Your family’s decided to hire a caregiver. Often, this comes after much discussion, some crises, and maybe a few arguments. So, it may feel like the easy part lies ahead. Now, you’ll just call up the lady your neighbor used or the home care agency you found online. But, right from the start, it’s easy to head down the wrong path.

Hiring a Caregiver: Where to Go for Help

Before we reveal the biggest mistake you can make, let us help you avoid a few during the initial process of finding someone.

Consider the value of hiring a caregiver through a home care agency. Know the liabilities and risks you take if you decide to be the employer. Many families underestimate this until they run into problems. If you hire someone via a recommendation, make sure you’ve planned for liability coverage, handling taxes, and overseeing the caregiver. You’ll need to be the manager, dealing with expectations, troubleshooting, sick days, etc. When you have a solo caregiver there’s no one to fill in if she/he gets sick or needs a personal day.

Hire the right agency. Be diligent in this step. While agencies are typically regulated by the state, there’s still wide variation in quality. How they hire, train and supervise employees could make or break your experience. Check out our Five Tips for Choosing a Quality Home Care Provider. You might start with recommendations from trusted professionals or hire a geriatric care manager (more on that later too).

Stuck on convincing your loved one? Need advice on finding the right help in your area?

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The Biggest Mistake When Hiring a Caregiver

The biggest mistake when hiring a caregiver comes from thinking you’re done once you’ve chosen someone. The hiring process shouldn’t end with the interview. As a matter of fact, you need to spend as much time “interviewing” yourself/your loved one (i.e. knowing what you need/want) as the caregiver.

Guidance makes a good caregiver great. On the other hand, the best caregiver will often be a disappointment without the right preparation.

So how do you avoid this mistake?

1. Determine what you need/want.

In the industry, we call this the assessment. It provides a clear picture of the situation. With this, you can better find the right caregiver, determine hours needed, and more. An agency will have an assessment process to make a good match and build a care plan. You may want to seek an aging life care manager for a comprehensive assessment, especially when starting out on your caregiving journey.

2. Create a plan.

What should the caregiver be doing and how? Many clients are nervous about having to “entertain someone” in the home. And, rightly so. They shouldn’t have to. The caregiver needs a structured plan with tasks and instructions. Otherwise, you find Mom hates the caregiver because she seems to “just chat all the time”. In reality, the caregiver’s only trying to engage the client but doesn’t know she likes quiet during meals. Or, the caregiver may seem like they’re not hard working when they’re just unsure what to do next. Then, they start to do a task and the client becomes angry because she likes to do that herself (or doesn’t like it done that way).

The care plan, as it’s known, should be thorough and specific. It’s a working document based on the assessment of needs, as well as personal preferences and routines. Next, the care plan has to be communicated. The best care plan is no good if we just stuff it in a file at the office. It needs to be put into action by the caregiver. Additionally, the agency should follow up and adjust it as needs change over time.

3. Provide orientation.

Home care is personal. No one wants a stranger showing up with no introduction. Imagine how uncomfortable this would be. Good caregivers have a knack for making the best of all situations, but a warm start can smooth the way.

Also, do an introduction to the home. Does the caregiver know where you keep cleaning supplies? Has she had a tour of the home? During this initial meeting, the caregiver and supervisor can also spot things that might be needed. Perhaps there are supplies missing or bathroom safety issues to address.

When hiring a caregiver, don’t make the big mistake that can ruin the experience. With a few easy steps, you can give your caregiver the chance to do her best for you. If you’ve convinced your loved one to get help, don’t drop the ball when hiring a caregiver. We understand it’s easy to do when you’re so relieved they’ve accepted help. But, if you make these vital mistakes when hiring a caregiver all that work will be wasted.

Give us a call at 727-447-5845 for help with all your caregiving needs: assessments, finding the right caregiver, planning and more. Join our Caregivers Community on Facebook for more support and resources.