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Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
What You Don’t Know Could Hurt You

By Jennifer Luna Friedrich

(Page 1 of 4)

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 insurance.

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 agency.

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 caregiver.

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