Whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, hiring an in-home caregiver is a big decision. It's perfectly normal to feel nervous as you begin the process. Oftentimes the need for a caregiver occurs suddenly and there is very little, if any, time for advance planning and preparation. In and of itself the sense of urgency can be stressful, not to mention all the other factors that are involved. Try your best to remain calm. Although each situation is unique, we have compiled a list of tips to help you get started.
1. Write things down. Create checklists and notes.
This process can be stressful and there are many things to consider. You are probably getting input from family, friends, professionals, and other sources. Creating notes and checklists is a great way to keep track of all the information you are gathering.
2. Identify needs and preferences.
This is absolutely critical. Many people skip this step because (1) they assume that all caregivers provide all services; (2) they underestimate the impact of “preferences”; and (3) they make the decision solely based on cost.
Not all caregivers provide all, or the same, services. It is critical that you understand and clearly communicate the services needed. For example, if the caregiver will have to aid with ambulation, mobility, or transportation, it is important to disclose that information along with the height and weight of the person who needs care. After all, a petite caregiver may not be able to lift, or support, a person who is much taller and heavier. Even attempting to do so may cause bodily harm to both the caregiver and the care recipient. As such, having a well-defined and clearly articulated list of needs is very important.
Be clear about preferences. While preferences should not be prioritized above needs, they play a key role in health and quality of life. For example, when my family was searching for a caregiver for my grandmother, we preferred someone who spoke Spanish and knew how to prepare her favourite Latin dishes. We knew it would make her happy and help to quickly establish trust and build a strong relationship with her caregiver. The language skills also came in handy when my grandmother needed assistance communicating with her medical team. Make note of the preferences and consider them in the caregiver selection process.
The last thing you want is to have “buyers’ remorse” after hiring a caregiver. Therefore, it’s best to take some time to do your due diligence before you choose a caregiver.
In the same way that not all caregivers provide the same services, not all agencies have the same practices and policies. Do your research. Compare online agencies to your local brick-and-mortar locations. Ask detailed questions about their hiring and screening processes. How much professional experience is required to become a caregiver at their company? How thorough are their background checks? What are their drug testing policies? How frequently do they conduct background checks and drug tests? How do they ensure the safety of the care recipient and the caregiver? What is their training process? Look at online reviews, references, and recommendations. Can they provide a caregiver who meets all your needs? How closely do their caregivers match your preferences? Last, but not least, compare prices.
4. Pre-hire meeting/interview.
We highly recommend a pre-hire meeting or interview. Unless you explicitly decline to meet the caregiver before they begin working with your care recipient, you should be given the opportunity for a meeting.
Prepare a list of questions for the caregiver. Carefully review all the details and clearly outline your expectations. This is also a good time to assess temperament and other characteristics that will impact the relationship with the care recipient and family. Give the caregiver an opportunity to ask questions and share information about their working style, availability, and other relevant factors.
5. Communication after hiring.
Ongoing communication is the key to a successful caregiver/care recipient relationship. There will always be an adjustment period but be sure to discuss concerns openly and honestly; that helps build trust and security. Failure to have timely conversations can lead to frustration and tension in the relationship. It’s also important to discuss what is going well. Positive feedback goes a long way towards establishing a strong relationship.
Caregivers are an amazing resource for those who need assistance caring for themselves or their loved ones. It is important to find someone who is the right fit for the care recipient as well as any family and other loved ones who are involved in caring for that person. If you need us, Carefluent can help you find exceptional caregivers who can provide care that meets your social, cultural, and linguistic needs and preferences. We would love to hear from you!