Selecting an in-home caregiver for a loved one is a major decision. If you're wondering how to hire a caregiver, it's important to weigh a variety of factors, from the caregiver's professional experience to their compatibility with your family member.
But how do you know when it's time to bring in a caregiver, and how do you go about finding and vetting the right candidates? Here are some general pointers to help you through the process.
When to Hire a Caregiver
Deciding when to hire a caregiver is a highly personal decision. If your loved one has a strong network of support from friends and family, you may be able to wait longer than someone who doesn't have a robust local support system. But if a family caregiver is overwhelmed and struggling with caregiver fatigue, hiring in-home care can be a good solution.
There are also some clear indicators that it's time to bring in a dedicated caregiver. For example, if your loved one struggles to complete basic daily activities, like moving from room to room or cooking, or if there are concerns about safety while they're home alone, it might be time to hire professional in-home care.
What to Look for in a Caregiver
You can search for in-home care providers online, through an agency or through word-of-mouth recommendations from friends. As you evaluate your options, be sure to vet candidates across multiple criteria, including the following three factors:
1. Professional Qualifications
What professional experience and training does the candidate have? Do they have a medical background or any relevant degrees or certifications? Can they provide referrals from other clients and families?
If you're working through a company or agency, ask how they evaluate candidates and what kind of background checks they perform. It's always a good idea to check their references to understand the average client experience and get a better idea of the level of care they can provide.
2. Independent Contractor vs. Company Employees
You can directly hire an individual caregiver or find one through an agency, or you can go through a company that employs the caregivers that are placed in clients' homes.
For many families, such companies offer advantages over hiring caregivers directly — for example, companies that employ caregivers should take care of payroll taxes, which means less administrative work for you.
Home care companies also may offer more oversight and thorough vetting of the providers they employ, which can be an advantage over hiring someone directly.
3. A Personality Match
An in-home caregiver will be helping your loved one in many intimate and potentially vulnerable situations, depending on their needs — think bathing, changing and physically navigating around the house. It's important to make sure you and your loved one are comfortable with your choice before moving forward.
As such, don't be afraid to ask them to meet with you and your family member at home to ensure it's a good match before you confirm your plans. You ideally want to find someone who makes your loved one feel comfortable and at ease, especially since this is a person they will interact with often and at length.
Ultimately, hiring an in-home caregiver is a process you don't want to rush. Now that you understand how to hire a caregiver, take the time to carefully vet each candidate's credentials, and ask as many questions as you like — it's okay to be selective when it comes to finding the right care for the people you care about most.