10 Tips for Hiring and Employing a Caregiver


Pioneer Founding member
Deborah Leader, RN, About.com Guide

Hiring a caregiver can be a difficult step for some families to take. But sometimes, being able to personally provide full-time care for a loved one who has COPD, or any other chronic disease, is virtually impossible. Perhaps you have a full-time job and are responsible for a mortgage payment, a spouse and five children. Or, maybe you live far away from your loved one, and are forced to provide care at a distance. Whatever your reasons for hiring a caregiver, you probably want to provide your loved one with the best possible care that your money can buy.
Here are 10 tips to guide you through the caregiver hiring and employing process:

1. Before hiring a caregiver, discuss it with your loved one. This will provide them with a sense of empowerment so they feel that they have a sense of control over their own lives.

2. When calling an agency, be sure to ask the following questions:

What type of background screening is done on your employees?
How long has the candidate you're suggesting worked for the service?
What types of general and specialized training does the employee have?
Is the employee certified in basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? (Do not hire a caregiver who is not able to provide you with a current CPR certification card.)
Is the employee bonded?
What are the fees for service and what do they cover?
Is there a minimum and maximum limit to the hours of service?
Are there limitations as to what the caregiver can and cannot do?
Whom do you call if the worker does not show up at the scheduled time?
If the worker cannot make it on a day he or she is needed, is there someone else who can cover?
3. Be sure to interview each candidate. If possible, have your loved one and other family members sit in on the interview.

4. During the interview, discuss the following:

The family member's needs and limitations
The worker's experience in caregiving, including expectations (yours and theirs) of the position, if offered
The names, addresses and phone numbers of three references (be sure to contact each of them)
The salary being offered, as well as when and how often payments will occur
Your expectations as far as transportation of the patient to/from appointments, or the running of errands during the workday (make sure the candidate has a driver's license and car insurance)
Vacations, holidays, absences and tardiness. Emphasize that it is especially important to contact you as soon as possible in the event of an unplanned absence or if they are going to be late. Be sure to have a list of alternative numbers to call in the case of emergencies.
5. Regardless of how honest you may think the caregiver is, be sure to lock up all valuables and remove personal papers, including mail, from common areas. It is also a good idea to check your phone bill each month for unauthorized calls.

6. If possible, pop in on the healthcare worker unannounced during the day to check to see that things are running smoothly. If this is inconvenient, ask a friend or family member to do it for you.

7. Encourage your loved one to be candid with you about how the caregiver is working out. If there are problems, be sure to address them immediately.

8. If your loved one is immobile, stress the importance of turning them every two hours to avoid skin breakdown. While caregivers may bear in mind this knowledge, they sometimes need to be reminded. Placing a hand-written turning schedule on the wall, in a visible area, may help them remember. Be sure to check the condition of your loved one's skin on a daily basis, especially on the back and buttocks, to ensure that the turning schedule is being adhered to.

9. If the job requires the caregiver to take vital signs, be sure to write down parameters as to when you would like to be notified. For example, if the temperature if greater than 101 degrees, or the systolic blood pressure is below 90 or greater than 160.

10. Clearly post emergency numbers for the healthcare worker and your loved one to see. Include your local police and fire departments and poison control centers. Also include your work and cell phone numbers and the phone numbers of other family members or friends, in case you can't be reached.

You may have to go through several caregivers before you finally find the right fit. Thoroughly evaluating each candidate before you hire them, can save you hours of time, expense and worry.