Healthcare Technology Featured Article

July 14, 2020

How to Select a Caregiver for an Elderly Relative

Caring for an elderly relative is challenging and can bring additional stress to an already complicated family situation. This is why many families choose to hire a caregiver. But the process of selecting the right person is not easy and entails a big responsibility. How to know your family member is going to be safe and well cared for? The process is especially challenging for families dealing with an elderly relative with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or any other illness that impairs communication. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider before making a final decision:

1)    Verify Identity and Check for Criminal Records. In other words, run a background check. There are several services that help you run an internet background search. One of these is Check People. They use technology to find data on people, organize it, and present it in a straightforward report.

2)    Verify Credentials and References. Credential verification is especially important if you need specialized healthcare professionals. It is also really important to ask for several references, call them, and cross-check their answers. Remember that most candidates will provide references with whom they had good interactions, so it is really important to be thorough in your questions.

3)    Prepare your interview. Make a list of general questions and add others that are important for your relative’s specific situation. Ask them to explain how they would handle specific situations, such as a medical emergency.

After the Interview

Ask for an attorney’s help to draft a professional agreement. While it’s the attorney’s job to cover all the legal aspects of the contract, it is important that you establish boundaries and rules from the beginning. Things such as the caregiver’s responsibilities should be carefully detailed (for example, are they responsible for housework? Do they need to get groceries?). One of the biggest mistakes that families make is to assume that a caregiver is to not clarify expectations from the start. Once you agree on the terms of the contract, think about establishing a probation period in which everyone can test the waters and see if they feel comfortable around each other. During the probation period:

  1. Ask for periodic reports about your relative’s overall wellbeing. Ask about their meals, daily activities, and any other thing that you think is important.

  2. Make a few “surprise” visits to check how things are unfolding.

  3. If possible, ask your relative how they feel and what they think about their new caregiver.

The Agency Alternative

If dealing with background checks, interviews, and contracts is not your cup of tea, think about hiring a caregiver through an agency.

?     Pros of hiring through an agency:

?     An easier selection process

?     Less employer’s responsibilities (usually, the caregiver’s contract is with the agency and not directly with the family)

?     Easier to find substitutes in case of caregiver’s absence

?     Cons of hiring through an agency:

?     Higher costs

?     The relationship with your relative may be less personal, and there’s a risk for more rotation

There are several agencies that advertise their services online. Make sure that the agency you choose is properly regulated. There are also services that provide useful reviews and compare different agencies so you can have a broader image of what each of them offers. Once you choose your agency, they’ll interview you to find out more about your family and what your relative needs. According to your specific situation, they will offer the first list of possible candidates for your consideration. Ask a lot of questions before making a final decision, and ask for more candidates if the ones in the first round of interviews do not entirely convince you.

In the end, the most important thing is to make sure your relative feels comfortable and well cared for. Remember that elderly people are especially vulnerable, and it is important to be around and verify that everything is working properly. Periodically check-in with their doctor and keep an eye on sudden mood changes or other health issues that can raise concern.

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