When someone you love needs a caregiver in the home due to age, illness, or disability, you may struggle with choosing. Sometimes family members make the best caregivers, but depending on your loved one’s needs, a professional may be better suited for the situation.
No matter which you choose, look for someone who can help improve your loved one’s quality of life. If possible, the caretaker should be willing to help keep the client involved in activities, get him or her out of the house some, and be an overall positive presence. Here are a few tips to help you make this difficult decision.
The Decision Is Not Permanent
The choice of a caregiver is an important one that should never be taken lightly. However, many people feel paralyzed by the decision because they think they will be “stuck” with whatever plan they choose. It can help reduce stress to remember that you can always change course if a homecare professional doesn’t work out. Changing caregivers is indeed inconvenient and disruptive, but it is possible, and you will have learned valuable lessons from the unsuccessful attempt. Don’t let fear keep you from making a decision.
Understanding What Your Loved One Needs
Knowing that your loved one needs extra care is one thing. Defining what that looks like is sometimes more difficult. Here are some things to consider.
- Does your loved one need help with the activities of daily living (ADLs)? These are the everyday things that people need to do throughout the day to take care of themselves. Most insurance companies and social services providers recognize six categories of ADLs: eating, bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting, and maintaining continence. As people get older, most will need some assistance with ADLs to keep living independently.
- Is your loved one prone to falls? If so, look for a caregiver who can help with fall prevention. Many medical professionals and caregivers are trained in how to recognize and rectify fall hazards around the home. For family caregivers, the National Council on Aging offers some excellent educational resources.
- Is your loved one no longer able to drive? Are you concerned that public transportation and ride-sharing services are not as safe as you’d like? If so, look for a caregiver who can help with transport. While many people do fine at home, they need help when venturing out to medical appointments, shopping trips, and running other errands.
- Are household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and taking medications getting more difficult for your loved one? Often family caregivers can help with these things, but professional agencies also offer workers who can do an excellent job.
An honest conversation between you and your loved one and other involved family members can help everyone understand their needs. Your loved one’s family doctor or other medical providers can provide valuable input as well. The Institute on Aging offers a helpful tool called A Geriatric Care Assessment that may help clarify the needs.
Writing a Job Description
Once you know your loved one’s needs, you can turn that knowledge into a written job description. While it may seem extreme, a written plan helps avoid any misunderstandings about expectations. It gives you talking points if you need to interview a potential homecare worker, and it saves you time. People who aren’t comfortable with the written job description hopefully won’t apply. Be honest and thorough when you are writing; don’t leave out things that might be unpleasant. You want to hire someone ready, willing, and able to perform every part of the job.
Of course, you want to interview candidates from agencies and anyone you don’t know well, but it can also be helpful to interview family members interested in providing care. It helps clarify expectations and avoid hurt feelings along the way. No matter who you are talking with, don’t be afraid to ask direct questions about work experience, personality, and personal experiences that might affect the job.
Checking References and Background Checks
If you are using an agency, it should take care of these things for you. However, ask about the specifics of their background check process. Depending on where you live, different databases are available, and licensing requirements vary. If you are not using an agency, check local laws about what information you can access and what paperwork you may require. Most states have some public records level that you can access to look for abusive caregivers, felony convictions, etc.
Making a Decision
Even with all the information available, you may feel stressed when you have to decide and choose a caregiver. The final decision may come down to what you all feel good about rather than anything written in black and white. If you need help with any part of the process, contact us online or call 716) 431-5550 and our team at Trusted Choice Homecare will be glad to help.
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