By Jennifer Luna Friedrich
For older adults, in-home non-medical care might
be the key to independence. However, the
quality of care depends on the quality of the
caregiver. When looking for in-home care, finding
the best service can be a challenge. This
article offers suggestions on what to look for when
hiring a caregiver.
What is In-Home Care?
In-home caregivers provide assistance with
activities of daily living (ADL) such as meal
preparation, dressing, grooming, medication
monitoring, transportation and light housekeeping.
These services should not be mistaken for home
health services, which offer skilled, medical
services by licensed professionals such as nurses
and therapists. While in-home caregivers may
be trained and/ or certified, they focus mostly on
activities of daily living and are not required to
perform complex health care related tasks.
Programs such as Medicare, or Medicaid (Medi-cal)
cover Home Health Services, but do not usually cover
non-medical services. There are some long-term
care insurance policies that cover non-medical
in-home care services. Review your policy to
determine whether in-home care is covered by your
Looking For Quality In-Home Care
There are a number of ways to find in-home care.
Referrals from health care professionals and others
who have used in-home care may be the best source of
quality care providers. You can either hire
the caregiver directly as an employee, or use an
Independent or Freelance Caregivers can be
found in the Situations Wanted section of the
newspaper. Or, you can advertise for caregivers in
the Help Wanted section.
There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring
a freelance caregiver. Families often cite lower
cost as the major benefit. However, when
hiring a freelance caregiver, bear in mind costs
related to being an employer. Employer taxes,
insurance and Worker’s Compensation will need to be
paid. Tax withholdings and payroll tax reports
will have to be made. In most cases, freelance
caregivers do not qualify as “Independent
Contractors” according to tax and labor laws. Trying
to save costs while violating tax and labor laws can
put your family at great risk. Fines can be
levied and back taxes plus penalties can accrue.
Work related injuries might not be covered by your
homeowner’s insurance. Live-in caregivers who use
your home as their main residence may be considered
a tenant. This may complicate things should you need
to terminate this person’s service. You should
always consult with tax insurance and legal
professionals if you choose to hire a freelance