6 Steps to Hire an In-Home Caregiver Fast


If you need help at home right now, the ideal solution may be to hire an in-home caregiver. These steps can help with this sometimes-daunting task.

1. Begin with a doctor's assessment for in-home care.

To help you understand what kind of caregiver to hire (such as someone with a nursing background versus more of a personal assistant), have the person in your care checked by his doctor. A doctor can also help determine whether in-home care is the best route or whether he really needs to move temporarily to a skilled nursing facility.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

Helpful hint: If the person is acutely ill or recovering from surgery or another medical procedure, be sure to ask his doctor whether he's eligible for in-home care as part of his treatment, which may be covered by his insurance plan.

2. Determine your in-home care budget.

Before you can hire someone, you'll need to know how much money is available to spend for a caregiver. This will help you make important decisions about the salary and number of hours you can afford. Talk with the individuals and other family members to nail down roughly how much money you can pool to pay for in-home care to get started. Then you can start looking at other options for ongoing care.

If ongoing care is necessary, you can consider cashing in a life insurance policy or annuity, selling a home, or getting a reverse mortgage -- but none of these moves will get you cash in a hurry.

Helpful hint: The person may be eligible for some degree of in-home care coverage through health insurance, long-term disability insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

3. Plan an in-home care schedule.

Once you know how much money is available for in-home care, and you have a sense of their needs, you can draft a caregiver's schedule. This is basically an outline of how many hours per day you want (or can afford) to hire someone to work, and what times and days work best for everyone involved. Then it's a matter of finding a caregiver to fit this schedule.

Helpful hints: When planning a caregiver's schedule, consider which needs can be reliably covered by you, family, or friends. This is an especially useful consideration if you're on a tight budget.

Then cluster caregiver tasks within a limited time slot, such as a morning shift for personal care -- bathing, dressing, grooming, and helping with breakfast or lunch.

4. Start your in-home care search.

Once you know how much money you have and the hours you hope to fill, you can start looking for a caregiver. The main ways to find in-home caregivers include word of mouth (asking for referrals from everyone you know, including medical staff, senior organizations, and religious communities), checking with online or newspaper classified ads, and using an employment agency that specializes in in-home caregivers.

The main difference between hiring independently and going through an agency is that agencies are usually more expensive but handle most of the paperwork, such as tax and social security forms. Agencies also screen employees. You can find agencies through the Internet (use search terms home health care or in-home senior care) or the telephone book.

Helpful hint: A great way to find in-home care and learn how much caregivers in your community are paid per hour is to search the In-Home Care Directory. You can also go to your local Area Agency on Aging, which can link you to local senior agencies that provide a range of assistance, including finding in-home care.

5. Identify the right in-home caregiver.

When you're working fast, a few things can help you make a good caregiver match. First, weed out agencies or private caregivers over the phone if they don't meet your scheduling or financial needs.

Keep in mind that while hiring a private caregiver is usually the most inexpensive option, it also means you'll need to do the work that an agency or referral service would normally do for you: as an employer, you'll need to cover payroll taxes unless that person works as a contractor, and, to be on the safe side, you should also perform a background check. For many families or for those who do not have a background in hiring employees, it’s much easier to find a caregiver through an agency.

Trust your instincts, ruling out anyone or any place you don't feel good about. Narrow down an "interview" list and meet these people in person, with the person in your care if this is appropriate.

Helpful hint: Brief yourself during the interview process, whether you're hiring an independent care provider or working through an agency.

6. Use an agency, or hire a geriatric care manager.

If you can't find the right person and time is running out, consider using an in-home care agency that comes well recommended. Most agencies can accommodate urgent or short-term needs. This solution may be more expensive, but it's an efficient way to get someone in to help immediately, buying you time to explore other options.

Another option, if you can afford it: Consider hiring a geriatric care manager to take over the in-home care reins -- it's often one of their specialties. While this can be expensive, it's an efficient way to get care right away and relieves you of much of the hiring hassle.

Helpful hints: Discuss the choices you're facing with friends and family. Get input from others. If the person in your care is up to it, include him as much as you can. After all, he's the one who really needs to be comfortable with the caregiver. You can find geriatric care managers through word-of-mouth referrals or by going online, to the yellow pages, or to your local Area Agency on Aging.

And remember, your decision isn't irreversible. If the caregiver doesn't work out, you can find another one. It's a disappointment and a hassle, but if you're persistent, you'll find the right person.

Kate Rauch

Kate Rauch has spent more than two decades writing about health for websites and print media, including WebMD, Drugstore, the Washington Post health section, and Newsday, as well as HMOs such as Kaiser Permanente (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Group Health (in Seattle). See full bio

over 1 year, said...

I am a private home care nurse I don't have my medical license but I have work for an elderly patient for 5 years at her home I cook for her daily household chores. I also set with stool elderly couple before they passed away you can reach me at 601-831-3098 my name is Erica Carter and I'm located in the Houston Texas area

over 1 year, said...

Hello...I enjoyed reading about the 6 steps to hiring a caregiver. I plan on at least trying to work them to the best of my ability. I know that my situation is not unique, but here are some of the details. My wife (Tammy) had a quadruple bypass just over a year ago. She had some complications during surgery and developed an infection in the brain. She was in the hospital after surgery for 2 months. She also has CHF, diabetes, asthma...well let's just say she is not well. Within the past month she has been in the hospital two times because of fluid retention. Both times they had her on heavy doses of lasik to get rid of the fluid. That was all good except when she was release she got home and started to retain fluid again. According to the doctor they have done what they could. They have reduced her fluid intake to 1600 cc/ day. They want her to get up and walk, but the problem is that she is physically unable to take more than two or three steps. I have taken on the roll of "Mr. Mom" in taking care of her, the house, and our granddaughter who is living with us. She is on Medicare and I understand that they will not pay for anything (I'm still checking into this.) What I need is to find someone who can come in and help her with rehab exercises in some form. I am taking care of meals, cleaning, and all the rest of the homemaker duties while working 60 hours per week. (hmmm .... wasn't there a song about this?) Anyway, that is my goal as I believe having someone to help out with rehab exercises. I think this will help her self-worth among other things. Anyway, enough of my rambling, thank you for listening and I look forward to any comments or suggestions that may be presented.

over 1 year, said...

I'm so frustrated. I've been trying to get an in home caregiver for 3 months. I can't cook any meals so I have been eating microwave things that take maybe a minute to heat so mostly chicken nuggets. I haven't had a home cooked meal in months. Also I can't clean or bath or do almost everything by myself. I have episodes in which I can have between 1 and 3 seizures per episode and I have can up to 6 episodes a day. I live alone and have done many face plants and have gone to to hospital several times. I've been fighting with Medicare for 3 months. All I need is someone to come in and help me clean, bath, cook, take me to doctor's appointments, etc.. I already have someone picked out because I don't trust people because of things I have been through in my life. How is someone like me that doesn't have any money left after bills are paid get a caregiver if Medicare doesn't help? I'm so tired of the runaround. Does someone have an answer for me?

about 2 years, said...

Thanks for organizing this Kate. Another idea is to get an idea of home care options before you are in an emergency situation. Agencies are great to step in and help expedite the process but the more research you do with more lead time is really beneficial for everyone involved.

over 3 years, said...

Thanks for the article Kate. I like the step by step approach and focus on execution. Families often need that in emergency situations. Family members also should speak to their loved one and ask them what they want. Would they like to stay home? Would they prefer a family member assist? What are their goals? What trade offs are they willing to make? Fit is an incredibly important part of any at-home care relationship. It may take longer. The extra time and conversation will pay large dividends.

about 4 years, said...

It wasn't specific enough.

over 4 years, said...

I need care giving for a 35 year old male, He cannot walk. he can talk he has brain damage.

about 6 years, said...

Hiring others either directly or through an agency can be worrisome, given that we may be at our job or at another location when the work is performed. Questions arise. Does the person that we selected actually perform the task, or do they switch with someone else? Do they work within the agreed time window? Do they provide the actual number of minutes or hours contracted? And even, what does the work look like? There's a new service now that tracks people while they perform tasks, and provides real-time notices through email, text messages, or the Internet. Its called TaskAssure. You may want to consider it.

about 6 years, said...

hello!!!im syra....i want to work in home care but i dont have any idea or experience working on that matter.i have 4 kids.can i apply on that work even if i dont have knowledge on that???thank u....

about 7 years, said...

Hi tmoncier, thanks for your comment. One place you can start your search is in our directory: http://www.caring.com/local. Just select the type of care your want (in-home care sounds like what you need) and then enter in your city information. From there you'll see a list of facilities and you can see which one works best for you and your loved one. Hope that helps! Thanks again for your comment. -- Emily | Community Manager

about 7 years, said...

Looking for help finding help for everyday fundamental daily living a few hours a day. Money is a issue tho they do have Medicare. Any ideas would be greatly appreciateD . THANK YOU SO MUCH.

over 7 years, said...

Mom and Dad are in another state. Mom is 88 years old and Dad is 89 years old. They can no longer cook for themselves or clean. They are still able to dress and take care of personal things. Is there home care or a service available for the elderly that provides cooking and cleaning for them? They live in Oceanport, NJ

over 7 years, said...

I' m Angie Delgado, Me and my family are looking for a person to at least bath and cook for my mom she's 95yrs staying home .There's nothing wrong with her only thyroid and arthritis because of her age.She is a very picky person and with an attitude ,well I think it's because of age.On her next Dr's appointment I'm planning to ask him if he could help me on that.

almost 10 years, said...

there are lots of great caregivers on ENURGI.COM