What to Look for in a Home Health Care Aide

The signs are there: your senior loved one is having difficulty with everyday tasks. Meals are missed, the house isn’t clean, medicines are forgotten, and they may even be staying in bed for most of the day.

If this is the situation with your senior, hiring a home health care aide might be the right decision. In addition to helping the senior carry out simple daily tasks, home aides provide companionship and support that the senior need to stay in their home. Just as well, the home aide will give you the peace of mind and security that your loved one is receiving the necessary care.

It’s a big decision and here are some of the things you must consider when taking this step:

Decide what type of home care is required.

Many seniors don’t need much more than a friendly companion and someone to help with everyday activities including meals, household chores, bathing, and shopping. Other seniors require skilled aides that can care for injuries, check vital signs, and administer medications. While there is certainly some overlap, it is important that you carefully assess what duties the aide must carry out.

Hire an independent or work with an agency

Word of mouth and personal referrals may sound like they might be the best way to find an aide, but before you go this route make certain that you have the appropriate insurance that will cover you from any liability should the aide get injured on the job. And remember that even though hiring through an agency might seem more costly, once you take into account the worker’s liability insurance and FICA taxes there is not much of a difference. Additionally, agency caregivers usually receive training and are bonded and insured both of which are important considerations when hiring a caregiver. Independents may not have either.

Screen carefully

The caregiver will be spending extensive time with your senior and will soon become a key person in their life. It’s an important decision that affects your senior’s personal space and life, so screen carefully. Ask questions that provide insight into the caregiver’s interests, some of which might even be shared by the senior. (It’s wonderful and much more enjoyable for both caregiver and senior if they happen to enjoy doing the same things.)

Set expectations

Don’t allow guesswork to enter into the equation. Set clear and achievable expectations so that the caregiver understands what they have to do. For instance, if you don’t want your senior to sit and watch television for hours at a time, tell the caregiver and provide options so that they can follow your instructions. Want them to bring their own food from home rather than eat what is in your senior’s home? Tell them. Mindreading should not have to be part of the job. The clearer your instructions and expectations, the more you should be satisfied with the caregiving arrangement.

It’s important to keep in mind that even though this is a “business” relationship, your senior’s caregiver will play an important role in their life. You should look for someone you can trust, who shares your views on how to care for your senior, and who is comfortable communicating with you.

It’s also a very personal decision and the caregiver that might have been perfect for your friend might not be to your liking. Trust your instincts, do you homework, and then take action. The signs that indicate your senior needs help are not going to hide.