When someone you care about falls ill and ends up bedbound, you might naturally want to handle all their care yourself. In some cases, you can, and that’s great. Occasionally, however, it might not be possible.
Maybe you work full-time, and they need care while you’re at the office. Maybe they have specific, unique medical needs that you’re ill-equipped to manage. Or maybe you are yourself struggling, and simply don’t have the energy necessary to be their full-time caretaker.
You don’t need to feel guilty about it, nor should you stress. There are plenty of at-home caregivers that can help lighten your workload, keeping your loved one happy and healthy when you’re busy or out of the house.
We’re going to go over how you can find the best at-home caregiver possible.
Consider What Type of In-Home Care You or your Loved One Needs
As noted by the American Association of Retired Persons, there are several different types of in-home caregivers, each with their own specialty.
- Personal care aides are simple helpers and companions. They generally aren’t licensed. Although some states do have training requirements, most personal care aides don’t go through any sort of formal program. They have varying levels of experience in their field and generally help with tasks like bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meals, and exercise.
- Home health aides have a minimum of 75 hours of training, with additional certification requirements depending on where you live. In addition to performing all the duties of a personal care aide, they also monitor the patient’s vital signs and overall physical health.
- Licensed nursing assistants and certified nursing assistants are trained to monitor, observe, and care for patients with serious medical conditions. They’re able to set up medical equipment, conduct a range of motion exercises, and generally perform all the same tasks as a registered nurse would. They also help with personal care such as bathing, bathroom assistance, feeding, and domestic chores.
- Skilled nursing providers are a level up from home health aides and licensed nursing assistants. They are trained to administer medication, change and dress wounds, and provide care for conditions such as diabetes. The main difference between skilled nursing providers and licensed assistants is that skilled nursing providers are often trained in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and speech therapy. They’re also covered part-time by medicare.
- Registered nurses are exactly what they sound like. They are formally-trained and have passed a national license exam. They provide the same sort of services a nurse would in a hospital, including operating medical equipment and administering medication.
Consult with your care provider for advice on which of these caregivers is your best option.
Ways to Find an At-Home Caregiver
Freelance Job Boards
It might be tempting to try to find your home care provider on a freelance job board.
However, if you take this route, there’s no guarantee you’ll find someone with the necessary qualifications. Perhaps more importantly, you want to hire someone who’s trustworthy and compassionate — someone you know will give your loved one the best care possible.
An At-Home Care Agency
Generally, the best way to do this is to go through an established agency. That way, you can be certain that whoever you hire will have not only undergone a thorough background check but that they also have the necessary qualifications to effectively care for your loved one.
The trade-off, of course, is that agencies tend to be a lot more expensive, so if money is an object, that might not be an option.
Home Health Care Registries
You might alternatively opt to perform the search yourself via a home health care registry. They’ll provide you with a list of candidates based on your criteria, and you can sift through them until you find one that you feel fits your needs. This tends to be a bit more time-consuming, but it’s also cheaper while allowing you a lot more flexibility and control.
The big risk of doing things yourself is that while agencies ensure their staff, there’s no guarantee that the health aide you hire will have insurance. This means that you could be liable if they injure themselves while providing care to your loved one. You’re also responsible for all the paperwork, and doing a background check.
Personal referrals are another option, both through friends and colleagues and social media. Whatever method you use, it’s important that you’re thorough before committing to working with someone.
This goes beyond a simple criminal background check. Look them up on Google and Facebook. See if you can track down any information about them or reviews that include their name. The key here is first to make sure that they are who they say they are, and further to see if they’ve had any issues with the mistreatment of patients in the past.
Finally, once you’ve settled on an at-home caregiver, meet up with them, and spend some time with them before you commit to hiring them. You need to make sure that there’s a personality fit, both with you and with your loved one. Even a highly-skilled provider may be a bad fit for you if they don’t get along with anyone.
Care and Caution When Finding an In-Home Caregiver
Hiring an at-home caregiver can be a difficult and involved process. But you need to put the work in to ensure your loved one receives the best care possible.
Otherwise, they may end up worse off than before.