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Hiring an In-Home Caregiver
What You Donít Know Could Hurt You

By Jennifer Luna Friedrich

(Page 2 of 4)

Another very important aspect of hiring a freelance caregiver is safety. Has this person been convicted of a crime? What is their work history? Be sure to have the applicant list their experience and training. Check their references. Employee application forms are available at office supply stores, and can be used for each potential employee. It is also important to verify that this person can legally work in the United States. A form called the I-9 should be kept on file for the employee. Fines ranging from $250 to $2,000 can be imposed on those who hire illegal immigrants. Also, be sure to have a written agreement with the caregiver to avoid potential wage and labor disputes.

For peace of mind, you may want to use agencies or registries that offer pre-screened caregivers for you to hire directly. Using a screening service does not relieve you of your responsibilitie s as an employer if you hire the caregiver directly. Agencies and companies who do background checks can be found in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet.

Another option for finding caregivers is through an agency. In-home care agencies usually offer licensed and bonded staff that perform a variety of tasks. While it may be more expensive to hire a caregiver through an agency, you will not be responsible for costs such as accounting, insurance and taxes. When choosing an agency, be sure to ask about what services are provided. Find out about the company. How long have they been in business? Are they with the Better Business Bureau? Check their references. Compare costs, services and features that they offer. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Remember, you are the client, and ultimately you must feel comfortable and confident with the caregiverís services.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Caregiver

When interviewing potential agencies and caregivers, there are many important things to consider:

What services are provided?

Caregivers may provide light housekeeping, transportation, meal preparation, medication monitoring, personal care, and assistance with ambulation. Some agencies provide higher levels of care such as incontinence care, heavy transfers and Alzheimerís care. Have the agency clearly state in writing what services are provided.

Can they work a schedule according to your needs?

Some agencies have minimum numbers of hours per shift. Some offer shift rates. Some charge more for holidays, nights and weekends. Ask which holidays are observed by the agency.

What are the costs? How are payments handled? What is the cancellation policy?

Some agencies/caregivers charge by the hour, while others may charge by the job or shift. You should outline in writing what you are getting for your money. Some agencies require a deposit before services begin. Find out what the deposit covers and their refund policy. Additionally, ask about their cancellation policy. Some agencies require advanced written notice of cancellation. Prices can vary widely. The cheapest is not always the best option. It pays to shop and compare.

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