Hiring a professional caregiver can stir up a lot of emotions. I have heard everything from relief and a breath of fresh air, to fear of someone in their house or families fighting over how money is spent. My goal in this blog is to help you understand where to look, what to do, and over all a basic understanding in hopes that it might help, enhance, and/or keep your family (and sanity) safe.
So where do you start to hire someone? Well, first we need to understand that not all caregivers are the same. Some work with people with cancer, some amputees, some Alzheimer’s, some do only house chores to free up your time.
First, everyone should understand the care that is needed and then reach out too non-profits who help with it. Second, if you are part of a support group, ask around for who works well in town. Third, here in Northern Nevada we are close to each other, so I encourage you ask you friends or professionals you already work with on ideas of what company to look at. I would caution about using craigslist or Facebook ads as they may not be as they seem or have false ratings. Sites like Medicare’s Home Health Compare is a good online tool to start with. The goal is to find someone who is compassionate and responsible.
Now that you have some ideas on where to look, I really want to focus on understanding your needs and resistances that come with someone in the house. The purpose of hiring professional help is to alleviate tasks that either take up too much time for you to do, too risky, or too difficult. It is important to remember, their job may not be to provide care for the person you are caring for but provide care for you! For example: If pushing the lawnmower is bad for your back, hire someone to do it for you! If you are informed you need to administer a prescription in an exact way that it risks people’s health, hire someone! If you need to go to work or tend to other family needs and you need someone around the house to help with toiletries or cooking, hire someone. I say this because most people who are being cared for do not want someone other than family caring for them as they may feel embarrassed. But if you are hiring someone to help ‘you’ that changes the conversation.
Let us talk about the types of professional caregivers.
- Personal care aids (PCA) and Home health aides (HHA). These types of people generally do basic house care and help with ADL’s (Activity of daily living). Since often not medically licenses, also the most cost effective for out of pocket. Though, due to that same reason are not often covered by insurances. If you need help around the house, PCA and HHA are where most people go.
- Certified nursing assistants (CNA) They work under a RN (Registered nurse) and can do wound care as well as ADLs. More affordable than a RN but cannot provide direct medical care.
- Skilled Nursing Providers (LPN – licensed practical nurses.) These people can provide medical care as well as help with ADLs. I would not hire an LPN to do housework as you can hire more than one type of caregiver, but if your loved one needs medical aid at home, and not in need of a RN, a great way to go.
- Registered Nurse (RN) Hire an RN when you need medical advice and help with all medical equipment in the home. Most RNs work with your doctor to help the doctor understand the medical needs of you loved one and may help direct other caregivers in your home if needed or you live out of state.
The interview. You should never EVER be afraid of telling the person you are hiring what you are paying them for or what to expect. The last thing anyone wants is to walk into a situation where they are told something different. It creates confusion and mistrust. Honesty is the best policy. Say that you need dishes done daily, or they will have to talk to your spouse about a subject for hours on end while they are there. Keep the communication open and expect the same out of the person you hire. Be Direct, Be Honest, and Be Respectful.
Hiring a company vs an individual. Both have their pro’s and con’s depending on the needs of your family. This can be a whole topic itself; So, I will keep it simple:
Hiring a company:
Pros: Should always have a caregiver if your regular is out sick, they handle paperwork, usually better insurance, and screening.
Cons: more costly, often no part time schedules, and you may not be able to pick the caregiver.
Hiring an individual:
Pros: Often more cost effective, you get to know the caregiver personally and you agree on schedules.
Cons: You have to handle the billing and paperwork, if they are out sick no one is there to care for your loved on.
And lastly keeping you, your family and property safe. I always say that “life happens.” Things go wrong we can never expect. So, I want to address problems that happen that most people don’t think of. First, a caregiver will probably never do things the way you would do it. That is fine. It may not be wrong but may make some feel uncomfortable. Second, If the worry of what is going on at home is getting to you, you may want to install nanny cam’s in and around the house. This may work as a double benefit if your loved one is at risk for falling, and you can use the cameras to see if they “fall”.
I knew one family member that stopped by the house at random times during the day to check up on things and it made the whole family feel better knowing that the hired professionals will be randomly checked. I would say 99% professionals are good, honest caring people. It is that 1% that give the industry a bad name. Third, if you worry about theft, simply pull out the old smart phone and make a recording of what is in the house. The professional may tidy things up and put them where they don’t normally belong. So, ask them where an item is before accusing of theft, as it may create tension. Be smart about it and play detective if you are sure its theft. If you hired a company, ask the boss what is going on after you know for sure the item/s were not just misplaced.
If you did your homework, understand your needs, and work with people you can trust, you should find hiring a professional caregiver, (or lawncare/maid to help) a wonderful experience. Most people are grateful on the amount of time and worry that is alleviated from having the extra help.
There are plenty of ways you can do your research on finding the right caregiver for you. AARP offers extensive advice on steps to finding the right home care worker that will suit your needs. Read more here.
Washoecaregivers.org has resources on in-home care. To learn more, click here.