When a caregiver comes into your home, it needs to be a good fit. How do you find the caregiver that’s right for you?

If you aren’t sure how to go about finding the caregiver, we cover this and more in “What Everyone Ought to Know about Hiring a Caregiver”. We strongly recommend using a quality home care agency to find the caregiver. It will reduce the work involved for you. And, you get a greater level of protection, risk management, and accountability. Contact us if you’d like more information or personalized help.

It’s easy to find the caregiver you’ll love with these steps:

1. Determine what you need.

The most important step to finding the caregiver that’s right is knowing what you need. In home care, we call this process the assessment. Think about: what tasks you’re looking for help with, your routine (desired schedule), and key concerns. This dictates the caregiver you need and how you want to set up the care. Remember, just because a friend loved her caregiver doesn’t mean the caregiver will work for you.

In our EasyLiving assessment process, we find out about the client’s health, abilities (ADLs and IADLs), and challenges. This shows what qualifications and specialties the caregiver may need, as well as helping to develop the care plan.

We also find out who the person is…their likes, dislikes, how they like things to operate in the home, and their background. We can make the best match this way. More importantly, it gives the caregiver guidance. Home care is a personal business and a caregiver should truly enhance the client’s life. By knowing a bit about the person, the caregiver is equipped to do so.

2. Find the caregiver with the right qualifications and skills.

If the caregiver will simply run errands and provide light housekeeping, you may think you don’t need a skilled caregiver. But, most clients need some “hands on” assistance. Even if you don’t need it now, you may at some point (even temporarily after surgery or an illness). It is ideal to have a consistent caregiver/team who can help at those times.

Home Health Aides (HHA) and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) must demonstrate certain key caregiving skills and knowledge. If the caregiver will be helping you to the bathroom, with bathing, or just getting up and down from a chair, you need someone who is properly trained. In-home care comes with a high risk of injury due to the physical nature of the job. Make sure the caregiver is trained in lifting and transferring techniques.

Some agencies only hire HHAs or CNAs, which gives you this added assurance. In addition to this, agencies like EasyLiving provide orientation, training and continuing education. Caregivers may have special knowledge for dementia care, medication assistance and more.

Know the limits of what certain caregivers can do. As mentioned, a “companion” or uncertified caregiver cannot provide physical assistance. Certain skills, such as giving medication or injections, require a nurse. Home care agencies may be able to coordinate various services at different levels.

3. Set expectations.

Be clear about duties and what you expect from the initial meeting. A proper contract lays out key information and can serve as protection. Agencies provide this (and you should review it). Beyond those basics, though, talk through what you’re hoping for and ask questions. Encourage the caregiver to ask questions and clarify anything. If there’s something that’s important to you, no matter how small it may seem, share it.

At EasyLiving, we’ve implemented a process in which our supervisor attends the first caregiver-client meeting. We believe in setting up a good experience and clarifying expectations from the very start.

4. Provide a road map (care plan) and guidance.

The road map for care is called the care plan. This helps direct the care and tasks. A care plan gives the parameters so you get “bang for your buck”. It also means not having to constantly tell the caregiver what to do. They start with an understanding of what’s needed. Of course, it can be adjusted.

We don’t neglect the “little things” in our care planning. Everyone does things a little differently. In your home, you might like things done a certain way. Rather than expecting the caregiver to read your mind, share these things in the care planning.

Do you like your coffee prepared a certain way? Do you want your grapes peeled (we’ve done it!)? Are you a late night owl who hates to be woken up before 10? Is there a certain way you like your bed made or pantry organized? It helps the caregiver to know these things, and it certainly makes your experience more positive.

5. Give constructive feedback for the caregiver. (And, don’t neglect supervision, training, and monitoring change.)

If something needs to be changed, let the caregiver know. Many clients feel uncomfortable doing this directly. Because of this, we do follow up calls and visits to clients. We proactively seek feedback and work with the caregiver on improvement, however slight. Since much of the feedback is positive, this also helps us reward and reinforce great work.

If your family hires the caregiver privately, be sure to plan for oversight. Be aware that your loved one may be reluctant to speak up. A care manager can help oversee the care, troubleshoot before a crisis, and be your liaison.

Do a regular review to monitor changes. As clients age and their condition evolves, needs change. Reassess after a hospitalization or illness. You may need to update the care plan. At times, you might need a new caregiver or additional services.