Be Careful When Hiring a Caregiver for a Senior Loved One!
Are you considering a caregiver for a senior family member?
Hiring a caregiver requires the same amount of due diligence you would devote to hiring a person to care for a young child. This is especially important if the senior has a cognitive impairment like Dementia. In California there are three types of agencies that supply in home care. Home Health Agencies are typically used when a senior needs skilled medical care such as injections, assistance with medical devices like catheters or other service provided by a licensed nurse. Hospice agencies provide end of life care and palliative care for clients with a terminal illness. Medicare may cover services from these types of agencies, but only if the client is determined to need this level of care.
Non-Medical Home Care Agencies or private caregivers provide services needed by seniors to maintain independence and live safely at home. Services include companionship, medication reminders (but not administration), light housekeeping, transportation, meal preparation and assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), such as bathing, transfers, dressing, eating and help with continence related tasks. A reputable agency will do a free assessment of the prospective client’s needs in their home setting and then allow the client and family to interview proposed caregivers prior to starting service. This ensures that a good match is made between client and caregiver, which is the key to success in caregiving. Private caregivers are available via advertising and online sources and can be a less expensive option, in some cases, then going through an agency. However hiring a person from Craig’s List or via an online source can be a risky proposition. There have been several recent news stories in our local area where a caregiver has taken advantage of disabled seniors, draining bank accounts, abusing and in one horrific case murdering the senior they were caring for. A paid caregiver may charge less than an agency but it is important to consider the following in evaluating using an agency or hiring a private caregiver:
- A reputable agency such as Seniors Helping Seniors employs their caregivers and pays all required Federal, State, Social Security and Medicare taxes on the caregiver’s wages. If you hire a person privately you are responsible for these taxes and there are serious penalties for non-payment.
- Agencies pay the costs to recruit, screen, background check, train and supervise their employees and weed out the type of person you don’t want in your senior loved one’s home. Seniors Helping Seniors trains caregivers when they start and provides ongoing continuing education. We train caregivers on home safety, caring and communicating for people with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias, food safety, hygiene and infection control, transfers and many other topics related to senior care.
- Agencies pay to answer the phone 24 hours a day, can provide coverage on holidays and have back-up caregivers if the person working for your loved one, gets sick or takes a vacation. If your private caregiver is sick or has a family emergency how will you find an immediate replacement?
- Agencies provide liability insurance and workers compensation insurance for their employees and clients and cover their employees with a bond to protect the client from theft. A private caregiver typically does not provide any insurance coverage to protect the client in case of an injury on the job, accident or theft. Insurance fraud is unfortunately an issue to be concerned with when hiring someone privately to work in your home. Check with your homeowners insurance company about your coverage for people who work for you directly.
If you do decide to go thru an agency to find a caregiver be sure you select a certified one. The number of underground agencies is increasing in California. In 2006, the state of California identified $26 million in unreported wages and in 2007 the number increased over 350% to $117 million. The state is so concerned with the issue of protecting consumers of senior home care that a law was passed that will be implemented in 2016 requiring all caregivers in California to be registered with the state. To help ensure the safety and well-being of seniors who need homecare you can look for agencies that are certified by the California Association of Health Services at Home (CAHSAH). CAHSAH certified agencies like Seniors Helping Seniors have the following verified by CAHSAH through the certification process:
- General and professional liability insurance of at least $1million/$3million
- Workers Compensation
- All caregivers are employed by the company (not contractors)
- All caregivers pass a comprehensive background clearance
- Caregivers must have a pre-employment tuberculosis screening
- The agency must have a written client agreement specifying how fees are charged.
Seniors Helping Seniors hires mature caregivers who have retired from other occupations and are looking to give back. They have a true heart for other seniors. Or mission is to provide seniors with the services that allow them to choose an independent lifestyle in their own homes and to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Do you want anything less for your loved one?