Ten Quick Tips For Choosing A Home Care Worker
By Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, RN, BSN, Attorney, AgingParents.com
1. Do your homework. No one should hire a worker to come into your own home or that of a loved one without researching the best way to hire. Price may be your first worry, but it is only one factor. Quality and safety are most important. Call agencies, compare methods, how you are treated, and evaluate what you get for the price. Read reviews, ask for references.
2. If you can afford an agency, it’s the best way to get a safe home care worker. Nothing is perfect, but an agency is in the business of finding good people who know how to care for aging persons at home. Check out all the local agencies. Ask for references and call all the references. Keep notes for yourself on good and bad points. This can be overwhelming at first, but it’s essential.
3. Understand the difference between an employer agency and a placement agency. The employer agency will cost a bit more, but it generally provides ongoing supervision of a potential worker for you. On the other hand, placement agencies do not provide ongoing supervision of their workers. This may be a drawback, particularly for elders with cognitive impairment.
4. If you hire on your own, and choose not to use an agency, a personal recommendation is the best way to find a worker. If you don’t have a source, ask friends, your senior and religious organizations, and relatives. Check all references well. You must spend money on a good, complete national background check for criminal history, other legal records, driving record if driving is required. Get the worker drug tested.
5. If you hire on your own, you are an employer, and the worker is your employee if the worker is going to come to the home regularly and at specific times. This is not an independent contractor, according to the IRS. Therefore, you are required to withhold taxes, and pay worker’s compensation, disability and unemployment insurance. If your homeowner’s insurance can cover worker’s compensation, good, but check with your agent to be sure your insurance company allows this coverage.
6. A written agreement between you and the agency who sends a worker, or you and the worker you hire on your own is the best way to make sure your expectations and agreements about money are met. If you don’t know how to draw up this kind of agreement, get legal advice (may be free to low income persons and elders) from an elder law attorney.
7. Don’t let a home care worker handle an elder’s money. Small amounts of cash may be the exception, but never give a worker access to your/your elder’s bank account, credit cards, or other funds. Elders who need to have workers buy groceries and other items should use gift cards or gift certificates, which will limit the misuse of money.
8. Don’t leave valuable items lying around to tempt a home care worker. Your expensive Rolex watch, for example, should be locked in a safe or drawer if you’re not using it. Small valuables are too easy to steal.
9. If you are the elder, ask a family member to look in on your worker and you, unannounced and from time to time, particularly if you hire on your own. It is a good practice to let the worker know that others are paying attention. If the worker is employed by you for your elder, be sure to monitor the worker often. Too much unsupervised time can be a problem.
10. Be clear about your expectations of any worker. Write the regular duties down and keep them in a visible place. The first day or week is critical to establish habits that will last. Speak up if you are not getting what you are paying for in a worker. You have the right to fire an unsatisfactory worker.
Information is excerpted from The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents, available
at AgingParents.com, (415) 459-0413 or (866) 962-4464. We resolve conflicts!
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