With aging comes the strong likelihood that we will need a caregiver; someone to help with daily tasks and personal hygiene. Often it is not practical for family members and friends to provide all the assistance that a loved one needs. Finding a caregiver usually falls on females in the family as they are the main caregivers.
Care provider agencies provide this type of assistance. However the transition can be fraught with frustration when family members make incorrect assumptions that caregivers are trained, trustworthy and do not need supervision. Additionally in many cases, the person needing the care resists the idea and can cause difficulties in initially making the transition to accepting care. Many times the agency caregiving relationship is misconstrued as a family relationship versus an employer to employee relationship and individuals receiving care often cross the boundary creating issues that result in situations of potential conflict of interest, safety or abuse.
Meet the company owner. Establish a relationship with the owner and the supervisor of the home care agency to create an environment that supports open communication about concerns, possible solutions and alternatives. Request the educational background of the company owner and ask why they are qualified to provide this service? Never hesitate to call with issues. Ask how often they will contact YOU to request feedback. You should receive a personal call immediately after initiation of services and then on a regular schedule not to exceed 90 days.
Ask for qualifications. Request a copy of the company liability and workers compensation insurance. Ask if caregivers are background checked and what specifically is checked for example criminal background, driving record, credit background, drug testing. If the agency runs only a criminal background check they may be missing a poor driving record that may indicate irresponsible behavior, substance abuse or a credit record that may indicate poor money management. Issues with any or all of these may potentially expose your family member to issues of safety, abuse or neglect.
How is time kept and billed? Companies with a high degree of supervision use automated time and attendance systems whereby the caregiver calls in from the home of the client and calls out when leaving. This serves as a time clock to ensure that you are not being billed for time the caregiver is not in the home. It also alerts the agency if their caregiver does not show up to work as scheduled. Paper systems are more commonly used, however if this is the case request a copy to be included with your invoice so you can review the information.
Do not cause issues for your caregiver. I have often witnessed clients telling their caregivers to leave a shift early but not to mark time accurately so they are paid for the entire shift. This causes issues of dishonesty for the caregiver who knowingly falsifies paperwork at the request of the client. Be a good client and don’t cause these issues for your caregiver or their agency.
Create a task list. Many times the individual receiving care cannot make a task list for the caregiver often resulting in unproductive time. Make a list for the caregiver and your parent or family member. Share this with the agency to make your expectations clear and to ensure that the agency can provide the assistance needed. Some agencies provide companionship only and not other caregiving tasks, know which you are hiring.
Put together a photo album or a journal describing your loved one’s life, interests, accomplishments, family and friends. Providing a history for caregivers invites them to bring a genuine understanding of the care they are providing. Or better, yet, make this a project that your loved one and the caregiver can do together to validate the importance of the life lived by your family member.
Maintain a professional relationship. No matter how close you or your loved one becomes with the hired caregiver the caregiver is NOT your family. By creating and maintaining a professional relationship you ensure results that are in your best interest and avoid the potential of financial or personal abuse. Never, except at the holiday when it can be documented and approved by the agency, give gifts, tips, unused household items as you are training the caregiver that accepting items is okay. IT IS NOT!
By instituting these tips you might feel as though you are personally training the agency and caregiver. You are! Each individual and situation is different and many hired caregivers are average people without extensive training.
It is important to create an outline of the care you expect; adult caregiving can be difficult and challenging and is definitely not for everyone. If you are dissatisfied with your caregiver contact that agency and request a replacement. The best way to provide quality of care for your loved one is to establish a genuine understanding expected outcomes of the care being provided and the implementation of professional boundaries. how to find a caregiver for elderly