The aging of America and seniors’ overwhelmingly desire to stay in their own homes has created a high demand for home care services. This has created a lot of options for consumers to choose from and many get confused on the best way to secure a trusted caregiver for themselves or a loved one.
Finding the Right Home Care Services
The first step is to assess the person’s needs. Make a realistic list of home and personal care tasks the person needs help with, such as bathing and dressing. Maybe they simply need help with daily chores and getting rides to appointments and shopping. Once you understand exactly what’s needed, finding the right caregiver becomes much easier.
The second step is to find the right provider who can meet you or your loved one needs. But how do you find the right home care worker? People have two main options when looking for a qualified caregiver – hiring someone directly or going through an agency. At first glance, it might appear that hiring privately is less expensive. You might find someone from a classified ad, a notice in the local senior center, a nurse registry, an informal employment agency, or word of mouth. But hiring someone directly comes with its own set of responsibilities and risks:
- You are responsible for withholding and reporting income taxes and paying Social Security taxes. This can be very complicated and could also leave you open to having to pay back taxes and penalties. If you’re not a payroll expert, this task can quickly become burdensome.
- If the caregiver is injured while working, you may end up paying their medical bills. The caregiver can file a workman’s compensation claim or even file a lawsuit against you or your family.
- It is up to you to check certificates, licenses, references and criminal background – and to protect against elder abuse and financial exploitation, which is more common if the care receiver’s family doesn’t live nearby and relies almost exclusively on the caregiver to provide assistance.
- You will be responsible for determining whether the care provider knows how to safely care for your loved one. For example, if your family member needs to be transferred from a wheelchair, you need to be sure that the care provider knows how to do this safely.
- If your caregiver doesn’t show up and suddenly quits, you’re left with trying to find a replacement. If there are problems, you are on your own in working things out as an employer. This includes discipline and termination.
The Agency Advantage
Working with a trusted agency that screens and trains applicants has numerous advantages.
No Employer Responsibilities
You don’t have to worry about tax withholding or reporting, or paying premiums for workers compensation, unemployment or liability insurance. If a caregiver calls in sick or quits, the agency provides a backup, who has the same training and experience.
Safety and security
When you go through an agency, you’ll get a caregiver who has gone through a criminal background check and has been thoroughly screened by the agency to ensure they are capable of doing the job you’ve hired them to do.
Ongoing training and supervision
Agency employees are supervised, evaluated and monitored to ensure they are doing a good job and meeting the needs of their clients. They also receive ongoing training, so they are constantly aware of new resources, trends and ideas that make them better caregivers.