7 Tips on Choosing the Right Caregiver

It’s a process that understandably causes anxiety for many people: choosing the right caregiver for themselves or a loved one.

Beyond basic needs, a caregiver plays a crucial role in a person’s overall quality of life. Caregivers help people remain social, engaged in activities they enjoy and stay optimistic.

So, how do you find a caregiver who is not only experienced and ethical, but is also the right personality fit? Follow these tips to help you confidently make a decision.

  1. Make a comprehensive list of all your home care needs.

    It’s best to begin by understanding why exactly you or your loved one needs a caregiver and at what level of care. For example, do you need medical-related help, such as administering medications on time and making sure there are no slips and falls? Or do you need help with daily household functions like cleaning, cooking and transportation to the doctor and other appointments? Knowing these details ahead of time will greatly aid in choosing the right caregiver.

  2. Do the math on your finances.

    Hiring a caregiver can be expensive. Most people cannot afford to employ full-time, round-the-clock care. That is why it’s important to sit down with the decision-makers in your family and do the math on your finances to figure out how much you can realistically afford before starting on the search for a caregiver.

  3. Ask trusted people for recommendations.

    After you’ve nailed down the details of your needs and your budget, ask people you trust for caregiver recommendations. Extended family, friends and groups at your place of worship, activity center or social club are great places to get advice from people who have gone through the same thing. Make sure that you read online reviews and follow up thoroughly on any information you’re given.

  4. Decide on either an agency or an individual.

    You have the choice of hiring a caregiver through an agency or on your own. If you choose to go with an agency, you’ll likely pay more, but agencies are typically easier to screen and research. If you hire a caregiver on your own, you will need to carefully prepare a job description. When doing this, be explicit about your or your loved one’s personal needs. This gives the prospective caregiver a clear idea of what to expect and how to provide the best care.

  5. Ask the hard questions.

    When interviewing a potential caregiver, be polite but do not be afraid to ask hard questions. For instance, you’ll want to know not only about their professional experience and work history, but also their personal history, comfort level in working with specific needs, strengths and weaknesses, and personality traits. If possible, the person who will receive care should sit in on the interviews so they can be part of the decision-making process – after all, this will be their relationship.

  6. Do background checks.

    You have a right to full transparency about who is providing your caregiving services. If you’re using an agency, ask for the details about their background check process. If you are hiring a caregiver on your own, you will need to conduct your own background check to verify credentials, residency status and a clean criminal record. Do keep in mind that in California, home-based caregivers don’t need to be professionally licensed.

  7. In the end, go with your gut.

    Ultimately, there is no guarantee that you will find the perfect caregiver even if you do your due diligence with all of the above steps. But this is where trusting your gut comes into play. If you’ve found someone with strong experience, qualifications and references that all seem to mesh well with your or your loved one’s needs and personality, then hire them. You are always free to make a change if it ends up not feeling like the right fit.

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