How to Find Good Caregivers: Here’s What to Look For
In our previous blog post (December 22, 2021), we wrote about assessing when it’s time for a senior adult to transition to assisted care, and how to evaluate you or your loved one’s care needs by assessing the kind of support you need i.e. Do you need home health care, such as physical therapy or medication management? Do you need non-medical, personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation, or are you looking primarily for a companion? Do you need help with housecleaning, shopping, home maintenance and running errands, or with paying bills and managing your money?
Today, we offer advice about finding the care you need.
- What’s the best way to find a qualified caregiver?
First, consider those living in your neighborhood, or among your friends, relatives, and fellow parishioners who might be candidates or know of someone who would fit the bill. “And while it’s often tempting to keep matters in the family, hiring, managing, and firing a caregiver are all business decisions, and for that reason, many family members are not ideal candidates. Hire a professional caregiver if you can afford it,” advises John Mastronardi, executive director, The Nathaniel Witherell.
- How do I assess the type of care that’s needed?
You can best evaluate your own or your loved one’s care needs by assessing the kind of support you need. It often makes sense to hire a professional to help. Here are the kinds of questions to ask as you make your decision:
- Do you need home health care, such as physical therapy or medication management? Or do you just need non-medical, personal care, such as help with bathing, dressing, toileting, and meal preparation?
- Are you looking primarily for a companion? Or do you need help with housecleaning, shopping, home maintenance and running errands, or with paying bills and managing your money?
These are important questions to ask,” says Mastronardi, “so make a list of your most pressing needs now, and what you anticipate in the coming year.”
- Where do I start?
Before you interview potential caregivers, make a list of questions to ask. This is made easier with the help of a professional or caregiver service, but there is also considerable information online that you’ll find helpful to help guide you through the process. You also can reach out to Justine Vaccaro here at the Witherell at 203-618-4257 / Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org
- What should I look for?
As you begin to interview potential caregivers, carefully consider their experience. Ideally, your goal is to hire a caregiver who has experience in those particular areas in which you need help. For example, people who have Alzheimer’s disease often need help with activities of daily living e.g. toileting and bathing. So, look for someone who has experience in working with older adults who have challenges related to their specific, individual needs.
- What do I ask?
References and referral sources are very important. Be sure that your questions are open-ended and posed in a manner that gives the person a chance to respond fully. You want to avoid the kinds of questions that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as you won’t be able to glean much information. For example, instead of asking “Are you certified?” ask instead: “Which certifications or licensure do you currently have? Or instead of asking “Do you like your job?” ask “What made you go into this line of work?” or “What do you like most about caregiving? Least?”
- How do I determine quality of care provided by individual caregivers?
If you are hiring an individual to help with at home care, monitor the quality of the services the caregivers provide. Monitor for any signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation and report suspicious activity to the caregiver service and state authorities. “I recommend that you make personal contact with the caregiver and make regular home visits with the person for whom the care is being provided. Request periodic reports from the caregiver and/or the caregiver service,” advises Mastronardi. “Hire an independent geriatric care manager to monitor if you are unable to do it yourself.”
- How do I determine the quality of care at a senior care facility?
If you are seeking an assisted living or long-term care facility, go online and do your homework. Then, set up a schedule to visit. While you are there:
- look into the rooms to see if they are clean and nicely decorated;
- get a bite to eat and visit the café during mealtime to see what and how residents are served;
- observe safety and security measures;
- ask about staff to patient ratios, and the medical staff;
- find out if the facility does criminal checks;
- check to see the weekly newsletter and activity sheets; if possible, attend activity sessions;
- look for or ask to see examples of accreditation and licensure;
- closely observe the staff at work.
You will come away with definite impressions and answers to most of your questions to aid you in your final decision-making.
- What else should I know?
Have a backup plan in case the caregiver or the agency doesn’t follow through with concerns or problems arise, or if your first choice of a facility doesn’t work out.