How to Hire a Caregiver – What to Look For

Caring for an aging relative is a major concern for families. And there usually comes a time when the family caregiver is no longer able to handle caregiving duties, or at least, not able to handle these duties full time. Family members generally need to hire in-home caregivers because they work outside the home and need someone else to help when they’re away at work. A professional caregiver can offer the family a much-needed respite when they take over the elder care duties. But hiring a professional home care aide is tough to do because family members don’t know who would be a good fit. Plus, it’s hard to turn a parent’s care over to just anyone.

The safest way to hire a caregiver is to work with a reputable in-home care agency. Preferably, one that specializes or has experience handling your loved-one’s special needs. The home care company handles the background checks, the interview, the training, paying the payroll taxes and insurance. But for the family, hiring a caregiver on your own can save a lot of money.

When hiring an a home care agency, apply these guidelines:

  • Ask people you know and trust for referrals.
  • Tell reliable friends that you’re looking to hire a caregiver and ask for a referral.
  • Search through the home care agency websites (pay particular attention to the FAQ sections)
  • Find out how often they perform background checks on the staff?
  • What type of training does the agency give the staff? Are they certified in CPR?
  • Do they offer specialized care? Such as Alzheimer’s or dementia care? Parkinson’s? MS?

Before you call the home care company, make a list of what you need done. The position should explicitly describe what care services your parent needs. Create a list out your expectations of the caregiver and the agency. If you need someone just 3 days a week, be sure to let the organization know that it is not a full-time job. Tell them how often you need a home aide and how often that will change.

Know what types of caregiver duties do you require? For example, will the home care aide perform:

  • Light housekeeping?
  • Driving to appointments?
  • Help with bathing?
  • Help with transport to and from the toilet?
  • Meal planning and cooking?
  • Shopping and running errands?
  • Incontinence help?
  • Medication management?
  • etc.

Does your loved-one need specialized care for dementia? If so, what types of dementia care training has the caregiver received?

Make a list of qualities that you want the home help aide to have:

  • Patience
  • A sense of humor
  • A strong personality
  • A gentle and kind soul
  • To have knowledge on elder care issues
  • To receive ongoing training
  • To have deep experience
  • Communicative
  • Self- motivated
  • Likes to have fun
  • Someone who is creative
  • A person who responds quickly
  • Someone who enjoys responsibilities
  • etc.

The Interview

Interviewing for a caregiving position is a complicated process. You may not have much time to conduct the interview. Here are few questions you may want to ask:

  • How long have you worked as a caregiver?
  • Tell me about your past work experience.
  • What did you like or not like about your previous jobs and why?
  • Do you have any specialized training or experience?
  • Are you willing to perform the following duties? (List the duties you require, including future needs that you expect)
  • What activities would you do with my parent?
  • Which caregiving task gives you the most pleasure?
  • Describe a typical day of giving care?
  • Why have you chosen this profession?

Be sure to lay out all your expectations for the position and ask the right questions to help ensure there are no surprises post-hire, and if possible, have your loved one participate in the hiring process.