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NEW SERIES! Aging In Place – Finding the Right Nursing Care at Home

Allowing seniors to age in place safely is a core part of our mission at Arcadia New England. However, when a senior has undergone a medical procedure or is having health issues, staying at home becomes far more difficult. One way to ensure your loved one can remain in the comfort of their own home, and have their healthcare needs met, is to hire nursing care to come into the home. This added support will unburden caregivers considerably. With professional care in the home, you ensure the senior will be on the road to recovery with all their medical needs met.

When hiring a caregiver for in-home help for your older adult, finding the right match can be tricky. You need someone with the right set of professional skills and training, and you also need someone who your senior will get along with. Here are our top tips:

Be clear about what you need for care at home

Caregiver hiring is easier said than done, especially if you’ve never hired anyone before. When you add providing medical and healthcare to the mix, you really need to be making informed decisions. Write out clearly what type of nursing care you need. Some types of assistance include: administering medications and changing bandage dressings, bathing and dressing, physical and occupational assistance as part of recovery and rehabilitation activities. Mentally walk through a full day of care in your mind, even through a week of care, hour by hour, to refresh your mind with all the necessary tasks. Know the hours of individual days that you need assistance, as some caregivers are flexible, while others have set availability that may or may not work for you.

Hiring Independently versus Working with an Agency

There is a big difference between going it on your own and hiring in-house help independently versus working with an agency. Not to say that you can’t hire someone on your own, but be conscious that you are taking on a lot of responsibility and risks on your own as well. You may find greater flexibility about hours, scheduling, and pay rates when you go the independent route. You also assume all the risks of hiring a trustworthy person and taking care of payroll taxes, etc.

If you’re hiring independently rather than using an agency with non-negotiable rates, get familiar with the going rates of pay for comparable care in your area. Do a search of postings for caregiver jobs that are similar to yours. You may want to consider being flexible about pay so you have a chance to interview the best candidates. In your job posting advertisement, state that the “hourly rate is flexible based on experience”. This often helps get responses from candidates with more experience – and that extra experience may be well worth a slightly higher rate. If you offer to pay a lot less than the average rate, the job applicants that respond are not as likely to have the care skills your older adult needs.

Be sure you pay whomever you hire legally. You could try to save money by paying your caregiver cash “under the table”, skipping the required payroll filings and taxes.

However, if you or your caregiver gets audited by the IRS, it could mean big trouble that far outweighs any potential savings. You need to plan to prepare (or have an accountant do it) the required W-2s and tax forms for paying in-home caregivers.

Follow an Interview Process with ALL Applicants

Interviewing a potential caregiver just once doesn’t give you enough information to make a good decision. The Interview Process is just that – a process.

To get a more complete picture of individuals you are consider hiring to care for your older adult during their medial recovery, consider having 3 interviews:

  • A brief screening interview via phone to make sure they meet basic requirements
  • An in-person interview to meet candidates who pass the phone screen
  • An in-person interview where the top 1 or 2 candidates meet your older adult so you can check for a “fit test” of personalities, comfort with one another, and how your finalist will communicate with the senior.

Before you talk with any interested applicants, prepare your interview questions. Be sure your questions are “open ended” – requiring the individual to elaborate beyond simple “yes” or “no” answers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their past experience, and their reasons for changing jobs in the past. Ask them specific questions about situations they are likely to experience with your senior. Ask them to describe how they would handle the situation. Ask not only about how they would complete certain care tasks, but also how they would handle communication challenges, for example if your senior refuses to bath or take their medication.

Always, always, ALWAYS check references! No matter how much you “love” a candidate and  no matter how perfect they seem, take the time to call their references. First, ask how they know the person and be sure the description matches what your candidate gave you as the relationship to their references (make sure you aren’t talking to someone’s sister). Ask how the person performed on the job, if they would hire that person again, and if they’d recommend the candidate for your job.

When you have identified your finalists, complete a formal background check. Since older adults are at greater risk for fraud or abuse, it’s wise to check for a criminal record in all the states where the person has lived or been employed.

Your bottom line is to get to the right person who will be responsible, trustworthy, and compassionate with your older adult. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the tough questions, or to take the time to call references. It’s a standard best practice in hiring in-home care providers to conduct a thorough and careful background check on experience, training, and personal/criminal history.

Have a Trial Period & Employment Contract

An interview is one thing, but real-life is something else entirely. After choosing a great caregiver candidate, it’s a good idea to arrange a trial period before making the job permanent. This gives you a chance to observe how well they get along with your older adult and how they handle the caregiving tasks. It also gives the caregiver a chance to make sure the job meets their expectations.

Finding the Right Nursing Care at Home

Creating an employment contract is an important part of hiring a caregiver for in-home help. Your employment contract doesn’t have to be complicated. The purpose of the document is to clearly lay out the details you’ve discussed. Be sure to include:

  • Detailed job description of what is expected
  • Hours/Schedule
  • Pay Rate, Pay Period, How Pay will be Distributed
  • Anything else you’ve agreed upon during the interview process that you want to be clear on.

Both you and the caregiver sign the document to show that the job expectations are clear and that you both agree to the terms. If everything goes smoothly, terrific! You’ve handled the search process like a pro! If things go awry, you’ve documented expectations and have something to refer to if the need arises.

How Arcadia New England Can Help

At Arcadia New England, we take all the stress and work out of finding an in-home caregiver! Our highly-skilled, trained, and carefully screened caregivers are ready to begin assisting with care. We save you all the headaches of hiring someone yourself, and we take on all the responsibilities. With just a phone call, we can begin to find the right team member to work with your senior.

We believe our caregivers are the best in the business because we take the time to carefully screen and interview our team members, ensuring they have both the professional expertise necessary, as well as loving hearts and a dedication to helping others. We provide extensive training as well as ongoing education to all our caregivers, so you can rest assured you have a highly qualified individual caring for your loved one, providing care at home. The caregiver and client relationship is so important to both recovery and ongoing feelings of security and comfort, and that is why we carefully match our caregivers with each client and their unique set of needs. We are here to provide assistance with daily needs such as meals, bathing and dressing to more extensive needs such as after surgery care, dementia care and end of life comfort.

Our In-Home Healthcare Services include:

  • Home Care Assistance
  • After Surgery Care
  • Ongoing Medical Care
  • Personal Care
  • 24-Hour, Live-In Care
  • Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care
  • End of Life Comfort Care
  • Respite Care
  • Elderly Care

We want our seniors to continue to live independently as long as possible, while getting the help they need to be healthy, safe and feel secure. Call Us today so we can schedule a time to meet with you and your loved one!

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