Deciding that you need the help of a professional care provider for your aging loved one is only the first step. The more important decision is choosing the caregiver.

The quality of care your loved one will receive depends on the skills and expertise of the care provider. They could either provide respite or more problems. They could give you peace or constant tension.

That’s why you need to carefully vet potential candidates. It might take more work, but it will save time—and money—later.

You have two options: directly hire a caregiver or hire through an agency.

The latter means that you become someone’s employer. You will take care of their wages, taxes, insurances, not to mention their hiring and firing. It may be cheaper, but it will be time consuming.

And that’s why most people prefer hiring care providers through a home care agency.

Agencies are the employers of the caregivers and they take care of everything—they just assign a care provider to your loved one.

The following are tips when choosing a caregiver.

1. Assess Your Loved One’s Needs

Find out what tasks your loved one needs help on. List them down.

Do they need assistance in household chores? Maybe food preparation? Can they bathe and change clothes by themselves? Are they having difficulty moving around?

Perhaps they could do most things and just needs a companion every now and then. List down your needs, so your care provider has an idea of what will be expected of them.

caregiver helping old man walk

2. Conduct Background Checks

Whether you hire through an agency—but especially if you hire directly—you must conduct a background check. Caregivers usually provide character references.

You need to find someone who is trustworthy, compassionate, and professional.

If you’re hiring through an agency, ask about their background check process. It will be better if they have criminal background check.

A care provider will be left alone with your aging loved one. They will have control of your loved one’s financial information and personal materials, not just their health.

Considering the vulnerabilities, you need someone who is a professional for this task.

3. Inquire About the Caregiver’s Competency

While moral character is necessary for the job, it is not enough.

Care providers also need certain competencies for them to perform their duties.

Check what training they attended, what functions they used to perform. Take note that your loved one’s care needs may change over time.

Some basic skills that your caregiver should have are CPR and first aid. They should also have training on body mechanics, fall prevention, and infection control.

Specialized care needs, say of a dementia patient, requires additional training.

Make sure that your caregiver’s expertise fits your needs.

4. Check Flexibility

Ask if the applicant is flexible with their schedule.

Emergencies happen. Sometimes, something will stop you on your way home and the last thing you want is for your loved one to be left alone.

Other times, you may need a care provider to look out for your loved one, as you would have an emergency out of town trip.

That’s why it’s better to hire through a caregiver agency. They have dozens or even hundreds of care providers on their pool and could provide someone at a moment’s notice.

caregiver walking with face mask

5. Keep Loved One Involved When Choosing a Caregiver

Ask your loved one’s thoughts and wishes as you choose a care provider. If possible, ask them to interview the candidate to know if the candidate will be a good fit and would make them comfortable.

Should your loved one object to a candidate, ask for their reason. And take this into consideration when looking for other candidates.

You could prevent having the wrong care provider by having your loved one involved in the process. This would be easier for them as they’ll end up with someone they like.

Trust Your Gut Instinct

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a caregiver. They will play an important part in your loved one’s aging process and having the right care provider would free you from stress.

Don’t be overwhelmed. Write down notes when you interview, compare candidates, and ask feedback from your loved one. But in the end, trust your instinct.

Does this care provider feel right? Does something about them bother you?

It is an important decision but not final. You could always start over. But take note what works and what doesn’t. This will simplify the search process should you starting hiring again.

There are thousands of other candidates waiting and the choices are endless. This could be paralyzing, but this also allows you to immediately choose a candidate that feels right. Just make sure that it was an informed decision and that you’ve done due diligence.

The end goal of the process, of course, is for your loved one to age gracefully in their own home.

Innovative Homecare Solutions, Inc., is one of the leading home care providers in Illinois. We believe that Aging can be an Awesome experience! We aim to restore dignity and promote independence in the comfort of your own home. To find out more about our services, call us at (779) 204-6600.