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Choosing a caregiver for your loved one can be a daunting task. So much to think about. Competency, trust, invasion of people into your home or theirs. The list is endless.
If you’re stuck in the sandwich generation and your parents or other loved ones are beginning to get older, you’ve probably thought about getting some help for that person. Maybe they’ve already told you they want to stay in their home, but you can recognize their decline and need for help with activities of daily living.
My need for obtaining care for an aging parent didn’t come upon me slowly, but rather I found myself suddenly propelled into an event that left my mother unable to care for herself. At the time my mother was living with me, and in a matter of hours, she went from complete independence to complete dependence.
The shock of the situation left me almost paralyzed, and for several weeks I cared for her by myself with some help from my daughter and friends from church. The day I found my mother in the closet trying to go to the bathroom was the day I knew I needed outside help.
I finally got it – my mother’s life as she knew it was over and so was mine.
For several months I struggled to find the right help and assistance. After contacting my local Elder Services, my mother was approved for morning and afternoon care five days a week and participation in a local elder day care center complete with transportation services.
It was a huge help but not nearly enough.
As soon as 5 PM hit, I was on duty and responsible for all of my mother’s care including 24-hour care on the weekends. I knew I needed more help but where was I going to find someone trustworthy, patient, and kind to help me out? Where does one find the right help for an aging parent?
HERE ARE 5 ESSENTIAL TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN CHOOSING A CAREGIVER
DETERMINE THE RANGE OF SERVICES NEEDED
Make a list of daily activities and evaluate the help that is needed in the areas of health care, personal care, and household care.
Do you need home health care, such as physical therapy, nursing care or medication management? Do you need someone with the knowledge and experience to handle dementia or physical limitations?
Do you need non-medical personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation, or are you looking mainly for a companion or sitter? Do you need someone who can prepare diet-specific meals?
By reviewing this list of daily activities, you’ll be better able to determine the specific duties the caregiver will be expected to provide.
Keep in mind this may mean hiring more than one person to meet the needs of your loved one.
PREPARE A JOB DESCRIPTION
Write out a job description based on the help that is needed. Be sure to include if you’re looking for someone with
Be sure to include if you’re looking for someone with healthcare training and what type (Certified Nursing Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse).
Will they be required to have a car and valid driver’s license? If so, include it in your job description and indicate whether they will be expected to transport your parent to appointments or errands.
If there’s an expectation they need to use special equipment or will need to lift your parent, you should include those duties as well.
You may need to write more than one job description because it’s unlikely one person will be able to meet all the needs if your loved one’s care is complex or complicated.
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START THE SEARCH
Start thinking about where you can find a pool of good candidates. Maybe you have a neighbor or friend who would be a great caregiver, who has done a similar job in the past. If you belong to a church, ask your pastor or minister for prospects.
Try to stay away from using family members. Hiring, managing, and firing a caregiver are all business decisions, and for that reason, many family members don’t make good paid help.
Care.com has already done a preliminary background check on all the caregivers who are allowed to post a profile on the site. It has reviews as well which may make it helpful for you when searching for a caregiver.
Private firms, such as Home Health VNA’s, provide well-trained caregivers, but you’ll pay almost double for them, and for this reason, it can be cost prohibitive to use them long-term unless you have endless resources.
Finally, if you’re getting services from an agency, many of the help are always looking for outside work or have friends who are looking for work. Most agencies have policies prohibiting their staff from accepting work from their clients, but I know for a fact it happens all the time. Honestly, they make the best help you can find.
INTERVIEW ALL APPLICANTS THAT SEEM APPROPRIATE
To save time, do an initial screen over the phone before you invite them to a face-to-face interview.
Sometimes people are different over the phone than they are in person either in a good or bad way. If you feel someone didn’t do as well as you had expected during the phone interview, set up a time for them to come and meet with you face to face.
Always observe the interactions between the worker and your parent.
Make sure you check references carefully. Talk with everyone who is given as a reference. You’re looking for people who are dependable, qualified and reliable. Make sure to ask the references specific questions related to your circumstances.
Finally, get a criminal background check on any potential hires. When doing so, make a copy of the person’s license and or social security card to ensure all identifying information is correct and verified on the CORI form.
Once you’ve hired the best candidate for the job, monitor the quality of services the caregiver provides. Do this by making personal contact with the caregiver, regular home visits with the elder, and getting periodic reports from the caregiver and the agency.
Watch for signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and report suspicious activity to the proper authorities.
Home monitoring devices are inexpensive and may give you peace of mind. Consider installing a few cameras in the elders home or in their primary caregiving area to observe interactions when you’re not around.
To ensure your success, use these strategies, and enhance your chances of finding the best caregiver for your aging parent.
Here are a few home monitoring cameras I recommend:
My search for the right caregiver was an ongoing process. People move, or get sick or even get tired of doing the work. Hiring the right caregiver will be a process you’ll end up repeating several times over the course of your experience.
I was fortunate to have found some wonderful, loving, caring women to help me with my mother. I had three women I used regularly, and collectively they were with us for over three years. Today, I still consider them part of my family, and we are a part of theirs.
It’s been an enjoyable experience because I followed the tips I’ve outlined for you here.
Remember, choosing a caregiver for your family member takes time and patience. But finding the perfect fit for your family is possible when you follow the guidelines I’ve provided for you here.
If you have questions or comments please leave them in the comments section or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.