administering or reminding on prescriptions, tending to wounds, or providing treatments or dementia care.
2. Evaluate Your Budget
In-home care can be expensive depending on how much assistance your loved one requires. Thus, it’s a good idea to assess your budget before taking any steps further, so that you aren’t surprised by additional expenses. If you budget carefully and thoughtfully across your available sources of funding, this will make for a stable and well managed care model.
Look at all your options, including your private pay budget, Medicare, Medicaid options available, and any other insurance your family member may have. You may also want to check if they qualify for financial assistance, in part or full. Most states have in-home assistance programs for low-income seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid.
3. Discuss the Plan of Care with your home care company and caregiver
Your in-home care provider should be guided by a care plan that specifies what is and is not expected of them. By clearly outlining parameters, a care plan protects both the caregiver and the person they are caring for.
When creating your care plan, make sure to include:
● All essential information about the individual being cared for (including medical information, emergency contacts, and daily habits)
● A detailed description of the tasks that must be completed on a regular basis
● Objectives for the person who is receiving care (these might include eating better, going on a daily walk, more engagement with others, or other goals to improve quality of life)
Review the entire care plan with the caregiver before starting with them for in-home care support and make sure to address any questions or concerns they may have.
4. Ask for Credentials and References
When hiring home care professionals, education and certifications are just as significant as previous work experience and character. While caregivers with higher qualifications command higher fees, they bring a higher degree of knowledge and competence to the work. Some tasks that certified Caregivers are qualified to do may not be available to non certified Caregivers.
Moreover, you should still run background checks, even if the person you interviewed seemed perfect. It’s important to examine references before making a decision to see if there are any red flags. Good quality home care companies will welcome you asking them for references.
5. Have a Back-up Plan
You count on your care givers to do a good job taking care of your loved one, But what happens if he or she becomes ill, takes a vacation, or is otherwise unable to help you? You must plan ahead of time for what you will do in their absence.
If you use a good quality home care agency, they will handle this for you and always plan ahead with backups and redundancies. Agencies usually have a pool of workers they can call in an emergency. However, if you’ve hired independently, you’ll need to make a backup plan with your family and agree on what to do/who is responsible if something unexpected happens.
6. Stay Involved and detail oriented
Effective communication is essential to keeping a healthy working relationship with your in-home caregiver and to ensuring that your senior family member’s needs are met. Schedule for regular meetings with the caregiver, so both of you can have the opportunity to discuss any questions or concerns you might have.
Most importantly, make sure to ask your loved one how they feel about the home care service and if they’re satisfied with the caregiver’s work. Don’t forget to check in regularly to see how things are going and if their needs are being addressed.
Do you live in Dallas Fort Worth area? Care Mountain provides award-winning in-home care. We are a high quality home health care provider with 16 years of experience providing personalized care for 3,000+ DFW families and have high quality, experienced caregivers available to support you and your loved ones needs.
Give us a call to discuss your needs.