Find a Caregiver
4 Steps to Get Started
Finding the right in-home caregiver for your loved one is an important decision that can seem daunting. However, building a foundation of specific questions and requirements can help make the selection process easier and less stressful for all involved.
Start by asking yourself these four questions to help narrow the field of potential service providers in your area:
1. How much time a day or week do I need support?
Support can range from a few hours a day to 24-hour assistance. You may just need help overnight, or during hours when you must go to work or be away from the home. Going into your search with this range of hours in mind will help steer you to the right level of care for your loved one. Many agencies also offer “respite care” which allows primary caregivers just a few hours to take much-needed personal time during the day or week.
2. What type of activities do I need supported?
For example, caregivers can assist with basic activities of daily living, also known as ADLs. These include administering medication, dressing, bathing, and helping with toileting. You can also look for specific services such as help with errands (some agencies can provide limited transportation), basic companionship, and other homemaking services like meal preparation and laundry. It’s also important to note if there are special needs involved, including physical (recent surgeries, injuries, incontinence, etc.) or mental conditions (dementia, tendency to wander, etc.). Many agencies offer free in-home evaluations or first-time consultations to see how your needs align with their services.
3. Does the caregiver need medical training or certification?
Depending on your answers to question number 2, you may need a Certified Nursing Assistant or a physical therapist. Also be sure and look for third-party certifications from organizations like CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities), CCAC (Continuing Care Accreditation Commission), and JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations). These accreditations ensure that the agency has been thoroughly reviewed and serve as an additional measure of quality for your potential caregiver.
4. What payment options and guidance does the caregiver or agency support?
The world of Medicare and Medicaid can be tricky, so it’s important to understand what payment options are offered by your potential caregiver. Many agencies offer financial counseling in regards to payment options. and can help you navigate the waters of Medicare, Medicaid, or long-term care insurance. Be sure to set aside time to review your loved one’s financial status, and know your budget moving forward. You may also be paying out-of-pocket, or be “self-insured,” and should discuss the agency’s policy on this as well. Companies like Genworth Financial, Inc. compile annual “Cost of Care” surveys that can help you estimate the average hourly rate and yearly cost increases for different types of care in your state.
Next Steps – Refining the Search
Once you’ve narrowed down your options based on these guiding questions, you can then refine your search with more specific “nice-to-have” characteristics based on your loved one’s preferences and personality. For example, would your loved one respond best to the same caregiver taking care of him or her at every interaction, or is a team of caregivers acceptable? Are there any religious, cultural, or personal considerations that might play into the choice of caregiver (for example, a male being required to help move and dress a male, etc.)? Considering these additional factors can ensure that your loved one is as comfortable as possible during the transition.