Choosing an In-Home Caregiver
Posted by: Todd
Crystal Alexander, Human Resources Director for Absolute Home Care in Idaho Falls, Idaho shares some helpful information to help family members choose a caregiver for their loved one. Her advice applies to both independent caregivers and caregivers hired though a home care agency.
Caregivers with Integrity
When choosing a caregiver it is important to look for someone you really feel is trustworthy; someone who will tell you when they make a mistake or when anything goes wrong. Ask the caregiver directly how they will handle specific scenarios when things do go awry. Finally, you want someone you can trust to tell you what is really going on with your loved one in your absence.
Genuine Concern for your Loved One
Sincerely caring about the comfort and well being of others is a pre-requisite to ensuring the caregiver will be a good match for your loved one. Look for a caregiver who shows genuine interest and concern, by both asking questions about the your loved one and listening to the information you provide.
Perceptive and Intuitive, with Appropriate Boundaries
Just because you are not hiring a nurse does not mean your caregiver won’t need to detect subtle changes in your loved one’s condition. A quality caregiver will be attentive to these changes and will seek to have them addressed. At the same time they also need to know when to show restraint, for example to redirect a senior who is becoming anxious or preoccupied towards a more positive activity.
Health and Safety
Your caregiver should be current in their CPR certification. They should understand basic hygiene and infection control procedures. Ask what types of continuing education activities the caregiver engages in. Is the caregiver able to provide you with a current negative Tuberculosis screen, or doctor’s statement that they are currently clear of this disease?
Does/Is the caregiver:
- Dress neatly and appropriately?
- Wear sensible footwear?
- Keep their fingernails trimmed short? (to avoid nicking a clients sensitive skin).
- Free of strong perfumes?
- Ask about safety equipment and protocol in the home?
- Inquire about where the emergency phone numbers are kept?
A quality provider is first and foremost concerned with their client’s safety, and will ask questions to ensure they have necessary information to keep their client safe.
Sense of Humor and Positive Outlook
A caregiver who has a sense of humor and positive outlook on life is going to be uplifting to be around, and better able to handle stress. Caregivers develop close relationships with clients, so a caregiver who focusses on the positive will have a positive influence on your loved one’s well being. Look for a candidate who does not talk about their personal problems.
Caregiver Support Structure and Self-Care
Caregiving can be stressful. It is important that your caregiver have a support system of his or her own. Things to know in advance are whether the caregiver has supportive ties to the community, be it family, friends, church, school, or other involvement. You also want to look for indications that your caregiver takes good care of their personal well being. Are they well groomed? Organized? Do they seem stressed, late, or hurried?
A caregiver who is not meeting their own needs is going to be hard pressed to provide quality care to others.
Caregiver Background Screen
Your caregiver should be able to provide you with an employment history which includes current contact information for current and past employers, and you should contact each and every one. Gaps in employment should have a logical explanation.
Sometimes an employer is precluded from giving you anything more than a confirmation of dates worked, however if you explain to the employer that the applicant will be working in the home with an elderly or disabled client and you need to know if they would be considered safe you will get them to open up a bit and give you more information.
Obtaining a thorough FBI background check can provide you with critical information about a caregiver. Supplement this with a search of your state’s court repository as well as a department of motor vehicles driving record. Don’t forget to include other states the caregiver has resided in.
Remember, criminal records only reflect activity that was detected by law enforcement, so trust your instincts even in the absence of a criminal history!
Just as important as the contents of a caregivers criminal history is their truthful disclosure of anything you might find. Try to get ahold of the criminal record clearance from your local department of health and welfare; compare this to their job application. Check to see if any crimes are listed on the clearance letter and whether the caregiver disclosed those crimes at the time of their application for fingerprinting.
Be sensitive to the embarrassing nature of past criminal conduct, and allow the caregiver the opportunity to disclose any such information by asking directly about any history, what they learned from it, and how they changed as a result. Being able to learn from past mistakes is a valuable trait.
Hiring a caregiver is not the time to be shy or polite. Be prepared to ask the difficult questions. You have a right to know the answers!
March 25th, 2010 | Posted by: Todd
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