When caring for your aging parent or loved one becomes overwhelming and you need a break, or when extra help is needed with bathing, feeding, dressing, household duties or if caring for them yourself is just not possible anymore, selecting an in-home health care provider is a good alternative.
Proper screening is essential to ensure that the person you choose has, not only the skills to provide excellent care, but also the right personality for the job. Consider these tips and hints and you will find that hiring an in-home heath care provider does not have to be stressful.
- Evaluate Your Loved One’s Needs
While some older adults just need assistance with basic living skills, others have additional health care needs that require a special skill set. Therefore, it is necessary to make a list of all of the duties that an in-home health care professional will need to provide so you can narrow down the list of candidates early on. If you are hiring through an agency, give them as much information from the start so they can match you up with someone who possesses all of knowledge and capabilities to give the best care possible to your loved one.
If your home health care worker will be assisting with bathing or dressing, it is important to discuss this with your loved one to make sure that they are comfortable with the gender of the companion. Women or men may become embarrassed when opposite gendered health care workers assist them with personal care and this may cause bath time to become stressful.
- Speak With Local Experts
Before you go to the yellow pages or check out the classifieds for home heath aids, speak with neighbors, doctors, and elder care providers locally who can give you some recommendations and advice. Find out where other families have found in-home help and have them tell you about their experience. An administrator at a local nursing home may also have some suggestions for you on where to locate the best care giver. Support groups are a wealth of information, as well.
- Create a Job Description
When you are ready to begin speaking with applicants and conducting interviews, start by writing a job description. The job duties can serve as talking points for your interview and also give the applicants a clear picture of what will be required of them.
- Prepare Interview Questions
If you are not experienced at conducting formal interviews, you will benefit greatly by having a prepared list of questions. It will help you stay in control of the interview, not miss any key points, and make the best use of your time. Write it all down.
- Outline an Employment Contract
Even if the person you select comes highly recommended and you and your family really hit it off with them, make sure to remain professional. This includes having them sign a contract that outlines your expectations, their duties, as well as boundaries. You can then refer back to the contract should a situation arise in the future. Often Home Health Agencies prepare the contracts themselves. Be sure to read them carefully and add anything that you wish to be included.
- Personally Screen Candidates
Since the person you hire will be spending time alone with your parent or loved one, it is essential that you approve them yourself. Having an agency just send someone over is not acceptable in this situation. Even if they can paint a picture of a candidate’s qualifications, because the job of health care provider is so intimate, personality is equally as important. If your loved one is able to participate in the interview, that is ideal. Regardless, they should spend some time together to make sure that they click.
- Conduct a Background Check
Do not trust your intuition. When you think that you have found the person you want to hire, do conduct a background check to make sure that the person you hire does not have a questionable past.
- Check References
Even if this is their first job in the field of health care, every applicant should be able to provide references. Ideally, these should come from past employers. Otherwise, professors, internship supervisors, and personal references can also be used.
- Protect Your Home and Family
Since the health care provider you hire will most likely have free access to your home, possessions, and family members, find out if they are bonded. It they are not bonded themselves, find out if the agency that you hired them from is. Remember not to leave credit cards, checkbooks and personal papers in unsecured areas.
- Stay Involved
Your job is not over once the contract is signed and employment has begun. The more of a presence you have in your loved one’s life the better. Even if you can not be there in person, scheduling telephone meetings can let the health care provider know that you are involved and on top of things. Ask for progress reports and find out if there are any difficulties. Since the health care provider is around your loved one the most, they can give you the best information about their physical health as well as their state of mind.
One way to stay involved is to use a caregiver’s organizer (which we just happen to offer on our website). The Caregiver’s Companion is an organizational tool that has sections for personal information, family history, medications and side effects, medical appointments, and home health care workers notes. I hate selling, but this IS a very good tool in my opinion.
Shelley Webb has been a registered nurse for almost 30 years, with experience in the fields of neonatal intensive care, dialysis, case management and elder care. When her father came to live with her in 2005, the advantages of her medical experience became clear. Due to his dementia and congestive heart failure, her father was not able to care for himself alone any longer and so she took over these duties.
Having experienced the helplessness, frustration, overwhelm and even loneliness that care giving for an aging parent brings, Shelley is well aware of the emotional and educational support that caregivers need and so she began The Intentional Caregiver web site. With its weekly newsletter, daily news updates and monthly audio interviews of experts in elder care and supporting services, Shelley strives to encourage and educate caregivers so that they can be empowered to provide the best possible care for themselves while caring for their aging loved one(s).