Finding the right home care employee is very similar to choosing the right professional - it takes time to be sure that the selection process is proper, and sometimes the only way that you know you have done a good job and selected the right person is after the fact, through experience. However, the proper process is important.
If an elder loved one is in need of homecare services, normally the first action is to search for candidates. The best ones will often come through word of mouth. If another client of an agency is satisfied with the care and support provided, this is normally a good reference point. If a personal reference is not available, then contacting a local discharge planner at a facility, or contacting the local senior citizen group, such as a council on aging, senior center, or social service agency may be the most appropriate means of finding the right agency.
The next step is to interview the caregiver candidates you find through your search. Keep searching and interviewing until you find the most appropriate person to serve. Make sure that that person has the requisite ability, experience, and compassion to attend your loved one at home. For instance, the proposed caregiver may have significant experience with a person regarding bathing, dressing, feeding, etc., but perhaps they have not dealt with a person with a memory disorder such as Alzheimer’s.
If the caregiver is merely providing light housework, cooking, and companionship, then would he or she also have the ability to transition into a higher level of care if and when the elder needs those services? If the caregiver needs to administer medication, do they have a license to do so? Also, the caregiver should be questioned as to whether they are available for additional hours if needed.
Most agencies have pre-printed agency agreements, and it is very important to review these contracts before signing them. Sometimes the agency is willing to negotiate a change in the contract, and other times they are mandated through a parent company to not adjust the standard agreement. In most agreements there are provisions that the termination of the employee may be at will, without any advance notice or pre-payment.
On the other hand, there may be a provision that if the family wishes to engage the services of the caregiver privately, then there is a significant “buyout” fee that the family must pay to the agency. Also, provisions regarding whether the caregiver is expected to use their own automobile for transportation to doctor’s appointments, sporting events, and activities such as movies, lunches, etc. should be outlined. Most reputable agencies are licensed and bonded, and if desired, these certificates of insurance and liability should be provided to the family prior to the contract’s completion.
The family should clearly define what they need and want for their loved one prior to the signing the contract. It is important for both parties to understand their duties, responsibilities, and the anticipated care prior to the signing of the contract to prevent problems in the future if the services are not provided as expected.
But in getting back to the process of finding the right caregiver for your loved one, your gut reaction is rarely wrong. Do your homework and don’t be hasty.