As a caregiver, it can be difficult to find the right care for your loved one. A good in-home care service is more than just someone coming over and taking care of them. They need to be able to provide quality time as well as medical attention. This post will talk about some tips on how you can find proper in-care for your older loved ones.
How To Find Quality In-Home Care
As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, many are faced with the difficult decision of how to care for their aging loved ones. Whether it be a parent, spouse, or sibling, many people find themselves unsure about what kind of elder care services is best for them and who should provide that care. The good news is there are great providers out there that offer outstanding care, which can help put you at ease.
Determine The Needs Of Your Love One
The first that you should do is determine the needs of your loved one. Knowing their needs allows you to choose the best service suited specifically to them. The best way to go about this is to create a list of their needs and then match them against the offerings of the various facilities you’re reviewing. This will help to give you a clear picture of which one ticks the majority if not all of your boxes.
A lot of home care options offer opportunities for personalization. In-home care aides provide different services based on every family’s unique needs. When hiring a caregiver, consider these potential needs:
- Does your loved one need help with daily living activities? If yes, needing assistance is a major sign that it’s time to hire a caregiver. Some may need help with a few daily activities like bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. Others may need full-time assistance with eating, drinking, and using the restroom.
- Do they need transportation? If your parent can’t drive, then they may need help to and from doctor’s appointments, activities, family visits, and events.
- Do they need housekeeping? If so, what tasks must the caregiver do? Does your elderly loved one just need help with small-to-moderate tasks like keeping the floors clean, cooking, and cleaning bathrooms, or are they looking for someone who will do all household chores? Take note of these needs. If your loved one needs more constant monitoring or care, you probably shouldn’t expect the caregiver to do all household chores.
- Does your loved one need specialized care? If your elderly family member has dementia, renal urological disorder, incontinence, and other similar conditions, caregivers with special skills and credentials are needed.
- Do they need companionship? If your aging family member is fairly independent but experiencing isolation or loneliness, home care can help increase their social interaction. If what they need most is companionship, make sure to interview the caregiver first with your elderly family member to make sure their personalities match. In this case, the caregiver you choose must be fluent in the language your loved one speaks.
- Do they need medical care? Most caregivers don’t have nursing degrees, so if you need someone who can provide injections, serious wound care, and monitoring using a medical device, you might want to look into home health care instead. The same applies if your loved one has a chronic condition.
- Do they have gender preferences? Is your elderly family member more comfortable around women, men, or LGBTQ?
- List down your loved one’s habits, “quirks,” and irritations that the caregiver must prepare to face. Do they like to take long walks in the morning? Do they like to be left alone at certain points of the day? Do they like their breakfast cooked in a certain way? Do they have fits whenever they see someone smoking? Are there smells they don’t like? Do they easily get frustrated when they see messiness or disorder? Make a list of their pet peeves so your potential caregiver can prepare for it.
Consider What Is Best For Their Mental And Physical Health
It can be hard to put aside personal feelings and opinions when it comes to the elders in our lives. However, when acting as a caregiver, you have to be willing to put their health and wellbeing into priority. Ask yourself what is best for their mental and physical health? This may lead you to get in-home care full time to help ease the tension from your relationship with them. This is oftentimes due to it being easier for them to ask a non-family member or someone close for help. You may also have to recognize that you aren’t trained to help with a lot of their physical needs.
Depending on their condition they may need specialized help which you simply aren’t trained to provide. There is no shame in seeking help and in the long run it can prove to be the best thing you did as a caregiver. More than anything, you want to make them feel like their life is still in their control.
Choose the Best Type of Caregiver for Your Elderly Loved One
Many seniors prefer to stay at home because the familiarity of the place can give them much comfort. Those needing specialized care, palliative, or end-of-life care often hire full-time caregivers whose skills, caregiving credentials, and fees vary depending on the client’s needs. There are three kinds of caregivers to choose from, so make sure you hire the right type for your family’s needs.
1. Companion caregivers
They are non-medical caregivers that offer the role of companions and homemakers. When families need a respite from their caregiving duties, companions can provide support and comfort to seniors. These people can perform housekeeping duties, prepare meals, and even transport clients to their doctor’s appointments and outings.
2. Home healthcare aides
These caregivers are professionals who can perform the same duties as companion caregivers and more. Certified home healthcare aides can perform hands-on care, like bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, and ambulation. But they cannot administer or dispense medications but can only prompt clients to do so.
3. Medical caregivers
Medical caregivers can either be certified medical assistants (AMAs), registered nurses (RNs) or certified/registered nursing assistants (CNAs/RNAs). Most seniors can meet their needs by AMAs or CNAs, but RNs are often called in for specialized care needs like stroke, cancer, and advanced dementia. Medical caregivers can perform the duties described above while offering comprehensive medical care in both home and facility settings. These professionals can:
- Monitor vital signs and record health patterns and behaviors
- Administer medications and give injections
- Care for wounds and apply topical ointments
- Perform treatments like douches, enemas, enteral feeding, catheterization, etc.
Know What to Expect when Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
There are two ways to hire a caregiver: through a home care agency or through independent or private caregivers.
1. Using a home care agency
If you don’t have lots of time to consider applicants one by one, you may employ the service of a caregiver placement agency. They can find the best fit for your elderly from their roster of caregivers. The primary appeal of using a caregiver agency or service is that they typically:
- Do a background check and screen each applicant carefully, so you can make sure that any person they send is qualified
- Provide or confirm training and credentials
- Handle essential paperwork like contracts and legal matters, and handle payroll, taxes, and benefits of the caregiver
- Provide backup caregivers if the caregiver is sick or unavailable
- Offer strict guidelines for their employees, as the caregivers would have to abide by agency policies when caring for your loved one.
The drawback to hiring a caregiver through an agency is that it may put your elderly loved one at risk of greater contact exposure, as the caregiver may visit many different clients each week. Also, the caregiver could change more frequently.
2. Using independent caregivers
Another option is to hire a private, independent caregiver so you can have more control over your schedule and personality, but it can also present an elevated risk and liability. First and foremost, any safety and background check falls on you. You may need to verify their background, credentials, and referrals personally.
With an independent caregiver, you get a more flexible schedule or set of services that may fit your elderly’s specific needs. Also, the best thing about hiring an independent caregiver is that you can prioritize finding someone whose personality and interests match those of your elderly family member for a more personalized companionship.
Getting an independent caregiver means you have to make a lot more effort on your part. You need to consult with a local attorney or accountant while working with them, especially when writing up a contract. Your elderly family member’s insurance may not cover an independent caregiver. Also, there will be no backup coverage in case your independent caregiver is sick or unavailable.
When hiring an independent caregiver, remember that any legal issues a home care agency normally handles will be your responsibility. For instance, if the caregiver got injured or harmed while caring for your loved one, they may sue you for damages. You may also need to follow appropriate tax laws.
Know What to Look for When Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
These are some things seniors and families must consider when hiring an in-home caregiver:
Something else you should consider is asking family and friends for recommendations. Maybe someone you know is also a caregiver and has used this type of service before. You can get quality recommendations from them, or at the very least, you can ask them all of the questions you have in mind. This will help to save you time and set you in the right direction. With all of the facilities out there, it can get overwhelming, but having some guidance can make the process much easier.
A caregiver can have all the credentials and experience in the world but still not have the personality that clicks with the client and the family. You must be comfortable with the person, as it will be essential that you have a good relationship with them. You don’t want to entrust one of the most important people in your life to just anyone.
You’ll have to go with your gut and instincts when running background checks. Sometimes, you can feel if the person certainly has care and compassion or not. Check the national database or the profile provided by the agency if there are no red flags. And be sure to ask questions that can help determine if they can provide excellent care and if they have a common ground with the client.
3. Credentials, experience, licensing
Make sure to find a caregiver with the proper credentials and experience to provide for your loved one’s needs, particularly if they need assistance with medications or daily activities. However, it’s important to note that some states don’t require credentials and certifications to hold caregiver roles, so make sure to confirm licensures.
When considering a potential caregiver, do more than ask for their references. Actually, call the people listed in it and listen for any complaints or hesitancy in commenting that may indicate some issues. Also, confirm their length of employment, especially if you’re looking for a long-time helper.
Conduct an In-Depth Interview
It’s important to interview any potential caregivers. During the interview, make sure to avoid being discriminatory towards future employees. Here are some helpful talking points you may want to ask the caregiver:
- Tell me a bit about your work experiences.
- What were your previous jobs, and what did you like and dislike about them?
- Tell me about your specialized training or licensing.
- Are there any possible activities appropriate for the patient?
- If ever the patient becomes irritable or combative, how will you handle them?
- Based on your experience, what makes you happy while at work?
While conducting the interview, you have to share with them the details of the job. Here are some things you can do to make the interview more productive:
- Give them a list of duties and the elderly’s special care needs. Then, ask them if they can handle everything on the list of the patient’s irritations and nuances.
- Give them lists of people or family members that the caregiver would eventually interact with – the people who usually or may sometimes visit your elderly family member. Caregivers must know them so they won’t be surprised.
- Tell them about your visitor policies. Will you allow your in-home caregiver to have personal visitors or not?
- Discuss salary and benefits and schedule of payment.
- Discuss holiday pay and vacations allowed.
- Discuss how you will regulate petty cash. Sometimes, you may need to leave some money for household expenses, and you may sometimes need to reimburse the caregiver if the expenses they spent, given that they provide receipts as proof of payments.
Once you have chosen the one to hire, make sure you leave them with instructions and details about the care recipient, special care needs, and some home and emergency protocols.
Provide or Ask for a Contract
You will need a detailed contract to seal the deal. This step will vary depending if you choose to work with a home care agency or an independent caregiver. If you choose to work with a home care agency, they will provide a standard contract and other documents for you to fill out and sign before starting service. Make sure you read the document entirely before signing.
But if you choose to work with an independent caregiver, they may have pre-written contracts of their own. If they did not have a template contract, you might have to create one. Here are some details that must be found in the contract:
- An in-home care contract typically includes the following information:
- Full names and contact information of the caregiver, care receiver, and employer
- A thorough job description agreed upon by both parties
- Salary information, including rates, holidays, leaves
- House rules and expectations for behavior (for example, no smoking, no drinking, no loud noises, being on time, no entering the master’s bedroom, etc.)
- Paperwork requirements
- Transportation issues if the caregiver is expected to use their or your private vehicle, or public transportation for running client-related errands or for transporting the client
- Description of any grounds for termination
You may like the caregiver at the interview, and you may see no need for a detailed contract, but for your future safety, you must make sure that all details regarding their job are agreed upon. If any problems may arise in the future, you can refer to the contract for potential solutions. This may save you from having to go to court should a dispute arise.
Providing care for your loved one isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it is extremely rewarding. Doing the best for them may mean finding additional help. If you find yourself in that position, hopefully, this article has helped you on how to find a quality facility that provides top-notch care for the people in your life. Remember that you both need to feel comfortable with the staff and the services should match the needs of your loved one!