By Jennifer Luna Friedrich
What is the caregiver’s employment status?
If the caregiver is the employee of the
agency, then the agency is responsible for bonds,
taxes and insurance. Be wary of agencies that claim
the caregivers are “independent contractors.” In
most cases, caregivers do not qualify as
“independent contractors” according to tax and labor
laws. Their fees may seem low, but you could be
deemed the employer and assume the employer’s
responsibilities for taxes and insurance. 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 may not be covered by
your home owner’s insurance. There are no surety
bonds that would cover “independent” caregivers for
theft, dishonesty or negligence. The same
considerations hold true if you hire an individual
“freelance caregiver.” Check with your legal
and tax advisor if you choose to go this route.
What is the agency’s / caregiver’s track
record? How long has the agency been in
Call the Better Business Bureau to see if the
agency has any complaints on file. Obtain and verify
references (especially for freelance caregivers).
How much skill and experience do the caregivers
have? Does the agency have skills and experience
requirements for their caregivers? What kind
of training do they give to their caregivers?
Experience usually relates directly to skill. If
your loved one has a special need, such as
Alzheimer’s care, be sure the caregiver has
experience and knowledge in this area.
What is the caregiver’s background? Does the agency
perform a criminal background check on their
caregivers? Are fingerprints taken? Can they legally
work in this country? What is their driving history?
For freelance caregivers, you can do a background
check yourself. The Department of Motor Vehicles can
provide driving records and the County Courthouse
can do criminal records checks. Resources can also
be found in the phone book or on the Internet. Be
wary of caregivers reluctant to provide background