The decision to hire a caregiver privately, versus through an agency, is a big step for the family of an older adult.  It is for the older adult as well.  Bringing someone into your loved one’s own home, and getting to know them while they care for them and help them remain independent takes a leap of faith.  It often works out very well and new friendships are formed that can forever alter everyone’s lives.  But there is more to it than a leap of faith.  How do you, as a caregiver, assure a good outcome in hiring a caregiver for your loved one?  Here are some things to consider:


Understand Your Loved One’s Level of Care

What do they need help with?  Personal care?  Driving?  Shopping?  Meal Preparation?  Medication Management?  Socialization?  Housekeeping and laundry?  Are they safe to be alone some part of the day, and only need assistance for certain activities?  Will there be heavy lifting involved?  Make a list of the areas your loved one will need assistance.  You will need it to define the job and to interview candidates.


Define the Job

After itemizing your loved one’s care needs, decide on a weekly budget and the hours for a caregiver.  Will it be a seven day a week job?  If so, will you be looking for two caregivers to cover the whole week?  What are your loved one’s preferences?  If they have a chronic illness with special needs, are you looking for someone with that specific experience?


Finding Candidates to Interview

Where to look?  While we live in an online world, there remain traditional methods of hiring.  Ask around.  Church members, friends, neighbors.  Local geriatric care managers often know caregivers with whom we have worked, and if you know a care manager, this is a good call to make.  (The caregivers I have worked with often let me know when they are in between assignments and ready to be hired by a new family.)

Having said that, there are also online options for posting your position.  Carelinx.com and care.com are two.  Do you know of others?


Sitting Down to Interview

When meeting with potential caregivers, do the following:  ask as many questions as needed to get a sense of the candidate(s); be clear about the expectations for the job – daily and weekly responsibilities, schedule, days off, personal preferences of the care recipient.  Get at least three references.  For the candidates you like, call each one of their references for a complete background check.


Final Steps for Hiring

Found one or two candidates you really like and feel are right for the job?  The remaining steps for hiring involve negotiating an hourly rate, and determining how the caregiver(s) will be paid (i.e. cash, check, direct deposit).


Final Steps – Have Your Ducks in a Row and Don’t Forget Taxes and Insurance

It is advisable to consult your accountant for guidance in managing your tax liability as the employer of a privately hired caregiver.  Also consult with your insurance agent for your home owner’s policy regarding domestic employees.