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Hiring Agency Caregivers: What to Ask

May 05, 2015, 01:34 AM

Placing your elderly or ill parent in the care of a stranger can be a frightening thought. But when it becomes necessary to provide professional home care for the elderly, the process of hiring a trusted caregiver can be made easier if you educate yourself and ask the right questions.

Agency Vs. Independent Caregivers

Depending on which route you take to hire a caregiver, your responsibilities and the questions you’ll need to ask will vary. Some families choose to hire private nurses and aides independent of agencies and organizations because they wish to have more control over the process, as well as a sense of consistency in their parent’s care. For those who have the time and the resources to employ an independent contractor, there are considerations beyond the caregiver’s talent and skills including federal and state taxes, bond insurance (insurance against theft), licensing, and having a “relief” caregiver to allow for sick, personal, and vacation days. Home care agencies typically handle these issues and send you the best fit candidates based on your requirements.

What to Look for in an Agency Home Care Aide

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by alancleaver via flickr

While simpler than hiring independently, employing an agency caregiver requires its own due diligence. Some important considerations to have in mind when hiring an agency include:

Reputation & References

References from friends and family, as well as testimonials and reviews from others who have used the service, are the best way to start your search for the perfect agency caregiver. Once you settle on a few agencies to further investigate, be sure the one you choose has an excellent reputation, not just in quality of caregivers, but in their dealings with family members as well. Whether or not you personally interview prospective agency caregivers, be sure to ask for and speak with references, both personal and professional.

Recruiting & Hiring Practices

Another way to evaluate the agency is to learn more about their own recruiting and hiring practices. You can find out what type of caregivers they hire based on the wording and requirements in their job descriptions, where they place ads, which events they attend to recruit potential hires, and the turnover rate of caregivers. A high turnover rate can indicate poor management or working conditions, which mean unhappy employees.

Background Checks & Screening – One of the major benefits of hiring a caregiver through an agency is that they shoulder the responsibility for performing background checks on candidates. Be sure the agency you select performs thorough background reviews for criminal activity and performs continuous drug screening of caregivers.

Training & Certification – Ensure that your caregiver is as qualified as s/he claims by choosing an agency that performs certificate and credential validation. It’s also important that your caregiver is properly trained. Like the rest of the healthcare industry, continuous learning and training is important to performing the job successfully. Make sure your agency provides continuing education and training services for their caregivers to ensure the ones caring for your loved one are well-informed. If you require care for a loved one with certain types of cognitive or memory disease, it is vital to their safety and wellbeing to have a caregiver who is trained properly. Find an agency with a dedicated pool of candidates who are properly trained and experienced in care giving for seniors with dementia and other memory-affecting diseases.

You have the right and should have the option to ask whatever questions you may have when it comes to hiring a caregiver. Choosing an agency caregiver who has already been thoroughly vetted will allow you to focus on the character and personality traits that are important to you, and to choose a caregiver who will best fit your elderly parent’s needs.

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