Tracy Sanders, RN, MN, CNS
Hiring a Private Caregiver.
Most family caregivers reach a point when they realize they need help at home. Signs include recognizing that your loved one requires constant supervision and/or assistance with everyday activities, such as bathing and dressing. Caregivers also find that certain housekeeping routines and regular errands are accomplished with great difficulty or are left undone.
Assess Your Needs. It is best to start by assessing both your needs as a caregiver and the needs of the person requiring the care. There are a variety of checklists to help you evaluate what types of help are needed. In general, consider the following areas: Personal Care: bathing, eating, dressing, toileting. Household Care: cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping. Health Care: medication management, physician's appointments, physical therapy. Emotional Care: companionship, meaningful activities, conversation. It is also important to evaluate the values and preferences of the person receiving care. He or she may be more comfortable with a home care worker who shares his or her cultural background and/or language. The care recipient may also have a preference between male and female caregivers, particularly if the worker will be helping with personal care. AARP is an excellent resource as well. You can visit one of the VI AARP offices or visit them on the internet at www.AARP.org.
Important Caregiving Traits. Commonly sought characteristics should include trustworthiness, reliability, compassion, competence, and experience with a proven track record. The individual should find enjoyment in caregiving and possess a positive attitude. If the individual states she/he is a licensed nurse (RN: Registered Nurse, LPN: Licensed Practical Nurse, CNA: Certified Nursing Assistant) obtain a copy of their license and make sure it is current and not expired. If you have any questions, the VI Board of Nurse Licensure is available to verify licenses for you.
Interviewing. Develop a detailed job assignment that you can share with applicants that includes the duties and tasks you will require, the hours and days of the job, and personal preferences with regard to driving and other transportation options. Conduct the initial interview by phone. Ask about work experience, hours of availability, driving experience and special training with a condition such as Alzheimer's disease. Once you have an initial comfort level with the person, follow up with an interview in person.
Get References and Verify. Ask the individual to bring a resume or job history as well as names and telephone numbers for at least two references. The references should be a person who can speak specifically about the individual’s ability to be a caregiver. If possible, make sure your loved one participates in the interview or at least has the opportunity to meet anyone you would like to hire. Make sure to get the person's name, address, telephone number and Social Security number. Don't be afraid to ask for proof of identity, ideally a Social Security card. If not available, ask to see a driver's license or other photo ID. You can also ask if she has ever been in trouble with the law. Consider paying for a criminal background check. The VIPD can perform a Police Check as well.
Check Often. Plan to be at your loved one's house for the first few days to familiarize the new caregiver with the routine. Periodically, you should drop by unannounced to check on how things are going. Make sure you completely satisfied with what you see, what you hear and what you feel. The time and attention you give to hiring and maintaining a caregiver in your home is one of the most important responsibilities families face today. Remember, Continuum Care, Inc. is here to help you as well.