Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hiring a Home Companion or Health Care Worker for the Elderly

Assuming the responsibility for hiring a Home Care worker for yourself, for parents, for a friend, or any family member is serious business. Even if the need is only temporary, occasional or part-time, the person you hire will have access to everything in your loved one’s home. The potential for elder abuse is especially high if your loved one is experiencing serious memory-loss issues.

Many people prefer to begin their search using a personal reference from a friend, an associate where they work, a fellow member of a club, or from their place of worship. One, or all, of these contacts may lead you to the perfect candidate. But it will require doing personal interviews, double-checking references, and will entail time and effort that you may not have to spare.

Using a professional agency to screen possible employees may be the most efficient and safest way to get started. But, realize that there is no guarantee that the candidate has not misrepresented themselves to the agency or that the agency has done their job by running a thorough check on the candidates personal referrals, professional references or the possibility of a criminal record.

Make sure that the agency you choose has the required:

Federal and State Licensing required of the Agency

Insurance and Bonding for all Companions and Caretakers

Adequate training of all Companions and Caretakers

Another option is going to the classified ads of your (or your loved one’s) local newspaper. The risk is higher when you consider this source because anyone who can pay the price of an ad can advertise in the classifieds. Extra diligence will be required to make all of the reference, credit, and criminal checks yourself. The up-side of this method is twofold. You know that the checks have been run because you did them. And, you avoid the middle-man costs of the agencies which may mean a significant savings.

It’s very important before you begin this process to determine what level of care is needed. Do this by making a list of all the services you expect to be performed by the Companion or Health Care Worker. For instance, if you need a

Home Companion:What level of education do you require?

Will they need to provide their own transportation?

Do they need a driver’s license and/or adequate auto insurance?

What hours do you need them to work?

Do you want them to live-in the residence or out?

Will household chores such as grocery shopping, planning meals and cooking, laundry, light cleaning, etc. be required?

Are they trained and able to meet special nutrimental needs?

Are they capable of doing light to medium lifting?

Can they help to dress and groom your loved one?

Can they aid in maintaining personal correspondence?

Can they be responsible for paying bills?

Are they willing to provide your loved one with a regular regime of physical exercise?

If a Health Care Worker is needed, your loved one’s doctor or clinic will be your best source and absolutely necessary to help you determine what services will be required.

A Certified Nursing Assistant or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) may be sufficient for giving bathes, injections, monitoring blood pressure, sugar levels, treating wounds, etc.

If higher skilled nursing is required, a Registered Nurse (RN) may be necessary to administer medications, provide assessments and evaluations, or whatever services outlined by their physician and State and Federal regulations.

A Licensed Physical Therapist may be needed to develop a strength training and home exercise program for serious rehabilitation.

In addition to all of your requirements, the successful candidate should be a good match on a personal level to your loved one.

Do they seem quiet or chatty? Which personality would your loved one prefer?

Do they appear clean and well-groomed.

Would their native language or accent make it difficult for your loved one to communicate with them?

Would they agree to a specific “trial period” of employment?

Would they object to video cameras in the home to give you the peace of mind that your loved one is receiving the high level of care they deserve?

Once you have successfully completed the quest of finding a suitable a Home Companion or Health Care Worker and you feel that you can trust them to perform the needed services for your loved one, don’t lose them! In order to retain this valued worker, we suggest that (after the trial period) you provide them with above-average compensation and benefits. Already there is a great demand for these types of health care providers and this demand can only increase as the bulk of our elderly population moves toward their retirement years and beyond.