Finding a senior caregiver who is right for your elderly loved one is not easy. Prepare yourself by laying out your budget and time commitment to the hiring process before starting the search for senior care.
We’ll go over the basics of hiring in-home caregivers through a placement or home health care agency as well as hiring directly.
The information that follows is adapted from How to Hire a Caregiver for Your Senior: Your Complete Guide to Finding, Employing, and Retaining In-Home Help by GTM Payroll Services Founder and CEO Guy Maddalone. The book goes into greater detail on the hiring process as well as paying for care, retaining employees, and much more.
Finding a senior caregiver through an agency
Finding in-home caregivers through an agency will cost more, but save you time and the hassles of the hiring process. They are experienced in matching the right candidates with senior care needs of a family. Agencies may also offer services such as background screening of candidates, post-hire assistance, and back-up or replacement care.
Other services an agency may perform for you include phone screening, face-to-face interviews, personality testing, drug testing, education verification, and reference and background checking.
Agencies may also help with developing your job offer, writing a job description, creating a compensation package, training employees, and providing post-hire support.
While an agency will do a lot of the “heavy lifting” during the hiring process, you need to be specific about your senior care needs including special diets, allergies, and medications. Also talk about your elderly loved one’s personality, interests, and qualities. Be as detailed as possible about the placement including compensation, benefits, hours (including on-call hours), length of commitment, and travel requirements (if any).
This will help the agency find suitable candidates for your position. The agency will ask you a lot of questions to help guide the placement but there are questions you’ll need to ask the agency including:
- What are the agency’s placement practices? How many candidates will be presented to you? Will they replace a worker if a placement doesn’t work out?
- What kinds of employees does the agency place?
- What are the agency’s fees and what do they cover?
- What kind of post-hire support is available?
- How does the agency screen candidates?
- What training does the agency require of and/or provide to its candidates?
You’ll also want to get references from other families that hired through the agency and find out how long the agency has been in business and placing senior caregivers. Look into the agency’s licenses and accreditations.
You and the agency should also be clear on payroll taxes and IRS reporting. Will that be your responsibility or will the agency handle this for you? And does the agency handle workers’ compensation insurance if a policy is required by law? Or will proper liability coverage be your responsibility?
The type of care needed will also determine the type of agency you use. For skilled nursing care, you’ll want to hire through a licensed or certified home health care agency. If your elderly loved one doesn’t need specific medical assistance, then hiring nonmedical in-home caregiving through a placement or referral agency will suffice.
Finding a senior caregiver directly
Finding a caregiver directly won’t cost as much as hiring through an agency and you will have more control over the hiring process. However, if Medicare is being used to help pay for care, then the senior must receive services from a certified agency. This is also sometimes the case for Medicaid.
Online job sites and mobile apps have become popular sources for hiring senior care. However, you must take great care when hiring through a website. Often times, candidates have not been screened and are not supervised by an agency. While you may think you’re saving money, you may be risking a great deal in safety and security. Comprehensive background checks and verification of references are essential when finding online candidates for in-home care for your elderly loved one. This process can take more time than you have budgeted when you consider you may have a large pool of potential candidates to sift through. When hiring through an online job site, proceed with caution, don’t hire in a hurry, and do your homework as an employer.
Look for a website or app that has:
- Positive reviews from the media and customers
- Been in business for at least five years
- Good results when you perform a quick search based on ZIP code
- Refined searches to help you match specific requirements of your position
- Easy-to-use navigation
- Secure technology that protects online transactions
You’ll also want to find out if the site or app:
- Fits your budget. What are the fees and what do you get for your money?
- Provides applicant screening, background checks, and/or reference checks, and if they are free or if you need to pay for them
- Offers a guarantee if you can’t find a suitable candidate or your hire doesn’t work out
- Includes free human resources advice such as tips on working with your caregiver, employment benefits, interview questions, sample contracts, and more
- Allows you to join for a limited time, trial membership or preview a sample pool of candidates
Online classified ad sites like Craigslist can be easy to use and may cost less than a job board. However, you’ll need to be concerned about time and safety if you go in this direction. First, when using an online ad site, you need to do all the work from sifting through ads and contacting candidates to conducting background checks and vetting.
Safety is another concern with online ad sites. Anyone can pay to place an ad. There have been cases where criminals pose as caregivers. When placing an ad for a caregiver, never include personal information such as your name, address, phone number or email address.
Extreme care should be used if hiring through an online ad site much like you would use if hiring through a newspaper ad or on a bulletin board.
When hiring on your own, you can also seek recommendations or referrals from a doctor, family, friends or co-workers. Keep in mind that a senior caregiver who works well with one individual might not fit your needs as perfectly.
You could also contact local departments of health, aging, and social services; independent living centers; and senior centers.
However you go about developing a list of candidates, you’ll first want to put together a job description.
A comprehensive job description can be used to create a job advertisement, develop a work agreement, and will help you trim candidates who do not meet your requirements. It will also attract desirable applicants who will see that you are serious about hiring a senior care professional.
Start with the basics: job title, type of work (full- or part-time; live-in or live-out), job location, work hours, compensation, and benefits. Then detail the primary responsibilities and nonessential functions that will be required for the position. Also set your minimum qualifications and requirements for previous experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities. You’ll also want to include the ages and names of the seniors who need care as well as working conditions. These guidelines will describe the home where the work will be performed, any pets in the house, whether a vehicle will be provided, and other details of the job environment.
Get additional information on finding senior care from How to Hire a Caregiver for Your Senior, including tips for safely using online job sites, contacting a candidate online, conducting an online background check, and finding a reputable placement agency.