Hiring a Private Caregiver? What You Need To Know

hire in home caregiver

Hiring a personal caregiver to come into your home or to provide additional care in a facility can be nerve-wracking. How do you know who to trust? How do you know who will be a good fit? This article addresses those concerns and will help guide you through the process of hiring a private caregiver, or sitter, for your elderly loved one.

Some people find personal caregivers through a homecare agency or referral service in order to keep things simple. Hiring a private caregiver is usually the most inexpensive option, but it 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.

Where to Find Private-hire Caregivers

  • Ask for referrals from people you know and trust in the medical community, including discharge planners, physicians and social workers.
  • Let people around you know that you're looking to hire a personal caregiver. You may be surprised at how many leads you find, and word-of-mouth recommendations are sometimes the best ones.
  • Search online job boards such as Craigslist.
  • Place an advertisement in the newspaper or via online forums.

Assess Your Situation

Before calling any private-hire caregivers, make a list of what the job will entail and what your expectations are for hiring a professional caregiver. Be as detailed as possible. For example, telling a job candidate that you need someone to take care of your mom for three days a week only informs them that it is part-time work. Make notes on what is most important:

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

  • When and how often do you need a caregiver? Is it likely to change soon? If so, will it be a problem?
  • What duties would you like the caregiver to perform and how often? List out the duties and frequency (e.g, light housekeeping weekly, driving to doctor's appointment as needed, and aiding with bathing every morning).
  • Do you need any specialized care, such as for dementia or incontinence?
  • What are the qualities a caregiver would need to make the environment safe and happy-patience, a sense of humor, or the ability to stand his or her ground? The caregiver you hire will be spending a lot of time with your loved one, so this is a significant issue. What are your loved one's pet peeves? Disorder or messiness? Smoking in the home? Bring these up when you speak with the caregiver.

Research Your Candidates for Private Caregivers

Once you've identified the caregiving duties, then you're ready to screen candidates by phone and begin scheduling interviews. On the phone, explain what your needs are and make sure the candidate has experience, training and the physical capability to do tasks such as transferring or bathing (if applicable). Let them know you will be checking their references and performing a background check. Ask interviewees to come to the interview with a Social Security card, driver's license, listings of prior home addresses and references, and a resumé. Type up a list or create a spreadsheet to keep track of your top candidates.

Background Checks for Personal Caregivers

Performing a background check on potential caregivers is imperative. Background checks can include credit reports, DMV records and searching county, state and/or federal criminal records. You must have written consent from the potential caregiver in order to perform a background check. Many law offices and private investigators can perform background checks using specialized databases; fees range from about $70-300 per hour. Online background check companies usually cost less, and most charge based on the scope of the search-for example, how many counties or states must be searched and what type of records you require. If you go this route, it's helpful to have a list of the candidate's previous addresses. Oftentimes search criteria can be even more specialized if you call the agency directly, rather than utilizing online forms, which are generalized.

Interviewing Private Caregivers

Interviews are always tricky because they require you to assess a person in a short amount of time. The following are a few questions and talking points for interviewing a candidate.

  • How long have you worked as a caregiver?
  • Tell me about your past work experience.
  • What did you like or not like about your previous jobs-and why?
  • Do you have any specialized training or experience?
  • Are you willing to perform the following duties? (List the duties you require, including any future needs that you anticipate. If your loved one enjoys cooking but her arthritis may require need aid with cooking later see if the caregiver is willing to do so.)
  • What activities do you think would be appropriate for my loved one?
  • How would you deal with my loved one being combative?
  • When are you happiest at work? (What makes work a good experience for you?)

Screening tips: Make sure you don't have any discriminatory policies in your screening process. The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that you ask for permission, in writing, before pulling a job candidate's credit report. Also, if you do not hire that person based on his or her credit report, you must send the applicant a copy of the report, the contact information of the Consumer Reporting Agency and information on their rights to dispute the report.

SEE ALSO: Find In-Home Care Help Near You

During the interview, let applicants know everything you can about the job-think of details that would be important to you, if you were the employee. Some questions and concerns may include:

  • People with whom the caregiver will need to interact (Do you have a policy about visitors? Will anyone be stopping by the home?)
  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Benefits and wages (When and how will the caregiver be paid?)
  • Vacations and holiday pay
  • Petty cash (Will you leave small amounts of money for expenses or will you reimburse the caregiver later? Be sure to require receipts if it's the latter!)

I Don't Have Time!

If time is an issue, hire a caregiver through an in-home care agency; the agency will perform all the background checks and match you with a caregiver who suits your needs.

Cheat Sheets are a Good Thing

Verbal instructions can be helpful, but don't anticipate that a caregiver will remember everything you said on the first day. Write down important information so he or she will have a reference. Include details on the care recipient, the home and emergency protocols. Keep a copy in a central place in the home.

About the Care Recipient

  • Likes and dislikes
  • Normal diet and any restrictions to it
  • Any mobility issues
  • Current medical status and/or illnesses (include any signs of an emergency)
  • Possible behavior problems and how to best deal with them
  • Any exercises or therapies (include schedule, if applicable)
  • Medication list

About the Home or Apartment:

  • Security precautions and keys
  • Location of medical supplies
  • Location of food and cooking items (include explanation of any related appliances)
  • Location of cleaning and washing supplies (include instructions for appliances)
  • Location of fuse box, flash lights, light bulbs and candles
  • Location of clothing or extra linens

About Emergencies:

  • Name and phone number of first person who should be contacted after 9-1-1
  • Doctors' names and phone numbers
  • Other important contacts

A Well-run Home is a Happy Home

One of the most important things you can do with any employee is to keep the lines of communication open. It involves more than simply making your expectations clear (although that's very important!). The following are a few hints on how to create a smooth-running and happy home.

  • Schedule informal meetings. Ask the caregiver how things are going. Has he or she noticed any recent changes in your loved one's health? Is there anything you can do to provide better support?
  • Speak up. If you feel your expectations are not being met, let the caregiver know in a gentle but firm manner.
  • Create a comfortable environment. The caregiver should have pleasant working conditions, with a comfortable place to take a break (or a comfortable room and bed for live-in help).
  • Equip the caregiver with the tools for success. Provide the caregiver with the supplies necessary to do his or her job.
  • Show your appreciation. Complimenting the caregiver's work and skills, giving small gifts or bonuses, or providing perks such as partial or full travel reimbursement are all wonderful ways of expressing gratitude.

Remember, caregivers are people too! Live-in caregivers should have a comfortable, private area set aside for them. Live-in caregivers cannot be on call all the time; everyone needs personal time. Make sure that shift lengths are reasonable.

Laura Dixon

As Caring's Editorial Manager, Laura writes and edits articles about important issues for family caregivers and seniors. See full bio

about 1 month, said...

Hello, New Hampshire Private Home care duty Elder Care. Licensed in NH, looking to be licensed in North Carolina. Plans to move in approximately 6 months. Winston/ Raleigh area. lNA, Med Tech, Private duty licensed. Where do I apply for a license to work in North Carolina?? Excellent References, Thank you.

about 1 month, said...

I'm a caregaver now .Been with this lady about 3 years I work as a caregaver all of my life I'm. 65

6 months, said...

I was in a loving relationship with my husband for 13 years and we have three beautiful kids together. Things started changing when he got this new job that paid more, i started getting suspicious but i could never confirm anything until a colleague of mine introduced me to this computer surgeon hacker. He helped me spy on my husband without any physical access to her phone, i was able to receive his phone text messages and also messages from all his social media accounts in real time. Contact him today and thank me later Tell him i referred you

11 months, said...

A group of caregivers (a family-type, mother/daughter/daughters husband/and cousin/ robbed our father of $350,000.00 within 3 week period when he had a stroke, and put a new will in front of him that he signed, 2 days before his final stroke/terminal illness.AS part of the aftermath, we did a State court case search on their name, address, and maiden names and other married names they had. They had 2 bankruptcies, plus a civil suit with a financial institution. HAD this court case search been done ahead of time, this might have diverted my father to use a different persons altogether, or institution that is BONDED. They were paid well by my father, but that was not enough.

12 months, said...

Looking for an occasional caregiver for a comatose pt Friday night & Sat night 1op - 6a

over 1 year, said...

We are looking for someone 4 nights a week, tue, thur, sat an sun. Only for 1 hr. All u do is feed her dinner an change her depends for the night. Shes 96 yrs old, she is paralyzed on the left side so she needs help getting up to use the toilet. The only catch is, u cant call in sick cuz there is nobody to call! 4 nights, 1hr 5-6pm an 20$ for that hr. No taces are done cuz its cash. If interested gmail me at candyortega480@gmail.com

over 1 year, said...

To fellow commenter, still in search To attend to your son?

over 1 year, said...

Am looking for someone honest and clean who can take good care if my son for me

almost 2 years, said...

The California. Health care passed a requirement for all care provider to be register with the state a ID number is given and is public also a back ground is done and finger print is also done. So love one's know what kind of people they are hiring.as a care giver i think the was one of the greatest think the state did now seniors that want to hire private caregiver can just call the home care bureau and ask about there back ground. Just with the register caregiver ID number. And said good bye to expensive home care agencies. Why pay the middle man when you can pay the person that cares for you

about 2 years, said...

Looking for live in care giver for elderly woman with dementia must have references and experience with elderly care job includes assistance in mobility to and from the bathroom and preparing meals this is a clean environment must be non smoker and drug free pay is negotiable part time is a possibility please call Eddie Collins at678-870-0224for more details this job is in newnan ga

about 2 years, said...

I been a cargiver on and off sence I was 17 years old and I love the job

about 2 years, said...

I love takeing care of people and I been looking for a care g iveing job that don't fill taxes on the cargivers and I am varey interested in a job so plese email me as soon as u can my name is Melissa Edwards

about 2 years, said...

Hi iam a certified nurse and has been for 18 years.its nothing i cant do and i love my job &title...

over 2 years, said...

Im a private caregiver work 15 yr for business man ower of weir furniture

over 2 years, said...

I have been a caregiver for 2yrs and a nursing assistant for 4yrs

over 2 years, said...

I HAVE BEEN A NURSE OVER 30+ yrs. I worked in hospitals, nursing homes, home health nurse, marketing for home heath companies and now I would like to find a live in. My mom was very sick and I tool care of her to the end. I have a good background, good credit, well liked int the community and treat people like I would be treated. Im a honest person who truely cares and communicates well with families and follow up.

over 2 years, said...

I have been a caregiver for special needs and the elderly. I have now finally started my own company based in Indianapolis. I love taking care of people in need it is the reason i believe i am here on earth! This article was very helpful thank you! www.visitingcarefinders.com

over 2 years, said...

I'm looking for a caregiver to live in and travel back-and-forth with me California and scottsdale l Arizona would like someone without commitments marriage children etc. how do I find someone like that

over 2 years, said...

Where can I find these "Gilbert Guide" forms that the article refers to and says to download? Thank you!

over 2 years, said...

My name is Jeannie Smith I am 35 years old. I have worked in the medical field for 11 years. In those 11 years I have obtained a CNA, CMA, a current CPR and first aid. I have completed all except for 12 weeks of my practical nursing I attended college at Kaplan University in Omaha,NE. I have worked in places such as: nursing homes, assisted living, specialty units (dementia, brain damage), nursing agencies, in home care (private pay), multiple hospitals. I have worked with patients/residents with a variety of aliments such as: dementia, Alzheimer's, cerebral palsy, brain injuries, cancer, paralysis/prosthesis. I feel God places you in different situations and that he's put me in specific situations to make me a better person. I feel that these situations have made me a better CNA such as my brother suffering a coma due to being hit by a drunk driver and my other brother suffering major brain damage and bed ridden due to a massive heart attack/stroke. I know God has placed me here to care for others. And I do that through being a CNA. I love what I do with a passion.

over 2 years, said...

I have been a carrgiver tor five years there is a special part of my heart for earley people...love my calling for the elderly people

over 2 years, said...

I'm caring loving person, I'm enjoy an do the best helping elderly People need help..I have a great sense Humor,my Experience almost 10 year For this comment: Pray,love an hug

over 2 years, said...

I am looking for a caregiver for my mother who has Alzheimer. I live in Portland Oregon and am trying to learn how to find someone who will be a good fit for her and someone I can trust when I am at work. Does anyone know someone in my area who would be a good fit?