If you have a parent, spouse, sibling, adult child, or other family member who can no longer care for himself or herself adequately, you are in a tough place. Even if you want to take on the task of caregiving all by yourself, that may not be realistic – especially if you have a job and other family members who need you.
Hiring a caregiver can help solve this problem – but it can also create new ones if you don’t know how to do it. Here are eight questions to ask along the way:
- What kind of care does my loved one need? Is medical care called for (which means a caregiver who is a registered nurse, licensed vocational nurse, or certified nursing assistant)? Do you need someone to drive your loved one around, pick up groceries and prescriptions, cook, and clean? Can the caregiver lift the patient out of bed and into the bath? Will the caregiver need to live at home with the patient?
- What will Medicare and private insurance pay for? Medicare pays for nursing care only – not custodial needs, such as driving, cooking, cleaning, and companionship. Take a good look at your loved one’s private insurance as well – is long-term care insurance in effect?
- Will I hire via an agency or search on my own? Each one has advantages and disadvantages. Agencies can take care of legal and tax paperwork and send substitutes in case the main caregiver cannot be there – but you may not have your choice of caregiver, and using agencies often costs more than hiring privately. If you hire on your own, you could find exactly the right person that your loved one needs – but you will become an employer with all of the legal and financial responsibilities that brings.
- Where can I find prospective caregivers? A good place to start is with people you already know who have used caregivers. Other places include senior centers, independent living centers, houses of worship, and colleges that train caregivers and health care workers.
- What questions should I ask the prospective caregiver? First of all, ask if he or she can do, or has experience with, the specific tasks you require. Ask about experiences handling difficult situations, such as falls and ill temper. Ask for references, certifications, and identification. It may be a good investment to do a background check right before hiring. If possible, have the person to be cared for be present to get a read on how the prospective caregiver gets along with him or her. Keep in mind that starting in 2016, all caregivers working in California will need to be registered by the state.
- How do I protect my loved one, to be on the safe side? A background check and vetting of references will help. Hide things that are alluring to thieves, such as fine art, fine jewelry, guns, and collectibles. Stop by unexpectedly to see how things are going.
- How can I tell if I’ve hired the right person? Ask your loved one, if possible, how things are going. If that is not possible, keep watch over things by unexpected visits, or even camera surveillance.
- What about payment and taxes? If you choose a caregiver from an agency, the agency takes care of employment taxes. If you hire privately, you become an employer yourself. That means keeping up with minimum-wage laws, paying California state disability insurance, Social Security and Medicare taxes, unemployment insurance, and the Employment Training Tax. You will need to have the caregiver submit an I-9 Employment Eligibility Form (which determines that one has the legal right to work in the U.S.), and file a W-2 form annually. All of these forms may sound dizzying to you – but don’t even think about paying your caregiver under the table. You risk having to pay back taxes and fines.
If you feel it’s time to hire a caregiver, see what JobQuotes.com has to offer. We have listings of professionals in all kinds of service categories, and we allow our customers to rate them, too. JobQuotes can help make this tough decision a little easier.